Could Hyper-Flexible Scheduling Fill Your Contact Center Seats?

Mary Lou Joseph March 21, 2024

Low unemployment means potential employees have options. How can the contact center industry make the customer service representative role a more attractive position?  One way is to allow people to work remotely and have flexible, and I mean FLEXIBLE, schedules.

Contact centers are suffering from the lack of people.  Sixty-three percent of contact center leaders are facing staffing shortages. With attrition rates at upwards of 60 percent,1 there are always seats needing to be filled.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the contact center employs over 3 million customer service representatives, at any given time ~12% of those positions are open recs.2

One of the main reasons CC agents leave is poor work-life balance.

What if you could provide agents greater flexibility to make work fit their lives vs. their lives fit their work – while still meeting your business and service goals?

Did you know that two-in-five workers—about 40 percent of the total labor force—are parents with a child under age 18 at home, and one-in-nine (about 11 percent) has a young child under age five at home.3

Offering greater scheduling flexibility, especially to parents of young children, can greatly reduce attrition and absenteeism while increasing employee engagement.  Read on for real-life examples.

What if you could tap into a new pool of employees?

Did you know that nearly 24 million parents do not participate in the labor market?3 These parents often don’t work because of:

  • The cost of daycare
  • The cost of transportation
  • The need for flexibility in their schedules, sometimes on a daily basis

Enabling parents to work from home (WFH) greatly reduces the cost of daycare and transportation.

The ability of contact center agents to WFH was greatly accelerated by the pandemic.

“According to IDC research, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of contact center employees working remotely as dedicated remote agents was relatively low, estimated to be below 20 percent. That changed during the pandemic, with nearly 100 percent WFH. Today, WFH and hybrid are part of the fabric of the new contact center, accounting for as high as 60–80 percent of the workforce.”4

Now imagine offering remote, WFH positions and mini-shifts that can be adjusted on the fly to accommodate the needs of the agent and their family. What percent of this untapped workforce could you capture?

Providing Uber-Like Flexibility

For many parents a traditional eight-hour shift is not possible. Even a part-time, standard four-hour shift may not be possible. But two hours in the morning when little Johnny’s at preschool, and two hours at night after he’s been put to bed, is. A west coast dad could cover lunches and dinners for an east coast contact center. An east coast mom could cover dinner and early evening on the west coast after putting the kids to sleep.

I can hear you now saying, “All these mini-shifts and options would be a nightmare to manage.”

So, let’s try something new and put the power to change schedules into the hands of the employees.

The Verint TimeFlex Bot works with your existing workforce management (WFM) system to empower agents to make in-the-moment changes to their schedules while balancing the needs of your business and customers.

Building on Your WFM Model

In WFM, you build your forecasting and scheduling model, set up your shift rules and scheduling parameters, and then publish your schedule, which usually covers a two- to four-week time period. But we all know, “stuff” happens and within that scheduling period, things come up.

A parent needs to leave 30 minutes early for a teacher conference. Another parent has to start late so they can take their child to the doctor’s office, and so on. So how can you accommodate all these requests without overwhelming your workforce planners?

Gamifying Schedule Changes

With the Verint TimeFlex Bot, agents earn “FlexCoins” which they can use to make changes to their schedules without impacting service levels or the needs of the business. The TimeFlex Bot automatically calculates the impact of shift changes based on forecasted volumes, capacity, and performance for every 15-minute interval and assigns a “FlexCoin” value to each.

Employees earn FlexCoins when they make a change that is beneficial to the company, for example, when they choose to work an interval for which the company is understaffed. In the example below, by increasing a shift to help cover a period of understaffing, the agent can see they’ll earn 15 FlexCoins for making this change.  (Current balance is 35; new balance would be 50).

Employees can then spend those FlexCoins to make changes to their schedule that are better for them but are less beneficial to the company.  In the example below, the employee tests a change that is less beneficial to the business, so the system shows them it will cost them 24 FlexCoins if they make that change (from 35 FlexCoins to 11 FlexCoins).

The TimeFlex bot makes the calculations in real time, so as employees are making changes, the model stays current. And changes are not limited to modifying the beginning or end of a shift. An employee can split a shift or move a shift to a different day.

As long as employees maintain a positive FlexCoin balance and don’t change the total number of hours they are working, they can make any changes they want to align their schedules to the needs of their lives.

FlexCoin is how the TimeFlex Bot helps ensure that the sum of all the changes that the workforce makes adds up to a schedule that is as good or better than the one originally published by the workforce planning team.

Meeting the Needs of Parents

The TimeFlex Bot typically provides up to a 10x increase in roster flexibility by empowering agents to make changes to their shifts, in real time, without lengthy or restrictive approval processes. Here’s what managers and agents have said about it.

“What we’ve seen is that some people are making small changes that can make a big difference to their lives. For example, we had one person changing their shift by just 15 minutes so they could leave a bit earlier, which allowed them to beat the traffic and make it home in time for the after-school pickups and dinner.” – Contact center workforce planner

“As a mother of a child with ongoing medical needs, flexibility is everything to me. Her medical care, coupled with the needs of all my children, meant that prior to the TimeFlex Bot, I was absent from work a lot. The TimeFlex Bot empowered me to take control of my work time and I’m no longer torn between being there for my family or our customers.”  – Contact center agent

Reducing Attrition and Absenteeism

As the quote above illustrates, giving parents real-time flexibility reduces absenteeism.

In many cases it’s easier to just call out than it is to get approval for a schedule change using the historically manual process of submitting an email or voicemail request to a manager and waiting for the approval.

And being able to accommodate these changes gives agents the ability to better balance their work and home life, resulting in improved employee engagement and retention.

Companies deploying the Verint TimeFlex Bot have seen adoption skyrocket. Contact centers using the TimeFlex Bot are making more than 1,000 shift changes per month per 100 employees —without any negative impact on service or overburdening WFM managers.

One customer with a 2,000 agent contact center was grappling with an annual attrition rate of 36 percent and an average unplanned absence rate of 9.2 percent. At a $45,000 USD loaded cost and 10 percent replacement cost, they were spending an extra $11.5M USD annually in avoidable resource costs.

By giving agents the flexibility to modify their schedules with Verint TimeFlex Bot, the contact center was able to:

  • Reduce attrition by 12 percent, from 36 percent to 24 percent
  • Reduce unplanned absences by 24.1 percent

This resulted in annualized cost savings of $2.7M USD.

If your contact center is having trouble filling positions, try targeting young parents by showing them you have the flexibility to work with their schedules and constraints.  This demographic now has an option for an additional source of income, and you have a new source of grateful and productive contact center agents.

To learn more about how the Verint TimeFlex Bot works, watch the video, or visit


1 Recent Research Suggests That Something Has to Change in the Contact Center Space, Forbes, July 26, 2023

2 Employment Characteristics of Families, 2022, Bureau of Labor Statistics

3 Parents have returned to the workforce, but gains are uneven and challenges persist, Glassdoor, September 16, 2022

4 IDC, Enabling Agents With Technology for Productivity and Employee Experience, Doc # US50109523, December 29, 2023