Transformative Call Center Scheduling Ideas

August 23, 2022
A focused male professional working at a desk with a computer displaying scheduling and calendar applications.

The Transformative Idea

Allowing your workforce to pick their own schedules and essentially work from anywhere builds resilience and redundancy - this is empirically true in the contact center industry. If you do this with an on-demand workforce, you also build in elasticity which means that you can scale in real time with your business needs.

Moving to an on-demand workforce, or at least a hybrid workforce, can address the key business issue of finding and retaining workers within a limited budget, while simultaneously increasing agent productivity, happiness, and morale. A true win-win. Although these call center scheduling ideas may seem radical, please read on to see how they are backed by data.

The Importance of Resilience

We live in uncertain times. Be it social, political, environmental, or economic, we are in an era that is marked by change, disruption, and upheaval. In business, the evolution of the word “disruption” has been particularly interesting. What was once considered a very negative action is now associated with some of the biggest and healthiest companies of our time (i.e. Uber, Apple, and Amazon to name a few!).

Thriving in these times takes perseverance, maybe a little luck, and certainly a big dose of resilience.

The topic of building resilience is one that resonates soundly here at Agents Only. We often talk to our customers about using a distributed workforce to build redundancy, scale, and ultimately resilience in a workforce. Further, we like to show that agent productivity actually increases when you empower your workforce with flexible scheduling and allowing them to work from wherever they want. It’s a point that still seems counterintuitive to many business leaders, but it is a point that is supported more and more by facts - the most resilient workforces are actually the ones that are in control of their own schedule.

The Research

It was very intriguing to us when we recently came across an article written by McKinsey that talks about risk and resilience in today’s business climate. One item that really caught our eye was that McKinsey posited this statement as a current universal truth that is leading the uncertainty that is prevalent in the markets today:

“Ongoing workforce management issues won’t be solved soon. Our latest research indicates that workers are still feeling ambivalent about their response to the pandemic, and companies are still struggling to attract them.”

Furthermore, Mckinsey states that the playbooks of the past simply are not applicable in today’s climate, and that finding and retaining talent, along with constraining margin and profitability, are essentially brand new problems facing businesses today.

Many of the customers that we talk to certainly face the same concerns brought up in the McKinsey article.

Another important point that they make is that, regardless of where your business fits on the spectrum of readiness and company health, there are actionable steps that you can take today to better position your company when the new business cycle actually hits. Through “foresight”, “response”, and “adaptation”, Mckinsey claims that businesses can build resilience by applying these three principles correctly.

With companies that are in the “pivot to profit” and the “fight to survive” modes, the advice that is given in the article is that management’s focus should be on finding and keeping talent, while juxtaposed against being fiscally conservative.

Again, we concur with these findings, but we take it a step further - specifically as it relates to a company’s contact center. Rather than squeezing HR and Operations in an effort to cut costs, why not empower these groups by vastly increasing their talent pools while building a model that scales in lock step with a company’s needs (i.e. an on-demand workforce)?

Further research shows that productivity and job satisfaction actually improve when you empower your employees with flexible scheduling and remote work options. A study from Stanford University   showed that “Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment). Home workers also reported improved work satisfaction, and their attrition rate halved”.

Additionally, a Harvard paper found that ‘When previously on-site workers took up opportunities to go remote in 2018, their hourly calls rose by 7.5%. Similarly, when COVID-19 closed on-site call centers, (the data) suggests that the productivity of workers who switched to remote work rose by 7.6% relative to their already remote peers’.

Looking for more ideas to improve your call center scheduling? Read our essential guide for forecasting and scheduling here.

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The Insight

Building a resilient workforce through flexible scheduling.

So we know that working remotely definitely increases productivity. We also backed this data with our own case study that shows that Schedule Adherence actually increased when we empowered workers to pick their own shifts and hours. Agents are simply more productive, reliable, and happy when they are in control of their own work hours.

We also know that, as we seem to be headed into a new business cycle, the large think tanks such as McKinsey are recommending that companies treat this moment in time as an inflection point to reassess how they find and retain talent.

The time is now to rethink how to build a productive workforce - especially in non-core areas such as your contact center. Empower your contact center agents by allowing them to pick their own schedules and locations. The trust you build only strengthens employee satisfaction and morale, and in turn leads to better results. If applied properly, this flywheel just keeps spinning in a positive direction.

Supported by facts and data, there is no better time to move to a hybrid workforce. This is where you keep, retain, and invest in your top talent while augmenting this with on-demand workers. It is a win-win scenario for agents and contact center operators worldwide and it just might be the best way to build lasting resiliency for your business.

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