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Starbucks Baristas Want Control Over Their Hours. There's an App for That

Shyft lets hourly employees trade shifts, effectively wresting control of scheduling from restaurants and retailers.
Inside A Starbucks Corp. Location Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Photographer: Victor J. Blue /Bloomberg

Next week Starbucks barista Foster Cooley will be traveling. Normally he'd have to ask or text co-workers to fill in for him at his Chandler, Arizona, cafe and hope someone can take his shifts. Instead he's using an app to post his hours to baristas in the entire region.

Called Shyft, the app emerged from Seattle Techstars, an accelerator program that backs promising startups. With little marketing and no cooperation from major retailers, Shyft says it has signed up 12,000 workers at U.S. Starbucks stores, more than 7,500 at McDonald's and 3,500-plus at Old Navy. In the past three months, workers have exchanged the equivalent of 26,000 hours on the app, according to Shyft Chief Executive Officer Brett Patrontasch. If the app catches on more widely, it's sure to be unpopular in the corporate suite because it essentially wrests away control over scheduling.