Shift Swaps, now live!

Carl Holloway

Carl Holloway


I’m proud to announce the release of the most demanded feature we’ve ever had on the Rotaready development list: shift swaps! Now available to everyone.

We spent time with some of our customers to understand how shift swaps work in practice before diving head-first into mock-ups, sketches, doodles and code. This article takes a look at the things we learned and how we went about integrating swaps with Rotaready.

Shift swaps under the microscope

We wanted to discover why people offer up their shifts (and to whom), how often a swap happens, the thought processes that occur in the minds of shift swappers, and so on. We thought we might learn something from this.

And as it transpires, we did! We quickly found out that the most common type of shift swap is actually a ‘cover request’. This is where someone simply agrees to work someone else’s shift. A one-way trade, if you were.

In the businesses we observed, cover requests accounted for the majority of all shift swaps. The ‘two-way’ trade, where two people working separate shifts agree to take each other’s places, happened far less often. Logistically it’s a much harder deal to strike as there’s more moving parts. And not only did people rarely request such a thing, but when they did, it was even more rare that they’d reach agreement with someone.

So we threw together some mock-ups but it quickly became apparent that by catering for this niche use case we’d be sacrificing a straightforward, coherent user experience for a much more complex one. So we came to the decision not to build two-way swapping into Rotaready.

We carried on poring over swap requests and soon noticed a trend. Some individuals preferred to request cover from their friends only, while others didn’t mind who they swapped with. At such an early design stage, it was super handy knowing this was something we needed to accommodate.

So armed with this knowledge, we set out on a mission to find the most harmonious way of designing cover requests into Rotaready. We always try to find a way to naturally integrate new features with our existing interface. Our customers regularly tell us how much they love our UI, so the challenge is always making sure we don’t tarnish that.

Building in cover requests

shiftModalSwapTabFirst off, how might you offer a shift to others? We made this as accessible as possible by adding a new tab to the “view shift” dialog, right where you’d expect it. Our research showed people like to choose who sees their offer, so we made it possible for you to pick everyone, or restrict the audience by typing the names of your friends and colleagues. You can even add a friendly message too.

SecondrosterCalendar, how might you see shifts offered to you? Our research indicated that people look at their calendar before deciding to accept a swap; so that’s exactly where we put them. They’re in your calendar already. With clever use of colours and diagonal shading, it’s clear which shifts are yours and which aren’t. To take one, click on it and accept the request. It’s as simple as that.

managerCoverRequestApprovalFinally, managers. If your organisation hasn’t told Rotaready to automatically accept shift swaps, they’ll need to go to a manager for approval before the final transfer takes place. We’ve made it easy for managers to make an informed decision by bringing the request and shift information together in one place. They can see who’s swapping, interrogate the original shift and accept or reject in a couple of clicks.

And as always with Rotaready, everyone involved will receive text messages every step of the way. For the person making the offer, you’ll be told both when someone accepts and when management approves. For the person agreeing to the offer, you’ll also be told when management makes a decision. So there’s no need to keep an eye on Rotaready in-between times.

We hope you enjoy using shift swaps, and as always if you have any feedback please do drop the team a message; we love hearing from you!

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