How many times have you finished off the last bite of your lunch and wished that there was either more food, or you had more time to spend?
For people in support, the emotional implications of our work can carry through even when we are not on the clock—for some of us, that may show up as checking our phones right before bed for CSAT scores, for others, it may be overthinking how we could have made a support interaction better while finishing up the last scraps of leftover macaroni and cheese.
The question is: how can we protect ourselves against that?
Sure, you can put your phone in a locked box when you’re not on the clock, but realistically you’ll still be thinking about it. One way to start breaking that cycle is to give yourself enough time to step out of your support shoes and back into your regular life. The way that I choose to do this, and would recommend you try, is by using a split shift.
A split shift is when you work a few hours (usually around half of your shift) in the morning time, take a long lunch break, and then return later in the afternoon or evening to finish your work.
Sounds like a pretty simple concept, right? That’s because it is!
People that work retail schedules or varied shifts have been practicing split-shifts for years, but it’s just starting to see a resurgence in the tech world in tandem with the rise of remote work.
While it may sound good to you, you might question how to get your company to see the value in something like this. Taking a long break sounds awesome, but will it really add any additional benefits for your support organization? Luckily, split shifts offer a ton of boosts to emotional health and productivity; especially in the realm of support.
Everyone has had an interaction with a customer that left them feeling less-than-energized. While these are often the exception rather than the rule, they can certainly throw a wrench in our gears. On a regular schedule, these interactions can cause a butterfly effect throughout the rest of your day, and may even change the way you interact with your peers.
Taking a split shift and allowing yourself the time you need to step away from the problem can be just what you need to reset the rest of your day.
Sarah, the Director of the Kayako support team (who works split shifts) also finds benefits to managing her remote team using this schedule on her 24/5 team:
“I have a bad habit of being online and accessible to my team from the moment I wake up, until I put down my phone to sleep. Working a split shift gives my brain a quick break in the middle of the day to recharge and get back to it refreshed.”
Sound familiar? Maybe trying a split shift is for you.
Split shifts give you better coverage
Many companies are trying to make the switch to global support, but getting or hiring for extra coverage can be tricky. Split shift work gives you the benefit of being able to work a larger (albeit spread out) chunk of time.
My example of split shifts on my current schedule has me starting work earlier than any of my US colleagues that work regular 9-5 schedules, and ending later than them as well.
The usefulness of this is two-fold:
- we can catch trouble or outages earlier than they might have been detected otherwise
- cover any lunches or breaks that my European counterparts might need.
This also skews me into working both some West Coast and European hours, which can be useful if someone is out sick.
As a manager, this benefits you by being able to spend time with teams in different time zones when prior to that you might have been set to one specific zone.
Instead of taking time outside of regular work hours, shift your schedule so that at least an hour of your time spreads across each of your zones. Even if you have employees as widespread as Europe and Australia, you will be able to spend a bit of time with each of them every day that your team operates.
So much time for activities
As a manager, having better coverage with people spread out across shifts, and time zones means that your customers may get a quicker response—especially if you have specific support representatives that are responsible for multilingual support.
As an employee, feeling more emotionally buoyant allows you to provide a better and even more personalized experience for each customer that you communicate with.
But, further than that, what you choose to do on your break, whether it be napping, meditating, exercising or just eating can make an even larger impact on how the rest of your day goes.
Why not use your added time to practice mindfulness and better your support interactions?
For example, according to a study done by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, practicing meditation can make a huge difference in how you engage with your coworkers and customers, but also how much stress you feel.
Less stress makes for more natural, comfortable interactions with your customers—imagine having a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon when you’ve got nothing else to do in comparison to how you’d chat with them if you were running late for a dinner party?
The same premise goes for how you talk with your customers under similar pressures.
Or, just take a time out, and get a quick bit of shut-eye to rejuvinate
If you’re more of a napper, taking a nap can improve your memory and make you move even more quickly once you get back to work. In their post on how naps affect your brain, Buffer posits that along with the myriad physical health benefits that napping offers, napping can improve recall and boost your memory. Having trouble remembering where you put that link you wanted to send to the customer? We’ve all been there, but maybe a nap could have helped.
Unleash the power of a split shift
While all of these things may sound like they’d make an improvement to your organization or personal life, it might not be as easy as just telling your team that you want to start splitting your shifts.
Armed with the evidence above and a plan for how you can enact on the benefits of a split shift, you’re one step closer to creating more mental and emotional space to provide even better support.