We stepped back earlier this year to focus on why so many businesses still run on pen and paper. We found that offline scheduling was a symptom of deeper communication issues.
Staffjoy V2 is a ground-up rewrite that focuses on sharing work schedules in less time. We do this by sending workers their schedules over text message. When there are changes, we send the latest schedule to affected workers.
We optimized our architecture for messaging, and we plan to expand beyond SMS soon. You can read about it here: https://blog.staffjoy.com/staffjoys-v2-architecture-9d2fcb40...
We chose to focus on text messages after doing extensive user studies in the service industry. We found that many workers lacked email addresses, and operated on prepaid phones. Managers would text them photos of the schedule because it was the best way to reach them. So, we automated this process.
Moving forward, we will focus on improving the core scheduling experience. We plan to use text messages to engage directly with employees and create flexibility. We also plan to integrate scheduling with other business tools. To do that, we plan to announce our first integration partners later this month.
Finally, today we’re excited to announce a $1.2M seed round of funding, led by Caffeinated Capital (detailed here: http://venturebeat.com/2017/01/10/staffjoy-raises-1-2-millio... )
If you have any questions, I'm here to answer them!
I think it's also great that you're building a product that is aimed at people who aren't quite as 'online' as the usual HN crowd, which make up a quite large %age of the population but are generally totally overlooked.
The only problem with that is it is harder to reach these companies (for the very reason your product is interesting to them). I'm curious on what your marketing strategy would be to those kinds of companies?
So, we started a content series called Breaktime where we highlight small businesses and the tools that make them succeed. Our goal is that the businesses we feature will share the content with their networks, which is our target market! We're using the articles and episodes to create rich content across our social channels, too, and we plan to feature more Staffjoy customers!
Here's Breaktime: https://www.staffjoy.com/breaktime/
Our main feature is simulating a call-center to build the correct schedule. Do you offer any features like that, or do you plan to?
Seems tricky to build whilst optimizing for message number (SMS is expensive if you're poor) and usability (large % of users are poorly educated).
As we roll out two-way messages, I've been contemplating internationalization. Date formats are somewhat universal, but for things like shift swapping - I think that we could overcome a lot of usability issues by adding Spanish support quickly.
Regarding cost and education - we also learned in user tests that we still need to support a print schedule. We're in the process of building that out. Our focus is on making structured, accurate scheduling data available to other systems (such as payroll). If that means that we need to focus on a printable view, that's fine :-)
I built it last year. It has basic white-label support, but I'd be happy to work with you guys to integrate the UI more closely with what you already have.
I'm working on a better landing page with screenshots; in the meantime here is a PDF with more info: http://www.blackchair.net/hubfs/SMS_Inbox.pdf
I'll be digging into the beta :).
Lots of API goodness:
For my current product I'm looking for a human-human SMS interface in a browser. Ideally, it should just drop-in and work.
SMSInbox pulls outbound messages directly from Twilio logs and creates an embeddable iframe interface. Does Textit.in offer similar functionality?
I do have other ideas that involve bot replies but have some concerns due to the complexity of the workflows in this product. There are dozens of variables involved.
The only thing that helped alleviate this pressure from the company was arguing that you couldn't have seen a schedule change over the weekend if you had not been originally scheuled to come in that day. All I see this tool doing is helping managers force schedule changes ay any moment and forcing employees into an even worse situation.
Nothing against the founders for their hard work, but this is the sort of business I couldn't ethically invest in even if it gave me a guaranteed large return
I witnessed multiple events where someone had acknowledged a schedule change with a manage with a <1 week notice and had to refuse it. Every single time that happened, that person suddenly had 0-4 hours of work each following week.
I don't see this product doing anything but forcing employees into even tighter servitude for the worst paying employers with how the current situation is in America. If there were greater workplace protections for employees concerning schedule changes I would not have such an issue with this product
If nothing else, Staffjoy maintains strict audit logs and could eventually help companies evaluate managers (average lead time per schedule, etc).
This was held to so strictly across multiple companies that at one point I was told to work 2 hours overtime on a Thursday. The next Friday, the last day of the week for the business, I had the owner show up from their home in another state to take over from me exactly 2 hours before my shift was scheduled to end and I was sent home.
If you're targeting mid tier and above businesses where someone can live off the salary of that one job, I could see them using this for a great benefit for both employee and the employer.Unfortunately I can't see any way that an employer paying minimum wage wouldn't use this to control their employees even more strictly than before
And, I don't see how remaining ignorant of a schedule can help an employee continue to be scheduled. You might think that ideally, schedules should be constant. However, businesses have a legitimate need to reschedule based on unexpectedly high or low volume, illnesses, emergencies, and so on. It isn't unethical to make reschedules easier for either employers or employees.
Going back to the point about legitimate business needs for rescheduling. My experience was that those events accounted for less than 5% of the scheduling changes. Every employee would be working a different shift almost every day, resulting in the same number of employees working during each shift, but in a way that was maximally disruptive to the employees.
I'd agree with you that this sort of situation is dysfunctional, but companies use ignorance to their benefit all the time. The laws companies break and then go, "oops" or even better have no reaction at all, show up on this forum all the time. I don't see why we should work towards removing that tool from employees
If the same notification technology ends up making it painless to switch shifts and line them up, or even to automate more consistent shifts, does that change the ethics for you?
I worked with the competitor because I felt that this is a space ripe for innovation, and that it's been a long time coming. I am incredibly happy that someone is bringing the vision of my former client to life.
Can this be used for covering shifts. When I worked in a job like this, we were allowed to get shifts covered, as long as we found someone to cover it. It would be neat if this service could be used to text everyone that is eligible to cover a shift for the opportunity for extra time.
"Your coworker is looking for someone to cover their front desk shift, Fri 12/9 from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Would you like to cover it?"
We realized that we had to fix a communication problem before we could build swaps. So, we went back to the drawing board and released V2!
You're spot on with your message - now that we have higher engagement with the workforce, we hope to build in that feature :-)
I'm currently building a similar product for a client who manages staff across the country. He gets job leads, then the program needs to (1) identify who is available during the requested time slot, and (2) assign the job to one of the available staff members by texting them sequentially with a timeout asking if they would like to accept/decline the job.
It seems that staffjoy v2 solves (1) and does a good job of keeping track of an availability calendar. I would love to use it for that instead of reinventing the wheel. However, without (2) job assignment, it's a non-starter.
Possibly I could use staffjoy for maintaining the central availability calendar, and then build out the job assignment functionality on top of that. But that causes some usability problems for the staff member who now has two numbers to text.
So, from this, two feature suggestions:
(1) Job assignment functionality (complex, logistics vary by use case)
(2) Ability to send arbitrary messages from the phone number to the user
It seems that (2) would be a simple feature to add and could make integrating staffjoy much easier, because I could fill in the gaps for any missing functionality by building on top of the messaging layer.
Right now, this product is about 50% of what I need, but there's no easy way for me to add the additional 50%.
If you want to talk about this you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm pretty sure employees want to feel less on call, not to mention keep their one last silo of personal communication free from yet another greedy overlord.
When I worked retail I saw the above issues every week, and would have welcomed a solution that I would know to be always up-to-date, was not filled with irrelevant information, and was convenient to access.
That is more of management incompetence issue- if they make a schedule change after posting the schedule, they should inform (and ask permission) from affected employees- duh! But, I am forced to accept that many managers (especially in these types of jobs) are indeed inept.
For instance, they would text the manager when they were running late to a shift. The manager would not be checking their phone, and it caused issues.
We found in user tests that many employees don't have email, and even run on prepaid phones. So, every Sunday they drive to each of their jobs (sometimes two or more) to find out when they are working. Alternatively, their manager (or a coworker) takes a photo of the schedule and texts it to them.
That's the person we built this V2 for. We're saving them time compared to traveling to work to see a printed schedule.
We want to further increase flexibility with tools like shift swapping. However, like I detailed in our other comment, using methods like email didn't have high enough engagement to give workers access to the feature. So, we built Staffjoy V2 with the idea of increasing engagement so that we could build more worker-friendly tools.
Finally, the workers can turn it off if they want.
Anyone reading along should remember this point. It's worth remembering because I've seen it over and over from when I started in the job market all the way today with even Fortune 100 companies. Those I know that did something about it usually involves signing in with username & password over Internet. Many of these companies have workers that don't want to deal with their crappy intranets or just have prepaid phones. A service that either totally or as an option appeals to such people has a massive, potential userbase to draw on if they can convince companies to use their software.
2) When workers are onboarded via text message, we send them an ical links so they can add the schedule to their phone calendar directly!
3) Calendar invites don't scale well beyond 5 employees. We've seen it in user studies. It's ugly and hard to use.