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Workforce Management

Split Shifts: The Pros and Cons of the (New) Workforce Management Trend

CommunityWFM Team
Written By CommunityWFM Team
On Sep, 18 2020
3 minute read

Some contact center managers may have considered split shifts in the past, but for many it just wasn’t a feasible solution. Asking your agents to drive into the office for only a few hours at a time didn’t make sense for anyone involved.

However, because of COVID-19 organizations have been forced to expand their remote workforce and the idea of split shifts makes a lot more sense. With everyone working at home, the commuting to the office component doesn’t exist anymore, which opens up more realistic opportunities for different types of shift work.

Here are some of the main pros and cons of split shifts so you can determine if this workforce management trend would be a good fit for your contact center.

PROS

Different work/life balance appeals to unique agent pool – Simply put, a 9 to 5 career isn’t right for everyone. Maybe someone needed to leave the workforce to care for their children or parents and can no longer work full time. Does this mean they aren’t interested in working? Of course not! The nice thing about split shifts is they often provide a gap in the middle of the day to focus on life responsibilities, and a common reason why split shifts are increasing in popularity is for parents looking to make extra money. They drop their kids off at school in the early morning, come home to work their first shift, then clock out. After they head back to the school to pick up their children, they’ll come home and make dinner before clocking into the second part of their shift before bed. Split shifts are a great option to find motivated agents that require schedule flexibility. Companies like Uber have driven this “work when you can” mentality to the forefront of business, and more contact centers are following suit.

Easier to staff a workforce up and down workforce to meet contact demand – One of the biggest advantages of split shifts is that with the right workforce management software you can quickly ramp up or decrease your workforce based on contact volume. For example, if you find out a marketing promotion is set to launch next Friday afternoon, you can schedule agents to work the early morning shift when call volume is the highest, take a break in the late morning through lunch, and then work another shift after the promotion goes live.

Higher productivity from agents when on the clock – Combating agent fatigue can be an issue for contact centers. You simply can’t expect an agent to function at the same level as when they clocked in after they’ve been working for seven hours. This type of fatigue isn’t an issue with split shifts. Agents often work in short 2-3 hour bursts, meaning they are often able to take a mental break after their first shift and come back recharged for the second shift.

 

CONS

Unreliable hours if split shifts are linked to demand – Split shifts tied to contact volume can fluctuate based on projected demand spikes. One day an agent could be scheduled for an early morning and late afternoon split, and the next day they will have a mid afternoon and evening split. This type of work can be difficult for agents that usually have time restrictions in their schedule for personal reasons, like not being able to work early mornings or evenings, and could result in these agents becoming frustrated with split shift scheduling.

Split shifts are not for slow starters – There always seems to be that one person in an office that is slow at getting settled in and doing work. They clock in, get water, make breakfast, and talk to colleagues. They’re basically doing pretty much anything except starting on their work. But, somehow they manage to keep their productivity high and get their job done. This mentality may be tolerated over long shifts where an agent has an opportunity to make up for a slow start, but with split shifts there isn’t time. Recovering from a half hour of slacking off on an 8-hour shift can and does happen, but when a shift is only three hours there is a bigger priority to start working right away.

 

To summarize, there are some clear pros and cons to split shifts, but there are also opportunities for many contacts centers to leverage some form of this (new) workforce management trend. The first step is to identify where a split shift would make sense, and then get a feel among your agents who specifically would be interested in working a split shift. Split shifts aren’t for everyone, but they can be a unique solution to improve agent happiness. They also enable companies to find highly qualified agents who are out of the workforce because the typical workday doesn’t sync up with the demands of their current life.

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