Occupancy Rate vs Utilization Rate: What’s the Difference?

Call Center | 3 minute read

All folks new to the contact center world have many steep learning curves to overcome—a big one is picking up on industry jargon. From CSat score to Average Handle Time to First Call Resolution Rate, there are plenty of new terminologies that come with working at a contact center. Occupancy Rate is one of those terms a new employee may be unfamiliar with, and it’s important. And the difference between occupancy rate vs utilization rate is critical to your contact center’s success.

Occupancy vs Utilization

Occupancy Rate is the percentage of time agents spend handling customer inquiries versus time spent waiting for calls, sometimes called idle time. One fact that we find mysterious about Occupancy Rate is that it’s often incorrectly referred to as Utilization Rate.

We’re here to break down this myth and demonstrate the difference between Occupancy Rate and Utilization Rate, so you can use both key performance indicators (KPIs) to benefit your contact center.

Understanding Occupancy Rate

Newbies to the contact center might already associate Occupancy Rate with hospitality or hotels. In that case, numbers like daily rate, rooms occupied, length of stays, and the total number of rooms would be important. When it comes to the contact center, determining occupancy rate is another ball game.

Occupancy Rate is the most common way to measure the business of call center agents when they’re dealing with customers. For example, if your call center had an Occupancy Rate of 90% yesterday, your agents were handling customer inquiries for an average of 54-minutes every hour.

Call Center Occupancy is calculated as a percentage using this formula:

Occupancy = Total Handle Time / (Total Handle Time + Available Time)

Total Handle Time (THT)—The time agents spend completing an interaction with a customer. That includes every second hold time, customer engagement time, After Call Work (ACW), and any call-related activities.

Available Time (AT)—The amount of time an agent could theoretically work. Many contact center systems will report AT for an agent, which counts when an agent was logged-in but not on a call.


For a more detailed breakdown of this calculation, check out our post How to Calculate Occupancy Rate in a Call Center.

The Ins and Outs of Utilization Rate

Like Occupancy Rate, the Utilization Rate calculates the amount of time an agent spends on their work. However, Utilization Rate considers extra bits and bobs your agents do throughout their days, including customer interactions. Utilization Rate will help you determine the total time your agents are logged in, assisting customers, and available to assist customers but doing other things. Some tasks to keep in mind are:

  • Training sessions
  • Coaching one-on-ones
  • Team meetings
  • Interviews
  • Unplanned breaks and trips to the washroom
  • Social event-planning

The formula to find the Utilization Rate is quite similar to the Occupancy Rate formula:

Utilization = Total Logged-In Time / Total Shift Time

Total Logged-in Time—The time agents spend completing an interaction with a customer, including ACW, and the amount of time they are either working on other tasks or otherwise available to help customers.

Total Shift Time—The full amount of time an agent was scheduled to work.

Will Knowing These Stats Benefit My Contact Center?

Yes, very much so! For example, Occupancy Rates can help predict agent burnout and satisfaction at work.

In the industry, it’s widely understood that an Occupancy Rate above 85% is not sustainable over long periods — it means only 9-minutes of non-call time in any given hour. If the Occupancy Rate stays moderate, it’s a good sign that your agents’ workdays are well-balanced.

An overwhelmed agent is not a happy agent. When any employee experiences burnout at work, their performance suffers. They’re likely to call in sick more often, impacting customer service levels. Eventually, agents will quit.


Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs is a great way to help agents catch their breath throughout the day.

On the other hand, your Utilization Rate can help you gain insights into your spending because it measures how efficiently your staff is spending their time throughout the day.

The Executive Guide to Improving 6 Call Center Metrics

The executive guide to improving 6 call center metrics
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The Executive Guide to Improving 6 Call Center Metrics

Download Now