Answers: What is the minimum number of staff required for a 24-hour call centre?

Do you get confused when calculating how many staff you need in a call centre, which is open 24 7?

Below, we present advice sent in by our readers, on how to schedule shifts.


I would like to check on what is the minimum number of staff required for a 24-hour call centre with 2 staff per shift?

And what should the ideal hours be like? (based on a 40-hour work week)
E.g. 7am-4pm, 3pm-12midnight, 11pm-8am, etc.

Also, how do we plan for/handle scheduled annual leaves and unplanned sick leave or urgent leave?


Answer 1:

Absolute bare minimum would be 4.2 FTE on paper if you wanted to stick to no more than 40 hours per week.

24×7 = 168 hours per week to be covered. 168/40 = 4.2 FTE

Bear in mind that with a staff of 5, that only leaves 32 hours per week available for vacation/sick coverage but it can be done.

Answer thanks to Chris.

Answer 2: 

We are running 24*7 9hrs shift Call Centre  with 19 desks and 40 agents want to manage shift and Week off.

Answer thanks to Ahmed Shaikh.

Answer 3: 
Simplest way for me is to base it on there being 14 shifts each week and each staff member works 3 shifts per week so you need 5 staff to cover 15 shifts roughly.

Answer thanks to Nel.

Answer 4:

Minimum number of staff…use 12 hour shifts. You only need 4 teams so in theory you only need 4 people to cover 24×7. If you use a 8 hour shift you need minimum of 6 teams so you need at least 6 people.

Answer thanks to Rob. 

Answer 5: 

First of all the question is; how busy is your call centre going to be, if it is going to busy, mean every agent receives a call after 2 minutes then you will need 40 Agents to work day shifts 07h00am –16h00, 08h00 – 17h00, 09h00 – 18h00.

Then Night shift you can have 15 – 20 Agentsand schedule then accordingly. All in all you will need 60 Agents.

Answer thanks to Filita Macdonald.

Answer 6:

No research, however some experience with both 10 hour vs 8 hour shifts revealed regardless of shift length, productivity drops off after 6 hours….so why would I pay for 4 hours of non-productivity vs 2? 8 hour shifts also allows for more days of coverage rather than more unproductive hours in one day.

Answer thanks to Louise. 

Answer 7: Use and Erlang Caclulator

There is no real solution for mapping out the call arival pattern across the week. Once you have added in the call arrival patterns you can use an Excel Spreadsheet with and Erlang C Calculator to calculate the number of agents required in your contact centre.

Answer thanks to Jonty. 

Published On: 20th Aug 2008 - Last modified: 27th Oct 2017
Read more about - Call Centre Answers,

  1. We have our agents work an 8 hour shift with a paid half hour lunch. This allows us to break the 24 hours into 8 hour shifts (8-4, 12-8, 4-12, 12-8).

    Bob Hannon 28 Aug at 8:02 pm
  2. The minimum number should not be less than 15 and should not exceed more than 50,as its just 2 staff people available.
    If less than 15 the cost to run would increase and if more than 50 no prfit would be gained.For further details reach me at

    navdeep kashyap 28 Aug at 9:40 pm
  3. The rule of thumb always used to be that to staff one position 24/7, you would need 5.4 FTE.

    This allows for holiday and sickness cover. This would equate to a minimum of 11 agents to cover two 24 hour positions and assuming that you have some degree of fexibility for overtime. It does not provide easy cover for break periods.

    Many companies run 8 hour shifts runing 8 am – 4pm , 4pm – midnight and midnight – 8 am.

    jonty pearce 29 Aug at 4:46 pm
  4. it depends on call volumes and after call/admin work.

    Ben 30 Oct at 12:36 pm
  5. Have you ever heard of Erlang calculator? This works out the FTE needed by the volume of expected calls, target service level, average call lenght, speed to answer and target abandoned rate. Erlang will give you the minimum number needed to achieved this. the only requirement is an understanding; historical or forecast of expected call volumes.

    Beverley Cragie 30 Oct at 4:23 pm
  6. Is there any research regarding the 4 day 10 hour work week for call center employees the work by regions?

    Angie Blair 6 Dec at 7:27 pm
  7. I would like to check on what is the minimum number of staff required for a 19-hour call centre with 20 staff per shift for 8 hrs and 12 staff per shift of 11 hrs?

    Also, how do we plan for/handle scheduled annual leaves and unplanned sick leave or urgent leave?

    sai 14 Jun at 3:12 pm
  8. I agree with Ben, it depends.

    Hubi 24 Aug at 9:27 pm
  9. Hi there,

    Is there any formula to find the manpower requirement for 3 Shift duty roster for (8+1[Break]) Hour duty, (8+1[Break]+1[OT]) Hour duty and (8+1[Break]+2[OT]) Hour Duty. Please reply.

    and finally how to make their rost Plan in Excel Chart with formula.

    Omar Sharif 16 Jan at 2:41 am
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