From Micro-Shifts to Schedule Adherence: The Benefits of Remote Agents for Workforce Management Teams

Posted by Call Design on April 05, 2023

As the world becomes more connected, remote work is becoming increasingly popular, especially in our post-pandemic environments. And in the world of contact centers, workforce management teams should be the biggest champions of remote agents!

Why? Well, here are five quick reasons:

  1. Split-shifts
  2. VOT and VTO
  3. Micro-shifts
  4. No longer worrying about seat allocation
  5. Increased schedule adherence

One – Split-Shifts

When agents work remotely your scheduling team suddenly has a lot more options. When people aren’t having to commute to the office, schedules that didn’t make sense before now have great value. Working from 6am-8am and then again from 12pm-6pm might be horrible for people coming and going into the office. However, for someone working from home this now gives them the chance to work some, then get the kids off to school, head to the grocery store when it’s fairly empty, grab some lunch, and then head back to work. It’s likely not for all of your agents, but for some people, this is a huge win.

Two – VOT and VTO

Then there’s voluntary overtime and voluntary time off. How many real-time teams are constantly chasing people to either add a few hours to their shift or drop hours off to help service levels and budget constraints? When agents work from home you can increase your chances of someone willing to work an extra 1 or 2 after their shift if they know they don’t have to commute home. Or agents might be willing to leave after only working 2 hours if they didn’t just waste 45 minutes driving to work. You give your RTA team a fighting chance with VOT and VTO when your agents work from home.

Three – Micro-Shifts

Micro-shifts can be a game changer for many organizations.  Working remotely now opens up the possibility of having someone work just 1-3 hours at a time. When you can create work segments that small you can start having agents self-select their schedule and use micro-shifts as building blocks. Now if you create those segments just when you have staffing shortages you suddenly have a way of giving your agents autonomy and control over their schedules while also flatting out your staffing variations and meeting a more consistent service level. Win-win!

Four – Seat Allocation 

The fourth benefit may be easy for non-contact center folk to overlook, but WFM and operation teams that work in overstaffed centers know the pain of seat management. When scheduling and managing remote agents you no longer have to worry about so-and-so sitting next to each other and talking the whole time, throwing off your shrinkage. Or so-and-so both loving sitting next to the window, but only having one seat available. As a WFM team, you can simply avoid the relational and logistical issues that come with physical contact center seats and simply focus on meeting the demands of the business and customers. 

Five – Schedule Adherence

Our final benefit is close and dear to many WFM hearts, schedule adherence. When agents aren’t getting stuck in traffic their schedule adherence will increase. Now add in schedules with varying start times and lengths, like we already discussed, and pair that with a shift-bid, where agents select their schedules, *chefs kiss*. It may not be magical but it’s as close as we get in the WFM world!

For many WFM teams working from home may seem like a non-issue. Whether the agents work in locations A, B, or at home it’s still just numbers and schedules. Forecasts will be what they are and service level goals will remain the same. However, I believe that perspective is short-sighted and hopefully you now see the benefits to the WFM team when their agents work from home. So let’s get off the sidelines, WFM teams, and start championing remote work efforts. Your agents and their schedule adherence will thank you!

At Call Design we believe employees have the right to be happy, engaged, fulfilled, and aligned at work. Remote agents are a way start to make that happen, but managing, scheduling, and engaging remote workers can be challenging. If you agree that remote agents can benefit your organization, but aren’t sure how to make that happen then reach out! We’d love to help you strategize and implement a great remote program for your contact center.

Dan Smitley