Managing rotations in shift scheduling: A guide

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Shannon , Design

Managers are spending 10+ hours a week creating schedules for their teams and it’s no wonder why. Planning is a complicated task with a lot of moving parts; extended service hours, differing start times, multiple working patterns, agent preferences – it all adds up.

At Surfboard we’re excited to share our brand new shift planning tools designed to help manage this complexity. Our new features now allow you to automatically schedule fixed and rotating shifts for each of your surfers – making it easier to account for all your team’s needs.

Rotating shifts are additional working days or hours that are scheduled at differing frequencies to usual fixed shifts. They can benefit teams by helping to schedule ‘unpopular shifts’, like evenings or weekends, or to account for a surfer’s outside commitments.

Stagger shifts for better coverage

When you’re working with long operating hours, staggering shift start times is a great way to retain good coverage throughout the day and avoid being under or overstaffed. More options for working hours also allows for more flexibility, meaning you can work with your surfers to find a pattern that suits their needs, and keeps your service on track.

In Surfboard, you can set up as many shifts as your team needs while also planning for and spreading out breaks to maintain your service levels using our intelligent break planning tool.

You don’t need to sacrifice social life for service

Changing working days and times are the norm for customer service teams, but it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice regularity. Getting advance notice of shift schedules and keeping a relative level of consistency is vital for surfers to retain their work-life balance.

Planning rotating shift patterns can also help your surfers to predict their upcoming schedules beyond the 8 weeks Surfboard provides. So there will be no surprises when your surfers are put on the late shift once a month.

In Surfboard, you can choose to combine fixed and rotating schedules into unique shift patterns for every surfer in your team. Once you’ve set it up, Surfboard will automatically schedule their shifts every week so you don’t need to keep track.

Rotations can be fairer and more convenient

There are often cases where you need to staff typically ‘unpopular’ shifts and none of your agents will volunteer to work it.

Rotating schedules are a great way to fairly distribute these shifts across the team. Shifts can be scheduled in turn, so you and your surfers can feel confident that each team member is doing their part to share the responsibility.

It’s worth noting that these ‘unpopular’ weekend or evening shifts may not always be unpopular to everyone. Working parents or students often prefer these shifts as it gives them the chance to take care of other tasks during the day such as studying or childcare.

It’s best practice to get to know your team, their preferences and their needs outside of work, so you can find a working pattern that suits them.

Length matters

When planning rotations for your team, it’s important to consider the cadence of the rotation. You can keep it as simple as alternating weeks, earlies followed by lates and so on, or you can opt for less frequent rotations depending on your team’s needs.

When it comes to night shifts, planning needs to be taken more seriously. It takes about 10 days for the body to adjust to the sleeping hours of a night shift, so many people advocate for prolonged rotations, such as two to three weeks.

Plan for rest time

A benefit of rotating shifts, is that you can change your surfers hours week to week but it can come with its own problems.

Moving between different shift times can negatively impact surfers mental and physical health, so planning for rest time is key. The 4×4 or ‘4 on 4 off’ model is popular with shift workers as it gives employees plenty of time to recuperate between shifts.

With Surfboard’s shift planning tools, we’ve also made it easy to plan additional days off in lieu, so you can make sure your surfers stay within their contracted hours and receive the rest they need.

Moving to 24/7 operating hours

Many companies are now offering 24/7 customer service to better serve their international and ‘always online’ customers. If your team is considering moving to 24/7 operating hours, then the first thing to do is understand how to effectively schedule your team.

This is where rotations can really help with shift planning. Effectively plan each of your teams by rotating through different start times, allowing you to provide service and hit your targets at any hour of the day.

Using metadata from your connected platforms, Surfboard forecasts your inflow throughout the day so you can view your staffing needs for all shifts. This data combined with our team and shift planning tools means you can easily plan and automate shift rotations for your support team.

Start using Surfboard today

To find out more about how you can automate your team’s scheduling using Surfboard, get in touch using the form below:

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