Build better rotas with RotaCloud's Availability tool

Phil Kendall

Sep 2023 ⋅ 4 min read

Screenshot of the RotaCloud app showing an employee's working availability

Updating your team's rota after it’s been shared is far from unusual — people call in sick; a big booking comes in; you've over-scheduled and need to reduce your labour costs...

But if your staff are regularly coming to you asking to change their shifts, then it can spell big trouble for your business.

The good news is that there is a way to build rotas that work for your business and your team right off the bat: meet RotaCloud's Staff Availability tool.

What is the Availability tool?

Included in all subscription plans, RotaCloud's Availability tool makes it easy to see when your staff are — and aren’t — free to work, helping you plan shifts with confidence and reducing the need for shift changes after the schedule has been shared.

Using the tool, staff and managers can quickly mark their working availability for future periods, either as one-off availability or a repeating pattern (more on these below).

Availability doesn't just make rota planning easier — when your staff don't have to constantly change their plans to accommodate shifts, they're also less likely to run late or arrive at work stressed.

They get the shifts they need, you get to stay fully staffed.

Marking availability via the RotaCloud app

Accessing availability on the RotaCloud mobile app
The Availability tool is just a few taps away

From the mobile app menu, simply tap "My availability" to see a calendar view of the current month.

To add availability for a single day, tap that date on the calendar, followed by the blue plus icon beneath it, then tap ‘This day only".

From here, you can choose to mark availability for this date, either for an entire day or just for specific hours.

Animated gif of the RotaCloud mobile app with unavailability being set
Marking unavailability for specific hours via the RotaCloud mobile app

Alternatively, you and your employees can create a repeating availability pattern. This is useful for staff who have specific days or times of day when they're not free to work — for instance, if they have regular childcare commitments, or college/university classes that they have to attend on fixed days.

Screenshot of the Availability feature on the RotaCloud mobile app with 'New repeating pattern' option highlighted
Creating a repeating availability pattern takes just seconds

From here, select the date range you want the marked availability to run for — this can be for one, two, or four weeks.

Once these dates and times are set, they are then made available to you (and any other managers with the required permissions) to refer to when planning future rotas.

N.B. Staff can also communicate their working availability via the web version of RotaCloud if they don’t have the RotaCloud app installed on their mobile device.

Building rotas using availability data

After your staff have communicated their availability, you'll then have the option to hide or show this information on your rota as you create and edit shifts.

Animated gif showing a rota in RotaCloud with 'Show availability' being toggled on
Toggle availability on and off with a click

When the option is toggled on, recorded availability will be shown in green, while unavailability will appear in red.

It's worth noting that an employee marking themselves as unavailable on a specific date won't prevent you assigning them a shift at that time.

Although we recommend trying to schedule shifts around the dates and times your team are free to work, availability data is intended as a helpful guide for rota managers rather than a concrete set of rules. Similarly, staff should also be made aware that marking (un)availability doesn't automatically guarantee that they will or won't be working on those dates.

In the event that an employee is given a shift that they genuinely can't work, however, then they still have options available to them:

  • Cover request. This feature allows staff to ask eligible team mates to provide cover. If their coworker agrees, the proposal is sent to you for approval.
  • Shift swap request. Similar to a cover request, but employees agree to exchange shifts rather than one providing cover for the other.
  • Shift drop request. In the event that they simply cannot make it to work on a specific date, employees can ask to "drop" a shift, giving their manager additional time to find cover or make the necessary adjustments to their rota.

RotaCloud is packed full of self-service tools like these to encourage employees to take ownership of their shifts — as well as reduce the amount of scheduling-related admin that comes your way.

Try it for yourself

RotaCloud's Availability tool makes it easy to build rotas that work for everyone, reducing the need for shift changes and ensuring that your business is always fully staffed.

But that's not all RotaCloud can do! From our simple, drag-and-drop rota builder, to our intuitive holiday management and labour cost tools, RotaCloud makes managing your team simple.

Check out our full range of tools and features or start your 30-day free trial.