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For a detailed assessment of seating requirements for the near future we can take a look at the rotas you have developed for your call centre advisors.  If your call centre uses a workforce management system then this task is made even easier.

For every state that shows up in a rota, we can decide whether it will be “at desk” or “not at desk”.  Holidays, absence, and classroom training are all clearly “not at desk”, while time allocated for call-taking is very much “at desk”.  Rather than waste time logging on and off systems, advisors often remain logged on when they take paid breaks; as they are occupying a desk even while away from it, we label paid breaks as being “at desk”.  Every activity undertaken can be labelled up in this way.

Now, we can take the combined set of all rotas and count up the number of concurrent “at desk” activities to gain a profile of the number of desks likely to be in use at every hour of the day.

This method can be extended out as far into the future for which you have produced rotas.

For completeness, you would need to build in an allowance for unplanned absences and desks for first line management (unless they are to stand during peak occupancy times), but it is possible to get impressively accurate about desk occupancy using this method.

From time to time, operational managers claiming that they were “sure” to run out of desks because of some impending recruitment have challenged me.  I admit to some satisfaction in using the method described above to declare something along the lines of, “at the busiest half hour period next week there will still be 41 unoccupied seats in the call centre.”  A brief walk round at the appointed time soon confirms the analysis!

It should be remembered, though, that 100% occupancy is simply too high to aim for in many centres.  There are often genuine operational benefits to leaving some space around and if that leads to efficiency savings it can often be worth a little extra capital wastage.