Microsoft has added a great new shift scheduling, management and collaboration feature to Microsoft Teams called “Shifts” which is replacing the Microsoft StaffHub app. Shifts can be accessed via laptops as well as mobile phones via Microsoft Teams.

Why use Microsoft Teams Shifts

The key reasons why you should use MS Teams Shifts include:

  • Management of shifts schedules
  • Communication between mobile workers
  • Swapping shifts with a teammate
  • Employee requests for time off, swap or offer shifts

In addition to the above, Teams has introduced a new feature named “Schedule Owner”. This feature lets you elevate the permissions of a team member to a schedule owner without making an employee a team owner. This means that the employee is authorized to manage their team’s schedule without being able to modify any other team properties such as updating, editing or deleting team channels.

What can a user with schedule owner permissions do?

  • Create, edit, and publish schedules to manage their team’s shift assignments
  • View and approve shift requests including requests to swap shifts and take open shifts
  • Manage settings in Shifts to enable certain features for the team
  • View and modify their team’s/groups schedules which are indirectly used to manage employee payrolls

Why Schedule Owner?

Without the Schedule Owner feature, day-to-day business functions could be disrupted. While the team owner helps to run the team, they might not necessarily be the person in charge of day-to-day scheduling. In this case, transferring only the schedule management responsibility to another team member streamlines daily operations within the team and eliminates the confusion of two team members having the same access privileges.

How to use Shifts in Teams

In order to create shifts for front line workers, a manager or supervisor has to be an owner or to be granted “Schedule Owner” privileges for that Team (group/department). There could be more than one owner listed in the “Owner” group for one MS Team and more than one “Schedule Owner” as well.

It is possible to create only one Shifts schedule per one Microsoft Team.

NOTE: It is possible to create up to 20 individual groups schedules within that one Team Shifts Schedule.

1. Open the Shifts app and create a schedule

To get started click on the ellipsis “three dots (…)” in the Teams menu bar. You’ll see “Shifts” listed as one of the additional apps listed in the list. Just click on the Shifts app to create your schedule.


You can only create a schedule if you’re recognized as an owner of the Office 365 Team you wish to create the schedule for. If it’s your first-time using Shifts and your team doesn’t have schedule already you can create a schedule by following steps below:

  • From the list of Teams click the “Create” button next to the team’s name

 Note: if you’re the owner of just one team your list will have only one team listed

  • Make sure the time zone and the closest city are correct for the shifts you’ll be scheduling and then click “Confirm”
  • Once you click “Confirm” you’ll see the Shifts overview screen appear with an “unnamed group” created by default

Click on “Create” to continue. In the next step select the time zone and the closest city.

Once you click “Confirm” you’ll see the Shifts overview screen appear.

1.1 Creating and Renaming Groups

First step in the new schedule is to rename by default created “Unnamed Group” and add people to it.

To rename by default created “Unnamed Group” click on the ellipsis “…” displayed next to the group name and select “Rename Group”. It can be created up to 20 groups within one team schedule. These groups can have different users and shifts.

1.2 Add/Remove People to/from Groups

To add team members to the group, click “Add people” at the top right-hand corner. Only members of the Team can be added to the group(s).

Note: Shifts currently don’t support guests, which means that guests on a team can’t be added to the Shifts schedule.


To remove team members from the group, click on the ellipsis (“…”) that appear next to the people name when you hover with a mouse over it and then click on “Remove from group” as per the image below.


However, before you can do that, you need to delete all shifts assigned to that team member for the week when you want to remove the team member and for all future timeslots you have assigned the shifts to him/her.

Here are the steps that need to be followed:

  1. If the schedule has been shared for the time period you want to delete shifts, “Recall shared schedule” option should be used (see figure #1 below) and then go to the step #2
  2. If the schedule hasn’t been shared with the team members the shifts can be deleted by using “Delete” option or selecting the shifts and hitting the “Delete” key on the keyboard

Figure #1

NOTE: If you attempt to delete shifts for the schedule that has been shared, the shift will disappear from the user interface, but a star “*” will appear in the left upper corner to mark that the shift is still there (Figure #2). If you try to remove the user after this type of action the Shifts will not let you and the error message will be displayed.

Figure #2

1.3 Creating Open Shifts

The open shifts row allows you to create shifts before allocating them to team members. Double click on the time slot for a specific day in an Open row or just click on any empty slot in the shifts schedule for that group and fill in the details about the shift.

The following screen will appear when you click on a time slot in the “Open Shift” row.

When you click on any empty time slot in the schedule that has a person name associated with, the following screen will appear as for the standard shift. To make a standard shift an Open Shift the “Open Shift” button needs to be toggled off. This action will remove a person’s name from the shift as well.

1.4 Re-assigning existing shifts

There is no functionality within the shift window itself to select another person to re-assign the shift.

To re-assign an existing shift from one member to another you have to copy a shift using either “Copy” /” Paste” options displayed under “…” for that shift (see below image) OR “Ctrl/C” and “Ctrl/V” keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste it into a time slot for a member you want the shift to be re-assigned to.

The shift for the first member should be deleted manually by clicking on “…” for that shift and select “Delete” as the system will not delete it (see below image).

1.5 Copy a Schedule

To copy a schedule, click on the “Copy” button displayed in the upper right-hand corner. The pop-up window will appear where you can select a time period that you want to copy and how many weeks into the future you want a selected schedule to be copied to.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To copy only one group schedule select the group under “Copy schedule groups” (see the figure below). If you leave this setting as “All” than the entire schedule (all groups) will be copied to the selected date in the future. The same applies to the “Include shift notes, activities, time off and open shifts” setting.

1.6 Day Notes

To create a Day Note for a team double click in the time slot for that day in a Day Notes row and type a note for all team to see. If you have already created a schedule and shared it with a team, you would need to click on “Share with team” button once you’re completed updating your schedule with day notes added.

NOTE: Day Note applies to the entire Team’s Shifts Schedule and not to the individual groups created within the Team’s Shifts Schedule.

1.7 Use tags to communicate with others in your shift

When you name the shift, it automatically becomes a tag. The tag can be used in @members on the To line in a chat or in a post on any standard channel of a team.
Shift based tags let you reach people who are on-shift in real time. Notifications are sent only to those people who are on-shit at the time the tag is used in a chat or channel post. For example:

  • A store manager uses the @Cahshiers tag to post an announcement to a channel for all on-shift cashiers.
  • A nurse uses @CardiologistOnCall tag to start a chat with all on-call cardiologists

To read part 2 of this article, click here.

Written By:

Rajna Pajkic

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