What is Intraday Scheduling in workforce management?

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Written by:
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Natasha Ratanshi-Stein , Founder & CEO

Want to simplify workforce management?

Intraday scheduling is a great way of making schedules work for teams and customers. 

With intraday workforce management, surfers can plan their lives ahead of time and managers can avoid spending all their time on making last-minute schedule changes.

In this blog, we define intraday scheduling and learn the benefits and tips to unlock the full potential of your workforce and achieve operational excellence.


What is intraday scheduling

Intraday scheduling, or activity scheduling, involves planning team members’ tasks throughout the day, beyond just their work hours. For support teams, it means allocating time for activities like phone calls, emails, and chats. It also covers non-support tasks like training, meetings, and breaks for various teams. 

This means it goes beyond planning when people work and specifies what they work on across the day. Intraday or activity scheduling allows you to plan, prescribing who works on what tasks at what point in the day. 

For support teams, if you’re offering live channels (phones and live chat) you must plan who is working on these channels at the right time to meet your service level targets (how quickly you pick up phones and respond to messages). Without scheduling enough people to cover these channels, your customers will be left waiting, and your team will experience long phone queues and sizeable backlogs. 

Intraday scheduling vs. real time scheduling

Intraday scheduling refers to planning the specific tasks to work on during working hours. Often this is done in advance so managers are assured that their channels and workflows are taken care of. Also, team members come into work with clarity on how they will spend their day.

On the other hand, real-time scheduling is reacting to changes in circumstances. For example,

  •  Ticket volumes differ from forecasted volumes, and more calls, chats or emails are coming in.
  • You have less capacity than expected due to shrinkage or surfer sickness.
  • You haven’t cleared a backlog as fast as you had predicted.

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

Real-time scheduling often involves moving team members to different activities, shift breaks, or sometimes shift working hours. In the latter example, if you have less ticket volume than expected, you might suggest your team take the remainder of the shift off and cancel any flexible shifts or overtime. The most popular form of real-time scheduling is amending the tasks or activities your team members are working on to better optimise for the new circumstances you encounter.

Intraday scheduling vs real-time scheduling – At a glance

Aspect Intraday scheduling Real-time Scheduling
Definition Planning specific tasks during working hours. Reacting at the time to changes in circumstances and making immediate adjustments to tasks and activities
Timing Done in advance. Implemented as events occur, addressing sudden changes or unexpected situations.
Purpose Ensures clarity and smooth workflow. Adapt to unforeseen circumstances to maintain service levels and performance.
Planning Pre-planned and organised. Requires quick decisions and flexibility.
Examples Assigning tasks for phone, email, etc. Dealing with higher ticket volumes than forecasted. Increased calls/chats/emails, reduced capacity due to sickness, or slower backlog clearance.
Impact on service levels Generally stable and predictable. The immediate impact is based on the response to unexpected events.
Challenges Ensuring tasks align with demand forecasts. Balancing resources effectively during unexpected spikes or drops in demand, making quick adjustments to mitigate any negative impact on service levels.
Flexibility Less flexible due to its pre-planned nature. Highly flexible and adaptive to address changing circumstances swiftly and efficiently.
Focus Macro-level planning for the day. Micro-level adjustments to optimise performance and respond to immediate needs.

What are the benefits of intraday workforce management?

Intraday workforce management is the process of optimising and managing a workforce in real-time throughout a business day. WFM intraday management involves activities like scheduling, monitoring, and adjusting employee workloads to ensure the most efficient use of 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 on 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; it should not be the norm. It’s disruptive for the team and causes a headache for managers. 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 allows 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 teams

With intraday workforce management, managers can avoid spending all their time making last-minute schedule changes, while surfers have the necessary coaching that will empower them to be great at their jobs. This leads to a noticeable improvement in team productivity and effectiveness. It also points to something more profound, surfer happiness.

With intraday scheduling, managers can also identify idle time, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies in real-time. They 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 better utilised throughout their shifts. 

3. Reduced wait times

Intraday workforce management allows businesses to respond promptly to demand and customer traffic fluctuations. With the right number of surfers available to handle incoming calls, enquiries, 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 positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

4. Happier team

Intraday scheduling enables managers to plan and provide their 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 surfers 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. 

It’s been proven beyond doubt that a lack of input and pre-knowledge of working shifts negatively impact surfers. Hence, intraday scheduling is necessary to keep teams happier in their roles and lives. 

Effective intraday workforce management can positively impact 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 employees more control over their schedules through shift swapping or time-off requests, further contributing to job satisfaction.

5. Minimised overtime costs

By accurately forecasting demand and staffing requirements in real-time, intraday workforce management helps 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, managers can 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.

5 tips for intraday workforce management

Here are five tips to help you effectively manage your intraday workforce:

1. Real-time monitoring and analytics

  • Implement a robust real-time monitoring and analytics system that provides insights into key workforce metrics. This includes data on call volumes, average handling times, service level agreements (SLAs), and surfer availability. 
  • Utilise workforce management software to track and analyse these metrics continuously throughout the day. This data will help you identify trends, peak periods, and areas requiring immediate attention, enabling you to make informed decisions quickly.

For example, if you notice a sudden spike in call volumes, you can reassign surfers from not-so-busy departments to handle the workload, ensuring seamless 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 customer enquiries, surfer absenteeism, or technical issues, can impact staffing needs. To handle these situations effectively, 

  • Create contingency plans and have a pool of on-call surfers who can step up during emergencies.
  • Adopt a shift-swapping policy to accommodate surfer preferences and unforeseen personal issues. 
  • Empower surfers 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 among workforce managers, team leaders, and surfers. Effective communication is crucial for disseminating critical information, addressing sudden changes, and managing surfer availability.

Utilise messaging platforms or workforce management tools that allow managers and surfers to exchange information promptly. Transparent communication helps surfers 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 surfers are more likely to handle customer enquiries 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 surfers’ 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 surfers and customers. Use performance data to identify trends and areas for improvement. Celebrate successes and acknowledge outstanding performance to boost surfer morale.

Feedback from surfers and 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 surfers, 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. Its top features include,

Workforce scheduling

Shift rotations

Shift pattern builder

Integrated forecasting

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 analyse if Surfboard fits your needs well.


What is the difference between intraday scheduling and daily scheduling?

Intraday scheduling:

  • Focuses on real-time adjustments and optimisation throughout the workday.
  • Allows for dynamic workforce management to address unforeseen events and fluctuations in demand.
  • Involves continuous monitoring of workforce metrics to make immediate staffing decisions.

Daily scheduling

  • Involves creating fixed schedules for employees in advance, typically covering longer periods (e.g., a week).
  • Offers less flexibility to adjust to immediate changes or unforeseen events during the workday.
  • Requires longer lead times for scheduling changes, which may not suit businesses with variable workloads.

Is intraday scheduling a good strategy?

Intraday forecasting call centre is a good strategy due to its dynamic and real-time nature, allowing for optimised workforce management and improved operational efficiency.

  • Intraday scheduling relies on real-time data and analytics, enabling informed decision-making based on accurate insights.
  • Enables businesses to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, unexpected events, and fluctuating demand throughout the workday.
  • Minimise overstaffing during slower periods and avoid understaffing during peak times, leading to cost savings.

How many hours do call centre employees work?

The number of hours calls centre employees work can vary based on several factors, including company policies, local labour laws, and the operational requirements of the call centre.

  • Full-time employment: Call centre employees on full-time contracts typically work around 35 to 40 hours per week.
  • Part-time employment: Some call centre employees work on part-time contracts, which may involve around 20 to 30 hours per week.
  • Shift work: Call centres often operate 24/7, requiring employees to work in rotating shifts. In such cases, employees might work different hours weekly or monthly.
  • Overtime: During busy periods or to cover staff shortages, call centre employees may work additional hours as overtime.

The specific working hours for call centre employees depend on the call centre’s operational needs and the employment terms offered by the company.

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

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