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  • Writer's pictureDoug Casterton

The most commonly mixed up terms in Contact Centre WFM; Utilization vs Occupancy

You could be forgiven for believing that contact centers use the terms occupancy and Utilization interchangeably. However, these are two entirely different measurements.

Occupancy is often mixed up with "utilization".. Utilization considers total time at work, while Occupancy only considers the time when agents are productive. Utilization is the percentage of time an advisor is either assisting or available to assist with customer activity out of the time they are paid to be in the contact center. Let's dive a little deeper.


It is expressed as a percentage and shows the amount of time agents spend on call-related activity when logged in and expecting to take calls. Talk time, hold time, and wrap time is examples of "call-related activities." It is also known as "productive time."

Occupancy is the time that an agent is handling contacts divided by the total time that the agent is available for handling contacts.

Occupancy % = (Total Productive Staff Time – Avail Time x 100)/Total Productive Staff Time.

There is no best-practice benchmark for Occupancy. Instead, Occupancy is an outcome of Contact Volume size (the lower the volume, the lower the Occupancy is likely to be) and Staffing (the more overstaffed you are, the lower the Occupancy is expected to be).

Another thing to consider regarding Occupancy is that when it is too high, advisors are overburdened, and there is a risk of burn-out, which could lead to increased absence and, ultimately, attrition.


Utilization, like Occupancy, is calculated as a percentage. It contrasts with Occupancy in that Utilization shows the amount of time agents spend logged in, processing, and anticipating contacts while present in the contact center. In other words, it represents productivity-to-capacity ratio of agents. The more shrinkage a contact center has, examples being Training, team meetings, and impromptu breaks, the lower the Utilization will be

Utilisation % = (("Total Paid-Time" - In-Work Shrinkage Hours)/"Total Paid-Time")*100

It is essential to track this metric to ensure you're optimizing both business costs and the efficiency of your schedules.

Tracking utilization can provide helpful information about labor productivity and shrinkage and the time when agents are paid but are not accessible to handle customer interactions. Managers can then utilize this data to optimize schedules, boost productivity, and identify potential issues.

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