Workforce Scheduling 101: The Options Available to Contact Centers

Reinvent contact center scheduling processes and bolster engagement rates

Workforce Scheduling 101 The Options Available to Contact Centers
Contact CentreWFOStrategy

Last Edited: October 14, 2022

CX Today Team

In the past, many contact centers approached workforce scheduling like a game of Tetris, fitting agents into blocks of time to meet forecasted demand.

In theory, doing so would ensure that operations meet service levels.

Yet, workforce scheduling is about much more than hitting this target. It also influences agent engagement and – consequently – the quality of service they offer.

As such, planners must also factor in agent needs, including work-life balance, overtime, exhaustion, peak productivity hours, and general well-being.

For this reason, workforce scheduling strikes a delicate balance and is often referred to as an art and a science.

Which Schedule Types Should Your Contact Centers Offer?

As a rule of thumb, contact centers should engage with their agent population to learn their schedule and shift preferences.

Over time, they can then build new schedules that meet agent desires and facilitate maximum engagement. These may include any of the following shift patterns.

  • Full-Time Work Schedules – Agents work the same days and hours each week under this sort of plan, typically 37.5-40 core hours. However, this does not have to follow the traditional five-day-a-week structure. Indeed, many agents prefer to spread these hours over four days.
  • Part-Time Schedules – If agents wish to work less than full-time hours, this option allows them more flexibility. Such a schedule may include fixed hours.
  • Fixed Schedules – A fixed work schedule identifies a set of hours and days that remain constant for an agent’s tenure. These hours may be both full-time and part-time schedules.
  • Flexible Work Schedules – A flexible schedule gives a set amount of hours each week, but they may bid for the shifts they want. Most modern WFM systems enable this.
  • Split-Shift Work Schedules – An employee’s shift is divided into two halves under this sort of work schedule. The extended break may allow them to complete domestic chores, such as picking children up from school.
  • Casual Work Schedules – Under zero-hour contracts, casual workers bid for shifts with no guarantee of hours. Casual workers often make up a fraction of the overall agent population.
  • Rotating Shift Schedules – Under rotations, agents fulfill a variety of day and night shifts as determined by the employer. These often work well for plugging schedule gaps but are notoriously unpopular as nobody lives a rotational life. For this reason, contact centers are now gravitating towards more innovative shift patterns.

Maximizing Customer, Agent, and Business Outcomes

Contact center scheduling is infamously tricky, especially as contact centers expand, add new channels, and book more agents.

However, a skillful scheduler can unlock several benefits for customers, employees, and the broader business.

For instance, by scheduling the right number of agents against forecasted demand, contact centers can meet service level targets and manage customer wait times.

When this happens, the business reaps the rewards of happier customers while spending less money on drafting agents in for overtime.

Finally, if schedulers can achieve this while meeting the schedule preferences of agents, they enable a happier, engaged workforce.

Learn how to increase the prominence of WFM in the contact center and unlock these benefits by reading our article: Putting WFM at the Heart of the Contact Centre


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