It’s Just Business: When I Work app makes employee scheduling easy

While on vacation a while back, my friend was trying to solve a problem, and she said “wouldn’t it be cool if there were an app that you could use to schedule your employees and all that it entails without having to call everyone and take hours away from managers’ time?” I did some research and found the When I Work app, and I’ve been using it ever since. I think that anyone who knows how time consuming it is to create employee schedules will appreciate how much time When I Work saves. I’ve said good-bye to pen and paper for scheduling and I don’t see myself ever going back to these old fashioned ways now that I have When I Work.

In a nutshell, When I Work helps businesses schedule, communicate and track time with their hourly employees. Rather than employees having to physically go to their workplace to check their work schedule, When I Work gets this information, and scheduling changes too, out to every employee remotely through their phone and/or computer so that everyone is on the same page and communicating with one another with ease.

Chad Halvorson is founder and CEO of When I Work at the company’s home base in Minneapolis. With a staff of 90 employees and offices in 12 states, including Washington and Oregon, Halvorson said his customers range from businesses with 10-20 employees to those with 300 or more, representing coffee shops, restaurants, retail, hospitality, health care, professional services and more that need to save time and get out of the quicksand of all of the daunting tasks that go with scheduling and communicating with their employees.

Halvorson and his team have really looked at every angle and created solutions. Anything that you would do on an Excel spreadsheet or on a piece of paper on the wall, like scratching things out and making changes, you can do on this app. One of the great things I love about this app is that in addition to saving me time, it has eliminated from my companies the ability for employees to say they didn’t know what their schedule was.

“Our target – our goal – is to get that schedule in front of everybody’s eyeballs through as many channels as we can. So we’ll send text messages, e-mails, mobile alerts, Twitter so that excuse can’t happen,” Halvorson said.

Among its many features, When I Work facilitates employees in trading shifts, requesting time off and includes a “timeclock” that can use any kind of Android or iPhone device as a timeclock, eliminating the need to buy timeclock equipment – you can use a computer at the business as the timeclock terminal instead. When I Work is also a godsend when it comes to employees calling in sick, as the app makes it a snap to send out one message to all employees who could come in and cover the shift.

More new features are on the way too. “We are working on a reporting feature to get better data output of what your scheduled hours are versus what your actual hours are – more labor distribution reports to get better analytics on what your labor costs look like,” Halvorson said. “We’re also working on a messaging component that will take what we have currently and step it up so that you can have more streamlined communication with your team and company.”

New users start with a 30-day free trial, with no commitments or obligations attached, which is great because I think anyone might be nervous if they were used to doing a schedule the same way for years. The free trial makes it easier and more natural for customers to stay with the app because by the end of the 30 days they’ve already used it and in my opinion they will want to keep going with it. It has made my life much easier because now I can do schedules for the whole company – no one is overlaying and no one is scheduled twice.

In addition, Halvorson’s company offers the best customer service. They are right on top of it and available to help with any questions or issues in using the app.

“There are two things that make or break a company’s success,” he said, “The experience customers have with the product and the experience customers have with the people. If you can deliver on an experience with both product and people, everything else takes care of itself. That’s something we put a lot of effort into.”

Halvorson said customer feedback is critical to keeping When I Work an app that anyone can use and to develop new features that customers will find useful. “We have over 14,000 customers now, and I like to hear right from them how they’re using it and that continuous learning of what their world is like with our product.”

Truth is that the app is so user-friendly that new clients should not be afraid of it. As Halvorson explained, “A lot of folks might look at technology and think it’s going to be complicated or take a lot of time to set up and we’ve really tried to overcome that. What we find is that when people really sink their teeth into it, they feel like a hero – that they’ve conquered this thing of scheduling and communicating that they didn’t think was possible. We help people through it and have made it as simple to set up and use as we can.”

There isn’t an overkill of things the app can do either, which is intentional according to Halvorson. “At the end of the day we’re not going to have 1,000 different features that do 1,000 different things. We’re just as proud of the features we don’t have as the ones we do have because that allows us to keep it very simple – keep the barrier of entry to use it as fluid as we can. We differentiate ourselves by simplicity and ease of use and we do this by making sure the features we do have are extremely effective.”

It was back in 1998 that Halvorson first started developing When I Work, an idea that was borne on his own weariness with having to go in to his workplace just to check the schedule. However, the time wasn’t right to move forward with it due largely to the fact that interconnectivity wasn’t what it is today. For the next 10 years or so he ran a web and software development consultancy. He resurrected the app six years ago and has been going strong ever since, with over half a million hourly employees on the app platform.

“The thing that made me decide to go back to it and jump in really hard was two things,” he explained. “One of the things that had been missing from 10 years earlier had been fixed: connectivity. Everybody was connected by 2008 when I started it back up. The second thing that kept me going was validation and feedback that businesses were giving me. That got me to go back into it and kept me in it.”

To learn about When I Work and to see an excellent short video explaining the app, visit

(Hear my one-on-one interview with Chad Halvorson and his journey to creating his When I Work app