customer support

24/7 customer support solutions: follow the sun vs. graveyard shift models

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by   Mikayla Fuller
September 19, 2023

Providing round-the-clock support has become more than just a competitive advantage—it’s now a necessity. To meet after-hours customer demand, support teams have two workforce management options: the follow the sun model or the traditional graveyard shift.

At Influx, our global remote workforce spans four continents and 123+ cities. As a strategic approach to employee well-being, our entire team works remote using the follow the sun model. In fact, we’re designed to be 100% remote!

For some insight into the difference between the two models, and why we use follow the sun instead of the graveyard shift, we spoke with Gusthy, our Delivery Manager of 8+ years, to compare the two.

What is the follow the sun model?

The follow the sun model leverages the global distribution of teams to provide continuous support around the clock. Every time zone starts working while the sun is up and either finishes their work or passes it on to the next time zone before the sun sets.

This isn’t a lifestyle perk—it’s a strategic move. Operating under the remote banner allows us to cast a wider net for talent and tap into regions where skilled professionals may lack local opportunities.

What is the graveyard shift?

The graveyard shift is a work shift that occurs during the late hours of the night, usually starting at or around midnight and lasting until early morning.

Health consequences of working the graveyard shift

As our default policy, Influx does not allow anyone on our team to work the graveyard shift because of the health consequences associated with working those hours. Working the graveyard shift can be physically and mentally challenging because it goes against the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which are programmed to rest during nighttime hours.

According to research, potential health consequences of working the graveyard shift include:

  • Higher risk of certain types of cancer
  • Increased risk of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that raises the risks for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke)
  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Higher chances of obesity
  • Imbalance in hormone production 
  • 40% increased chance of depression or anxiety (Zippia)

In addition, working the night shift may take at least three days to recover from. Being exposed to light during hours of the day when your body expects it to be dark can suppress melatonin production, which means that during the day, you won’t get enough quality sleep for your body to repair itself.

Why choose follow the sun instead of the graveyard shift? 

The health consequences of working the graveyard shift are significant, but looking into the other benefits of the follow the sun model shows what a brighter, more sustainable choice it is.

1. Reduce agent attrition and retain better talent

Customer support has one of the highest attrition rates. According to OvationCXM, the call center industry in the United States faces an overall average turnover rate of 30-45%. When it’s already difficult to recruit and retain agents, businesses cannot afford to risk the inevitable attrition of graveyard shifts.

2. Roster a global operation, 24/7

The follow the sun model exemplifies the modern ethos of international collaboration and efficiency, transforming the way businesses operate on a global scale. While the graveyard shift might be effective in short bursts or in rotation, it isn’t sustainable or healthy for a long-term position.

3. Increase employee satisfaction and minimize burnout

The follow the sun model has less burnout and isolation because scheduling is consistent and predictable. Consequently, team members experience reduced stress and a more harmonious integration of professional and personal responsibilities. The result is a workforce that feels valued, supported, and energized.

4. Create a sustainable work-life balance

With the follow the sun model, employees can more effectively manage their time, fostering a sustainable work-life balance conducive to long-term well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. Instead of recovering from a late night shift, employees can spend free time with their family and friends, learn a new hobby, or focus on creating a fulfilling life. 

5. Give customers a higher-quality support experience

“When you’re drowsy, local parts of the brain shut down for milliseconds or seconds at a time, then come back online,” says Bryan Vila, PhD, a sleep expert and criminal justice researcher.

When agents feel their best, they can deliver a superior customer experience with friendlier, faster interactions. Ultimately, the follow the sun model allows top talent to deliver their best work and elevate the overall quality of service. 

6. Scale easier and faster

In today’s interconnected and fast-paced global landscape, the follow the sun model offers businesses an easier and faster path to scalability. Businesses can ensure work continues around the clock by strategically distributing tasks across international teams without exhausting employees. This accelerates the pace of work and taps into a diverse pool of talent and expertise, promoting innovation and adaptability.

Do different timezones pose a challenge to efficiency?

At Influx, our team spans four continents. Leveraging a range of digital communication tools and advanced technology, we’re able to bridge geographical gaps for seamless work across the globe. We minimize the barriers of time zones with tools to foster constant communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration in today’s interconnected world.

Sometimes, a bit of compromise is needed to meet with someone across the world. One person’s morning might be another person’s afternoon, but with real-time project management platforms and video conferencing solutions, we ensure that our global workforce stays connected and collaborative, no matter where they’re located.

Get 24/7 customer support anytime, anywhere

Influx builds full-service, fully-managed customer solutions for growing businesses everywhere. We provide consistent, high-quality customer service in a simple month-to-month format. Learn more about how it works.

About the author

Photo of Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla is an avid copywriter. If she’s not out on an adventure, you can find her somewhere with a book in hand.