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The Coronavirus Covid-19 has created a difficult and unprecedented environment for us all. Many organizations are facing the dual challenge of trying to keep employees safe and well during the outbreak while also trying to satisfy customer demand.

It’s easy to see how this is important for healthcare organizations at the forefront of caring for the most at risk, but we’re now also seeing increased pressure coming to bear on industries such as; food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, retail and logistics as they make heroic attempts to keep producing and distributing their much-needed products in very changed circumstances.

Our customers are dealing with challenges such as; managing a completely changed demand profile, managing ever-changing employee schedules and trying if at all possible to make contingency scheduling plans due to the volatile nature of staff availability.

Let’s take a look at how we might approach some of these challenges.

Scheduling/ Rostering for increased or decreased demand

Some organizations are taking the tough decision to close their doors in a bid to protect employees and customers and perhaps where possible transfer their business online; but they’re experiencing a decline in demand from customers due to the unpredictability of Covid-19. Other organizations may be experiencing an increase in or a very unpredictable type of demand. Creating schedules/rosters for this while managing your duty to your employees is challenging.

Our scheduling/rostering solution enables managers to accurately and automatically create schedules that align labour with the required skill mix and demand to create the optimum schedule. The software allows you to work out how many employees you will need with different training and skills in different scenarios – allowing you to map out the required staffing levels with a predefined list of fairness, equity and shift distribution rules to ensure a fair and efficient roster. Where demand is increasing you can temporarily add in additional requirements for staff to the schedule which then reverts to the standard schedules once demand returns to usual levels.

Managing last-minute changes or gaps in the schedule

The situation is changing every day and it’s challenging to keep up to date on who has or hasn’t been able to turn up to work. “Softworks Real-Time Gaps Screen” provides a rolled-up view of any gaps you may have in your schedule/roster across the organisation, grouping them by department, area, date and most importantly the severity of the gap so that you can prioritize which gap needs to be filled first.

Staffing gaps can be filled using Softworks Vacancy Alerter which allows you to send triggers via email or the employee self-service module, to any available and suitably qualified staff, to request them to fill the shift. This can be restricted to staff who comply with your organisational rules and current legislation. Once the employee accepts the shift and you approve, the shift is officially scheduled and your employee’s work schedule is updated.

In situations where employees know in advance that they can’t cover their shift, it can be useful to allow employees to swap their shift and find a replacement. Where shift swapping is enabled, employees use the Employee Self-Service feature to find a replacement and organise the shift swap electronically. All Shift swap requests can be sent to the Manager for review and approval before they go live. An email is sent from the system to the Manager that they can then approve directly from their email.

Contingency planning

Emergency or backup lists of employees can be incorporated into your regular schedule so that finding a replacement to fill a shift doesn’t mean starting an entirely new schedule/roster from scratch. Employees can be rostered to be “on call” and multiple “on calls” can be included in your schedule for contingency planning.

Scheduling/rostering for tasks requiring specific skills

The availability of the right employees with the right skills is becoming an issue for many of our customers. Employees may be unable to work due to needing to self-isolate or may need to stay home to provide childcare due to school and childcare services closing. It’s not always as simple as swapping in another employee as quite often the job requires a specific skill set. With our skills and tracking module, a report can be quickly pulled from our system giving immediate visibility of which employees have a specific skill so that they can be deployed to fill gaps. Being able to provide this insight in a short period of time helps keep the organization agile and respond to ever-changing situations.

We are thinking of all our clients at this time. The majority of our team is working remotely and can be contacted as usual by email or phone. Our support team can be reached through the usual channels and we are happy to help with any questions or concerns.


We wish you all the best, stay safe.

The Softworks Team

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