Here’s how you can survive a call center night shift

June 07, 2018

Over the last decade, globalization has turned traditional working hours upside down, and 24/7 customer service has become an essential part of many modern businesses. Due to this culture change, call centers agents are now typically expected to work during somewhat unusual hours and even sometimes taking night shifts at the call center. This is definitely tough but an inevitable part of this job which has its pros and cons.

If you’re lucky, you may be a “night owl” meaning that you are generally more productive during the night. If you are an “owl”, then night shifts may not be a big problem for you. But if you are a “morning person”, then the idea of night shifts can be a huge challenge.

But whether you’re a night owl or a morning person, one thing is for sure: if you work in the call center industry, chances are that you’ll be asked to work that dreaded call center night shift.

As we all know (and as a huge amount of research backs up), working during the night is a lot more demanding, and agents working call center night shifts need to make an extra effort to take care of their health and work-life balance, while at the same time staying productive at work.

But is there a way to make such a lifestyle more comfortable? Yes, there is. We compiled some handy tricks that will help you survive (and even thrive in) your call center night shift. Check them out and start to use them for your night shifts too

Adjust your schedule to the call center night shift schedule

Ideally, humans sleep during the night and are active during the day. Our brain is biologically wired to tell us to sleep at night, so when you’re working a call center night shift, you’re basically fighting against your body’s natural rhythm.

If you’re regularly required to take night shifts, the best advice we can give you is to try and adjust your sleeping cycle to a night shift schedule by creating a reversed sleep schedule.

For example, if you’re taking the night shift from 10 pm to 6 am, then try and sleep between 8 am and 4 pm. By doing this, you will establish a regular sleep schedule and consolidate your sleep periods.

Unfortunately, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to sleep during the day. The rest of society is up and about, busy with their daily activities. But, if you do have to sleep during the day, try and set a sleep schedule to take advantage of society’s more conventional work hours (9 am – 5 pm), and try and avoid late afternoon/early evenings. As people usually finish work around 5 pm and start to do (often noisy) activities at home, these times are the most difficult to get some rest.

Although it’s not easy to establish a reversed sleep cycle, there are certain tips that will definitely help: use earplugs and try to make your room as dark as possible by closing window curtains and turning off the lights. And here’s our secret tip: try and get to sleep as soon as you can after you finish your night shift – once you step out of the call center, avoid natural light if you can, and wear sunglasses until you get home. Try it, you will be surprised how it helps!

Stick to your new call center night shift schedule

It’s definitely not easy setting up a reversed sleep schedule. So, once you managed to adjust your sleep cycle to match your night shifts, the next hard thing is to try and stick to it. Although it may be tempting to meet friends or get your hair done during the day, make sure you organize these activities for the late afternoon, after having had enough sleep.  

Don’t forget, when you work a night shift and schedule an appointment for the middle of the next day, it’s as if the appointment, in reality, is actually in the middle of the night. So, never commit to daylight activities even if people expect you to – remember, you’re living a reversed lifestyle now.

The more you stick to your reversed schedule, the easier it will be for your body to adjust to your night shift lifestyle. On the other hand, if you do not keep up with these patterns, you’ll easily find yourself suffering from fatigue or even insomnia.

Develop daily rituals

Developing daily rituals can help your body get used to a reversed lifestyle. Try and create bedtime rituals, for example watching TV or reading a book, to signal to your brain that it’s time to go to bed. Once you get home from your call center night shift, make sure to only have a light meal before going to bed.

Similarly, develop morning rituals, such as having breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee immediately you wake up. It is always recommended to eat within an hour of waking up, and that is also true even if your wake-up time happens to be 4 pm in the afternoon due to your night shift.

Try and turn these patterns into a regular basis, so your body can get more easily used to your reversed lifestyle. You’ll see it will make all the difference.

Use life hacks to stay awake and productive

As we all know, call centers are about targets, targets, targets. So, let’s face it: regardless of whether you’re working the night shift or traditional daytime hours, you’ll be required to stay effective at all times during work.

So, if you’re working the call center night shift and want to excel at your job (and we trust that you do), then you’ll definitely need some life hacks to help you stay productive. Add these to some of the call center life hacks we talked about in our previous article, and you’re good to go.  

If your employer allows it, try and talk to someone at least a few times during your night shift. Take advantage of the open office, and go and have a short chat with one of your colleagues as it will help both of you stay more awake for the rest of the night.

Although coffee may be tempting, a recent study found that drinking water can increase your productivity by 14%. So, instead of drinking that third coffee, focus on consuming more water. If you’re hydrated, then you’ll be able to better focus on staying productive, especially during the night hours.

Finally, when you’re feeling extra sleepy during your call center night shift, give your body a break. Some light exercise or a short walk around the office or outside will definitely keep you awake, and also help to refresh your mind.

Eat (and drink) healthy

It may sound a cliché but concentrating on a healthy diet is a must for agents working the call center night shift.

In particular, don’t forget that it’s not easy to access food during the night. As a result, you may end up dropping by a fast food restaurant to grab some junk food, or even worse, just try to survive the night without eating. Both are definitely bad ideas! Instead, always make sure to prepare your own food for your call center night shift even if it requires some planning ahead.

As for caffeine, as we already mentioned, don’t drink yet another cup of coffee or extra strong black tea a few hours before your shift is over. Always bear in mind that consuming caffeine during the second half of your shift reduces your chance of getting a relaxing sleep once you get home.  

Although most agents struggle with working night shifts, as you can see, there are some tricks that can help you survive those dark nights. Make sure to follow our pro tips, and you too will be able to start improving your performance during your call center night shift.

Software can help

One of the cool things about call center software is that it can actually help your productivity and thus make surviving a night shift (or basically any shift) a lot less frustrating.

What we can mention here is a whole set of functionalities related to automation, including automatic call distribution and a clever use of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) for both outbound and inbound purposes. If the night shift includes outbound calling to another time zone, then features such as predictive dialing and voicemail detection will definitely become some of your best friends.

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