The best free self-scheduling apps for shift work

Employee self-scheduling can be a blessing for teams who need to service a hectic calendar, or be flexible with lots of last minute changes. Shift sign-up software lets managers simply let the employees figure out who works when – without the daily effort of creating and editing the calendar for the whole team.

What is the best app for picking up shifts?

Here are four free self-signup apps that let you easily present open shifts to your workforce. And then track the shifts they’d like to work!

Woman scheduling in a calendar

The best free self-scheduling apps


Zelos is a very simple management app that lets you create open shifts for your team members. You can define specific requirements about which employees can see the shifts, and choose whether they should be self-scheduling or shift-bidding. You can also assign team members to shifts by yourself.

Screenshot of a self-scehduling app
Zelos lets employees easily apply or sign up for the available shifts.

Once the schedule is distributed, Zelos also lets the employees check in, mark the shifts complete, and report the actual time spent on the job. Employees can download an app, or access their calendar through a web browser.

In addition to shift sign-up, Zelos also provides live chats and an internal wiki for operative communication with the team.

Zelos is free for teams of all sizes with low shift volume, but can easily be upgraded to a fixed price monthly subscription.

  • Perfect for: when you want to self-schedule most of the shifts
  • Weaknesses: no auto-scheduling
  • Special powers: gamification


Sling is an easy to use scheduling app that lets you publish a schedule for your employees, but you also mark shifts as open. When you tag employees with specific roles and locations, they will be able to pick up open shifts with the same tags.

Screenshot of a scheduling app
Sling has a section of “available shifts” at the top of the regular schedule for employees to pick.

You can easily have employees log their time off requests and have an AI distribute the first schedule. 

Employees can offer their assigned shifts for exchange, chat with each other, and interact with news feeds. There are convenient apps to download to your smartphone for easy clock in, clock out and breaks – but you can also view the shift calendar on a desktop computer.

The basic scheduling is free to use with unlimited employees, but for advanced functionality you should upgrade to premium tiers that are priced per employee.

  • Perfect for: when you want to self-schedule just some of the shifts
  • Weaknesses: reports and task management only in premium product
  • Special power: built-in HR features like payroll and time off requests


Shiftbase is a scheduling app that lets you assign employees to shifts and events. They can then use the mobile apps to clock in and out.

Screenshot of a shift planning app
Shiftbase has open shifts available for employees displayed on the very top of the regular rota

You can mark some shifts as open, and decide whether you want to manually approve the employees to the shift, or can they self-schedule freely.

For communication, there is a forum-like newsfeed section where administrators can start posts with comment threads.

Shiftbase is free to use with a small team. Once you reach the maximum employee count or want to use the more advanced features, you can upgrade your project and pay per employee.

  • Perfect for: when you want to self-schedule just some of the shifts
  • Weaknesses: no chats or messaging
  • Special power: customisable report dashboards


Connecteam is a scheduling app with very many features. Besides basic scheduling and task management, it can also function as a learning platform, feedback forum, or a social network for your employees.

Screenshot of a team task management app
Connecteam highlights shifts without users for employees to pick up.

The scheduling section lets you assign shifts to each employee, or let them pick up unassigned shifts with or without admin approval phase. Each shift can also have a task list attached to it.

The Connecteam pricing is quite complex, as they deliver so many features for different audiences. The free app comes with the most popular features, and is limited to a small number of employees.

  • Perfect for: when you want an employee app that does absolutely everything
  • Weaknesses: with the overwhelming amount of features it takes a while to get started
  • Special powers: additional features like courses, surveys, quizzes, events and suggestions

Common problems with self-scheduling

While self-scheduling can offer many benefits, one should keep an eye out for the most common problems that can arise with this approach.

Effective communication is key to preventing problems with self-scheduling. Employees need to work together and communicate effectively to ensure that all necessary shifts are covered. However, if employees do not communicate effectively, there may be scheduling conflicts or gaps in coverage.

Shift sign-up can make it challenging to balance workload across the team, particularly if some employees consistently choose more desirable shifts or if some employees have a greater workload than others.

Self-scheduling can result in inconsistencies or inaccuracies in scheduling if employees do not update their availability or if there are errors in the scheduling system.

Some employees may be resistant to the idea of shift sign-up, particularly if they are used to a more traditional scheduling approach. This can lead to a lack of buy-in and participation, which can undermine the success of the program.

Self-scheduling still requires some level of oversight or management to ensure that the program is running smoothly and that there are no scheduling conflicts or gaps in coverage.

Best practices for self-scheduling employees

Shift sign-up requires employees to take ownership of their schedules and be accountable for their availability and shift choices. Employees should be proactive in managing their schedules and making sure that they are fulfilling their shift requirements.

It is important that everyone is able to easily communicate with coworkers and ensure that there is coverage for all necessary shifts. If employees are unable to cover a shift, they should communicate this to their coworkers and try to find a replacement.

For self-scheduling to be successful, employees should be flexible and willing to adjust their schedules as needed. They should be open to taking on additional shifts when critically necessary, and should be willing to make changes to their schedules to accommodate team spirit.