When ‘Teamworks’ Isn’t Working, Starbucks Baristas Pay a Price

How a new app at the coffee chain is impacting workers

JUNE 25, 2019 | COWORKER.ORG

Source: Kārlis Dambrāns, https://www.flickr.com/photos/janitors/30925026600

Earlier this year, Starbucks rolled out a new scheduling app called Teamworks. Starbucks baristas can access their work schedules by downloading the Teamworks app to their personal devices. They also use Teamworks on company-owned devices at Starbucks locations when clocking in and out of shifts.

Starbucks has publicly touted that the Teamworks app will improve scheduling and make it easier for managers to set weekly schedules. During a quarterly earnings call in late April, Starbucks Chief Operating Officer and Group President of Americas Rosalind Gates Brewer told financial analysts:

“I’ll also mention too that we implemented Teamworks this quarter and Teamworks is our labor scheduling initiative and it allows our schedule accuracy to improve. And our partners really respond to that because they know their hours. And I — actually it makes the planning process much easier for the store manager and reduces the amount of work. So, we’ve got great engagement right now, a we’re not seeing a shift in our attrition right now.”

But in online forums and on Coworker.org, Starbucks partners are sharing experiences that often differ from the company executives’ descriptions.

In several threads on Reddit, Starbucks baristas have shared technical problems in the Teamworks app that they believe may have led to their hours being recorded incorrectly.

via Reddit
via Reddit

Others have noted that the Teamworks app often loads slowly in their stores — which can make baristas late to their shift or means they must show up early in order to clock in on time.

via Reddit
via Reddit

Others noted that TeamWorks has caused baristas to be scheduled outside of their availability or that they’re being scheduled for fewer hours in general.

For example:

via Reddit

Baristas have also raised privacy concerns about downloading the app to their personal mobile devices because of the apps’ functionality and terms of service.

via Reddit
via Reddit

We asked Starbucks baristas across the country what they think about Teamworks. Here’s what they told us:

  • 33% said that a problem with the Teamworks app made them late for a shift;
  • 27% said Teamworks recorded their hours incorrectly;
  • 23% said they were getting scheduled for fewer hours or for times outside their availability;
  • 17% said they had to go in early or stay late to deal with Teamworks.

Some baristas share additional issues they’ve experienced including:

“Errors with system caused shortage with paychecks.”

“Vacations previously approved on paper not in system, so we don’t get time off.”

“Closing in and out is worse and makes us all late.”

“I was told that Teamworks would now only allow my store manager to only schedule me within my availability; however my store manager has told me she is able to override that action and does so. This is inconvenient and unfair.”

Many baristas chose not to download the app on their personal devices and shared concerns about privacy such as:

“I don’t trust the app and I am a cyber security major. I would not recommend downloading it.”

“I did not want them to have full access to my personal device.”

“Data tracking will always be a concern no matter what the company says.”

“[I] wasn’t comfortable accepting all of the access it required.”

“Do I have to keep all 4 of these apps to use Teamworks on my iPhone?! (That and sign away all my privacy rights?!)” via Reddit

The privacy implications of the Teamworks app as well as the functional concerns surfaced by baristas raise important questions about how new workplace technology impacts the lives of workers. Teamworks is one piece of a growing trend that some have referred to as “the datafication of employment” — a trend that introduces new challenges for workers interested in building their collective power to improve their workplaces.

Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign about changes you want to see in your workplace on Coworker.org here — or contact us at info@coworker.org if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.

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