October 29, 2020

Inside the Social World of Shift-Scheduling Apps

Amber Hitchcock, 27, who works at a steakhouse in Florida, said that most employees use the app for its intended purpose. “But then people are like, ‘Hey, I have a pressure-washing business,’ or, like, ‘Here’s a cat I found.’”

How people use the service is largely a reflection of workplace culture. A restaurant worker in South Carolina, who was granted anonymity by The New York Times to protect his job, described how a male co-worker once used the app to send inappropriate messages to a woman he worked with; when the co-worker was let go, he sent a message to the entire staff lashing out at his managers.

HotSchedules is, at its core, a tool for managers, and so managers dictate how, and how well, it’s used. “I’ve used HotSchedules at four to five different restaurants now,” said Sierra Cordell, a supervisor at a restaurant in Denver. “I’ve worked places where it was discouraged to use it for anything other than strictly scheduling,” Mx. Cordell said, “but at other places, we’ve set up our fantasy football league through HotSchedules messaging.”

In March, when local restaurants were ordered to close for in-house service, Mx. Cordell’s employer told the staff they wouldn’t be working for a while. “One server sent out a lot of very detailed information about unemployment in Colorado and sent over some helpful tips regarding getting contact with the unemployment office,” Mx. Cordell said.

Chatter shifted to Facebook and group texts until June, when workers started getting their first notifications from HotSchedules: Shifts were once again available. Since then the app has been key as a hub for weekly updates about changes to service, coronavirus precautions and staffing issues.

In the early days of the pandemic, Sara Porcheddu, a bartender and server in Cambridge, Mass., was similarly encouraged by how communicative her employer was on HotSchedules. When she and her colleagues were furloughed in March, the communication continued: messages about “local emergency funds we could apply for, unemployment insurance tips, when and how we could pick up our final tip and wage checks, as well as being generally warm and supportive,” she said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/style/shift-scheduling-apps-hotschedules.html

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