What is Intraday Scheduling in workforce management?

A customer support agents intraday schedule showing breaks and service time
Written by:
Picture of Natasha Ratanshi-Stein

Natasha Ratanshi-Stein , Founder & CEO

Looking to streamline your workforce management process?

Intraday scheduling, powered by intraday management software, offers an effective method for optimising schedules to benefit both teams and customers.

Using intraday workforce management tools allows agents to proactively plan their schedules, while you reduce the need for constant adjustments at the last minute.

In this blog, we define intraday scheduling, exploring its advantages, offering tips to introduce intraday staffing, and explain how intraday performance will benefit your CS teams.

Intraday definition—what is intraday scheduling?

Intraday scheduling involves assigning your agents’ tasks throughout the day, in addition to just their work hours. Going beyond just when staff work, it specifies what they work on, too. Intraday or activity scheduling allows you to plan smarter, prescribing who works on what tasks at what point in the day. 

For support teams, it means allocating specific times for activities like phone calls, emails, and chats. It also covers non-support tasks like training, meetings, and scheduled breaks.

If you’re offering live channels (phones and live chat), you should schedule enough agents to meet your service level targets (how quickly you pick up phones and respond to messages). Without the staff to cover these channels, your customers will be left waiting, and your team will experience long phone queues and sizable backlogs. Intraday staffing ensures you’ll be covered across the board, leaving no gaps in your schedule. 


Intraday scheduling vs. real-time scheduling

Intraday scheduling is proactive and refers to planning specific tasks to work on throughout the day. This is often done in advance, so you’re assured that respective channels and workflows are taken care of. Plus, team members come into work with clarity on how they will spend their day.

On the other hand, real-time scheduling is reactive and involves scheduling to meet changing circumstances, such as:

  • Ticket volumes differ from forecasted volumes due to more calls, chats or emails coming in.
  • Shrinkage or agent sickness means you have less capacity than expected 
  • A backlog hasn’t been cleared as fast as you’d predicted.

When any of these events happen, it impacts your service levels, and based on your tolerance for lower performance, you may need to use real-time scheduling to adjust accordingly. 

Still unclear on the differences? Here’s a quick guide: 

Scheduling comparison

Scheduling comparison: Intraday vs Real-time

Intraday Scheduling Real-time Scheduling
When? Done in advance. Implemented as changes and situations occur.
Why? Macro-level planning for the day, to ensure clarity and smooth workflow.

Flexibility: Less flexible due to its pre-planned nature.

Challenges: Ensuring tasks align with demand forecasts.
Micro-level adjustments to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, optimising performance and maintaining service levels.

Flexibility: Highly flexible and adaptive to address changing circumstances swiftly and efficiently.

Challenges: Balancing resources effectively during fluctuations in demand, making rapid adjustments to mitigate impact on service levels.
Example You schedule tasks and specific times for agents to be on phones, email, live-chat. To deal with higher call volumes than forecasted, you re-assign agents from live chat to phones, helping to handle the inflow and ease the workload, and keep wait times low.

What are the benefits of intraday workforce management?

Intraday workforce management is the process of optimising and managing your workforce throughout the day using WFM. WFM intraday management and intraday staffing involve scheduling, monitoring, and adjusting employee workloads to ensure the most efficient use of your resources and the best possible customer service. 

Here are five key benefits of intraday workforce management:

1. Better planning

Fundamentally, intraday scheduling is the best way to meet your service levels. By scheduling enough people for the right tasks at the right time, you create the best way of ensuring your customers aren’t left waiting on the phone to get through to your team or with chat conversations pending.

Real-time scheduling is a weapon used in emergencies; but it shouldn’t be the norm. It’s disruptive for the team and gives you a headache. Invest time and effort into intraday workforce management to avoid these last-minute changes. 

Beyond just the basics of covering your channels, intraday workforce management software and contact centre intraday software allow you to plan when your team spends time on training, meetings, and non-inbound tasks such as project work and admin tasks. This means you can more accurately calculate how your team spends their time and ensure the various tasks are accounted for.

Many support teams require their team to partake in ongoing training but don’t schedule time for this, resulting in a breakdown of trust. Intraday scheduling is an excellent way of making schedules work for managers, teams, and customers.

2. More productive agents 

With intraday workforce management, you avoid spending all your time making last-minute schedule changes, while agents get the necessary time and coaching that will empower them to be great in their roles. This leads to a noticeable improvement in team productivity and effectiveness. It also points to something more profound—agent happiness and wellbeing.

With intraday scheduling, you can also identify idle time, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies in real-time. You can adjust employee workloads, tasks, or even shift assignments. This leads to improved productivity as employees are engaged in meaningful work, experience reduced downtime, and are more focused throughout their shifts. 

3. Reduced wait times

Intraday workforce management allows you to respond promptly to demand and customer traffic fluctuations. With the right number of agents available to handle incoming calls or service requests, wait times can be minimised. Reduced wait times improve customer satisfaction, as customers experience quicker responses and are less likely to abandon interactions due to lengthy hold times. 

Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal to the company, resulting in increased customer retention and a feedback loop of positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Companies like Mercuryo have been able to use intraday performance to cut down on wait times and achieve top-notch service levels.

4. Happier teams

It’s been proven that a lack of input and pre-knowledge of working shifts negatively impacts your agents. Intraday scheduling enables you to plan and provide your teams with the schedule further in advance. This not only sets aside time for training and development but also leads to flexibility. This means that your agents can plan their lives ahead of time. Instead of fitting their life around an ever—changing work schedule, they can fit their lifestyle around work. 

Effective intraday workforce management can boost employee morale and job satisfaction. Employees who experience optimised schedules with fair workloads are less likely to feel overwhelmed or frustrated. Hence, they are more motivated, engaged, and willing to go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service.

Intraday management systems also give your agents more control over their schedules through shift swapping or time-off requests, further contributing to job satisfaction.

5. Minimised costs

By accurately forecasting demand and staffing requirements in real-time, intraday workforce management helps you minimise the need for unplanned overtime. Unforeseen demand fluctuations can often lead to excessive overtime costs if not adequately managed. 

With better planning and daily adjustments, you ensure that workloads are distributed efficiently, and overtime is limited to specific situations only. Reducing overtime costs helps businesses optimise labour expenses and balance operational efficiency and budgetary control. Additionally, intraday automation through contact centre intraday software allows you to organise your teams with a fraction of the effort and resources, further bringing down costs.

See how Surfboard helps Butternut Box with intraday scheduling, and more, to save time and focus on what’s important. 

5 tips for intraday workforce management

Here are five tips to help you optimise your intraday performance:

1. Real-time monitoring and analytics

Implement intraday management software for real-time monitoring and analytics, providing essential insights into workforce metrics like call volumes, handling times, SLAs, and agent availability. This continuous tracking allows for the identification of trends and peak periods, allowing for swift, informed adjustments in intraday staffing and scheduling. With intraday management in your call centre, you can reallocate agents in response to unexpected spikes in demand, ensuring efficient intraday performance and uninterrupted customer service.

For example, if you notice a sudden spike in call volumes, you can reassign agents from less-busy departments to handle the workload, ensuring coherent and consistent customer service.

2. Flexibility in scheduling

Intraday management in call centres requires a flexible approach to scheduling. Recognise that unexpected events, like sudden surges in inflow, agent absences, or technical issues, can impact staffing needs. To handle these situations effectively, you should:

  • Create contingency plans and have a pool of on-call agents who can step up during emergencies.
  • Adopt a shift-swapping policy to accommodate agent preferences and unforeseen personal issues.
  • Empower agents to request voluntary time-off or swap shifts, within reason, to ensure a happy and engaged workforce.

3. Real-time communication

Establish clear and efficient communication channels between you and your team. Effective communication is crucial for disseminating critical information, addressing sudden changes, and managing agent availability.

Utilise messaging platforms or workforce management tools that allow you and your agents to exchange information promptly. Transparent communication helps your team understand their roles and responsibilities, creates a supportive environment, and reduces uncertainty during peak periods.

4. Continuous training and coaching

Invest in continuous training and coaching programmes for your agents. Well-trained agents are more likely to handle customer inquiries efficiently, reducing handling times and improving customer satisfaction.

Intraday workforce management should include short, targeted training sessions during quieter periods of the day. These sessions can address specific customer pain points or new product features, enhancing your employee’s skills.

Regular coaching and feedback sessions can help agents improve their performance and increase their confidence in handling complex customer issues.

5. Performance analysis and feedback

Regularly assess your intraday workforce performance through analytics and gather feedback from agents and customers. Use performance data to identify trends and areas for improvement. Celebrate successes and acknowledge outstanding performances to boost team morale.

Feedback from your agents and your customers helps you identify pain points and areas where the workforce management process can be refined. Implement necessary changes based on this feedback to enhance operational efficiency and overall customer experience.

Wrapping up

If you’re facing issues like over-allocation or under-allocation of resources, idle or overworked agents, intraday workforce management is your solution.

Intraday scheduling can help you make better plans for your team’s activities. It can help you identify missed opportunities and solve potential bottlenecks. In short, you can make the most of your team’s time with intraday scheduling.

Surfboard’s efficient, fair, and automated intraday scheduling can get you productive teams and happier customers. Our employee shift scheduling software handles scheduling across various time zones effortlessly and automates scheduling, freeing up your time to focus on more impactful tasks. 

What is Intraday scheduling in workforce management

Surfboard automatically schedules for you with in-built activity scheduling as a fully customisable feature so that your automated schedule reflects exactly how your team works in the simplest, smartest and fairest way possible. Besides just intraday automation, top features include:

Learn how Surfboard helped Lick, a home decor provider, reduce planning time by 75%. The company managed part-time and full-time staff schedules with forecasting and provided heatmaps for manual adjustments.

Book a demo with us to see how Surfboard can help your support teams reach success.

Book a demo


What is intraday scheduling?

Intraday definition: Intraday scheduling involves allocating specific tasks and activities, like phone calls, emails, and non-support tasks, to agents throughout their workday, ensuring efficient task distribution. To meet SLA targets and avoid backlogs, it’s crucial for support teams to complement agent scheduling with live channel demands. This approach not only determines the times when staff work, but also precisely what tasks they undertake at any given time, optimising operational efficiency.

What is the difference between intraday scheduling and daily scheduling?

Intraday scheduling enables real-time workforce adjustments and quick responses to fluctuations, contrasting with daily scheduling’s fixed schedules with limited adaptability. Intraday focuses on instant responses to demand changes, whereas daily scheduling lacks flexibility for immediate adjustments, making it less suitable for businesses with unpredictable workloads.

Is intraday scheduling a good strategy?

Intraday scheduling in call centres optimises workforce management and enhances operational efficiency by using real-time data and analytics for intraday monitoring, leading to informed decision-making. By avoiding overstaffing during slow periods and preventing understaffing during peak times, it leads to significant cost savings.

How many hours do call centre employees work?

Call centre employees’ working hours vary due to factors like company policies, local laws, and operational needs. Full-timers usually work 35-40 hours weekly, while part-timers do 20-30 hours. With 24/7 operations, employees often have rotating shifts, leading to variable weekly or monthly hours, and may work overtime during busy periods or staff shortages.

If you’d like to learn more about intraday scheduling and how it can benefit support teams, explore Surfboard today

Get in touch: