The New World of Work Pt 2

money gold coins finance
Waiting for Payday

Waiting for payday has been a universal and shared experience around the globe for over a hundred years with almost everyone in paid work typically waiting between 1 to 4 weeks until they receive the rewards of their endeavours.

This concept was so ingrained within our working life that until recently it has rarely been questioned. The problem though, is that whilst workers wait up to a month to be paid for their work, the reverse is true for purchasing where consumers are mostly required to pay in advance or on delivery.

Personal budgeting is one way of bridging this divide, but for minimum wage employees, an unexpected car repair or appliance failure can easily torpedo your careful planning.

The economic meltdown in 2008 put further strain on the financial well-being of workers across the world and pushed many into the arms of the payday loan market which grew rapidly as a result.

Whilst its advocates promoted the loan as a means of bridging the gap between payday, the reality was the eye-watering interest rates simply compounded the problem and forced many workers further into debt.

However, today organisations are starting to re-evaluate how and when their employees are remunerated in the emerging New World of Work. Some companies such as Wagestream provide tools and services to enable employees to get access to a proportion of their salary before payday avoiding the need for them to rely on expensive short-term loans.

The New World of Work will continue to challenge and change the way we work and the often-heard response “Because this is how we’ve always done it”.

Read The New World of Work Part 1 here

The New World of Work: Part 1

fashion man vintage shoes
The Death of Suits

The office attire, colloquially referred to as being “suited and booted”, has been the default and often mandatory office uniform from as far back as the 19th Century. It gained a new life in the 1980’s with the concept of power dressing as a means of projecting authority and power but today, according to a survey by Travelodge, only 1 in 10 workers wear a suit to work.

This dramatic shift has less to do with fashion changes, rather a reflection on the changing attitudes to organisational structure and colleagues in the work environment.

Historically, you could often ascertain someone’s seniority by the clothes they wore, and this was often encouraged to distinguish management from employees. But this visual reinforcement of the hierarchical structure and decision making is outdated in the New World of Work.

Hierarchical structures functioned well in a world where change happened slowly, and decisions filtered down from the top. But today, change is happening fast, not just in terms of business models, but also in terms of technology and markets. Old hierarchical structures struggle to identify and adapt fast enough to remain relevant and competitive.

The trend is for Managers and CEO’s to be more embedded and collaborative with their teams to enable them to identify and guide the company through rapid changes.

Breaking down corporate barriers also means leaving behind the paraphernalia that divides and instead adopting behaviours and appearance that unites teams and helps foster open debate and discussion.

Unsurprisingly many CEO’s are ditching the suit and choosing Jeans and T-shirts to reflect a more open and approachable style. Breaking away from the office dress code makes a clear statement that the organisation embraces individual thought rather than uniform group-think.

 

Avoid Cloud Confusion

person covering face with blue wooden cloud wall decor
Avoid Cloud Confusion

The tech industry is famous for inventing jargon and terms that lack any clear definition which are then misused by marketing and ultimately mislead potential buyers into thinking they are getting something they are not.  The term “Cloud Solution” is a classic example.

Strictly speaking cloud solutions refer to any software (or service) that is provisioned via the Internet and does not require local infrastructure/install to consume it (typically access is via a web browser). However, this term is broad enough to hide a multitude of sins whilst not challenging any assumptions.

The public experience of cloud solutions is numerous including applications like google, amazon, banking and other consumer retail applications. These applications reflect a specific instance of “cloud solutions” and are based on modern internet design principles including;

  1. Internet By Design: These applications are built for the internet age with an architecture that can scale and more importantly scale over multiple servers that can be increased with demand ensuring users do not experience lag.
  2. Resilient Architecture: Because the application is designed to run on multiple servers there is inbuilt redundancy which reduces unexpected downtime.
  3. Future Proofed: These applications are automatically updated/upgraded with fixes and features without users having to request or pay for the update. This ensures that users are always working on the most bug free and updated version and ensures they never fall into legacy.

This all seems straightforward and many would be forgiven for thinking that all cloud applications follow these design patterns. However, many cloud-based solutions do not, and we therefore need to differentiate between “True Cloud” and those that just run the application in the “Cloud”. The main two “Cloud” variants which are often mistaken for “True Cloud” are;

  1. Hosted Applications: This is where a traditional legacy Fat Client application is hosted in a data centre and users’ access the application via Terminal Services or Citrix. Whilst it is true to say that nothing needs to be installed locally (other than Terminal Services/Citrix) the reality is you are simply accessing an old product through a new way. The application isn’t multi-tenanted, it doesn’t scale, and each instance needs to be individually upgraded/updated. Its an old product on a new server with Citrix.
  2. Web User Interface: Another tactic often deployed by business is to rewrite the user interface so that users can access the functionality through a web browser. Whilst it provides a modern feel and avoids the need for costly Citrix/Terminal Services, the reality behind the scenes is much the same as with a standard hosted application though this is hidden from the user until things go wrong. In the industry this is referred to as “lipstick on a pig

Why Not True Cloud?

Given the disadvantages to both the vendor and the customer of using a “cloud enabled legacy solution” it does beg the question why businesses would not invest in developing Cloud Designed Solutions. The answer is that many businesses have invested significantly in Fat Client/Server solutions for many years (Some from as early as 1995) and do not want to incur the cost required to start from scratch.

The more functionality they add into their old product the more reluctant (and expensive) they are to invest in a new product. It is akin to refusing to buy a new car because you have spent so much money repairing the old one.

HFX is True Cloud

Within Workforce Management, HFX is one of the few exceptions. In 2013, HFX secured significant investment to build a true cloud solution from the ground up. We recruited developers with 15+ years’ experience developing web solutions AND with a strong background in Workforce Management to ensure the solution was “True Cloud” AND ready for the New World of Work.

To find out what a True Cloud Workforce Management Solution looks like contact us

 

The Value of Simplify

“The height of sophistication is simplicity”
Clare Boothe Luce

simple

Whilst HFX has many values, our core value is SIMPLIFY. We believe this core value drives change and provides tangible benefits to all our customers. We apply this approach to all that we do and place our customers at the heart of the process.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
 Steve Jobs

By applying this value to software development, our team have created a powerful workforce management solution that reduces customer configuration time by over 80%. The result is that OUR customers pay significantly less for implementation, and due to faster implementation times, realise savings much quicker than with other providers.

The benefits don’t end there; because we design our solutions for customers and not for ourselves, we empower customers to take complete ownership of the system including the ability to manage the rules themselves. This not only reduces costs but enables customers to adapt the solution as they change and grow.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
Hans Hofmann

Our approach to simplification also applies to our user interface. Where most software companies provide a single interface for managers and employees, we focus on providing the right user interface for each cohort (Role Based UI Design). Whilst managers are often IT literate and require a powerful user interface to carry out their daily tasks, there is a clear advantage in providing a simplified interface for everyone else.

By providing a user interface that is intuitive and simple, our customers significantly reduce training costs whilst ensuring that there is high user adoption and fewer user errors. Our Employee Self Service UI Design is based on the principles and ease of use that Cash Machines provide; No-one ever needed training on how to use a cash machine and this is also true of ours.

The benefits of simplification go further still. By simplifying the user interface, support calls reduce dramatically. For HFX, this means we have more time to devote to our customers who contact us for more complex queries; this is why we regularly receive 100% AWESOME customer ratings on our Customer Services.

“Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.”
 Martin H. Fischer

Our approach to integration with other software solutions including HR, Payroll and ERP takes a similar approach. HFX provides RapiD interface configuration that does all the heavy lifting, translation and transformation enabling third party integration to be achieved effortlessly. By handling the complex processes within the application, we simplify the integration to third parties and even enable our customers to leverage the API so that they can integrate directly.

“Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”
 Edward R. Tufte

We have also applied our core value to other aspects of our business including the approach to Marketing. Our new website (www.hfx.co.uk) embodies our core value and mission. We designed the website with our audience in mind rather than being slaves to google search ranking algorithms.

We removed all the clutter and present the key information we think our potential customers want to know. There are no cookies, no pop-up ads, no annoying call-outs and no information overload. We want our customers to view the information they want quickly whilst having a fun and positive experience at the same time.

What my kids taught me about Productivity

What my kids taught me about productivity

Firstly, I confess I made a mistake; we needed to write letters to just under half our customer base (650) before Christmas. This was part of our commitment to inform customers of new developments within our group.

We chose a letter (snail-mail) as these days email is more likely to hit the spam than get into the hands of the people you want to reach. My mistake was haste; Had I taken the time, I would have saved about 10-20% of the cost (about £60) by using a 3rd party.

However, I decided to do the mail merge and post in-house and was faced with the task of folding 650 letters and putting them into envelopes. My solution was to invite my children (I have 4 ranging from 8 to 13) to complete this task rather than burden my colleagues.

I calculated that it would take about 5 seconds per envelope and offered my children 5p per item. I was at first sceptical that at such young age they would grasp the potential prize (£32.50) if they completed whole project.

Initially I invited my youngest daughter Arabelle and her older brother Blake to the challenge. Enthusiastically they got to task immediately and within 5 minutes my oldest son joined the party.

Arabelle, independently came to the revelation that it was more efficient to fold all the letters first and then put them into the envelopes after, rather than switch tasks for each letter. She is only 8 years old yet came up with a way to optimise the task and improve her productivity.

Zach and Blake took this further by copying the idea and teaming up together (they agreed to share the rewards equally). They recognised the benefit of collaborating.

Halfway through my other son Jed turned up (he would normally spurn such an opportunity) but was inspired by the enthusiasm of his brothers and sister. He immediately joined the team. Arabelle being generous of heart agreed to team up with him and share the rewards even though she had already done a large amount of the work. She determined that she would fold whilst Jed would put in the envelope (another smart move) thereby focusing each on a specific task.

Naturally given it was now a competition and a limited number of opportunities (650), there was a pressure to cut corners and so I introduced a quality control process; The address needed to be fully visible in the window of the envelope. If it failed that test, then the envelope (and reward) would be handed to the other team for rework. From that point on quality control was embedded in the team and any queries were flagged up to me immediately (I took on the role of Quality Control Officer).

I was literally taken back by how quickly a group of kids could organise themselves, collaborate, optimise their activities and improve productivity without any direction.

With UK productivity still anaemic, there are some powerful lessons we can all learn from this;

  1. If you want productivity improvements, ask those who are doing the task – they know far more than you.
  2. Create a culture that encourages rather than frustrates the innate potential in people to improve efficiency.
  3. Improvements in productivity can be achieved very quickly if there is focus and incentives.
  4. Ensure quality control is embedded in the process not simply at the end.
  5. Measure and track the entire process to ensure continuous learning.
  6. Never underestimate the contribution of women in the workplace; my youngest daughter came up with the majority of productivity improvements. It is no surprise that the Mckinsey report identified that organisations with 30% or more female executives, are on average 15% more profitable (For more info watch our COO, Nicola Smart interviewed by the Telegraph Business Reporter)

For those interested in statistics

Arabelle and Jed achieved 259 with a failure rate of 0.77% (e.g. 2 that failed QC)

Zach and Blake achieved 311 with a failure rate of 1.93% (e.g. 6 that failed QC)

The failure rate was significantly below the industry average for manual processes.

Finally, the reason for the discrepancy (570 completed vs 650 letters) was down to management failure (me) to provide enough envelopes (I guess the final lesson here is to always invest in planning)

To find out more about hfx visit our main website or contact us

Hfx re-invents the website

hfx welcome to our website2

In 2017, hfx realised that it needed a new website, one which reflected our values, our innovation and our commitment to delivering solutions for the New World of Work.

Nicola Smart (COO, hfx) recalls “Early on we decided that the website should provide visitors with a positive and immersive experience that provided clear and concise information. Too many websites bombard and overwhelm you with pointless information and noise”.

12 months later and hfx releases a completely new design of website, different in almost every respect to traditional websites;

  • No annoying banners asking you to accept cookies. We decided early on that we wouldn’t be “stalking” our visitors and therefore have no need for tracking cookies. If visitors want to contact us, they know where we are.
  • No visitor badgering or callouts to nag the visitor into contacting us. We believe you either want to contact us or you don’t. No amount of badgering is going to make you change your mind – indeed in some cases the annoyance of callouts is enough to make you leave.
  • No bombarding you with information you didn’t ask for. Your time is precious, so we simplify and summarise information into key points. If you need more information you have the option to download a pdf or visit our microsite (www.hfxworkforce.com)
  • No email grabbing. We don’t require your email before you can download documents. The only time we will ask for your email is if you want to contact us via our contact form.
  • No Scroll to Infinity. So many websites insist on the “long scroll” – which is intended to take the visitor on a journey ending up with a call to action. The journey, of course, is predefined and makes to many assumptions about the visitor. Users often end up getting lost, frustrated or confused by having to scroll through the irrelevant to find the relevant. There is a need to simplify and we have achieved that eliminating almost all scrolling.

Naturally, when you buck the trend and go against the rules of website design, it’s never going to be easy.

There are no templates or previous designs to base yours on and you are battling preconceived ideas of how a marketing website should be designed. It had to be conceived and built from the ground up.

A new menu structure and navigation system was designed, redesigned and after that several more times to accommodate the vision we had for the website.

There are also trade-offs to be made; Google search and SEO friendly http://www.hfx.co.uk is not. Nor is it particularly mobile friendly. We also accepted that for many the new site would be like “marmite”; visitors would either love it or hate it, but at least it wouldn’t be another bland corporate design.

Let us know what you think of hfx.co.uk

Introducing A New Integration Paradigm

black and white blank challenge connect

Einstein stated that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” and for hfx this has become a mantra and even our core values are expressed by one word: simplify.

We follow this principle both in terms of our processes, methodology and vigorously within our cloud solution design and development.  The first challenge we tackled with Time and Attendance was the complexity of reflecting real world work rules within a simple and easy configuration that end users could quickly master and enable them to take complete ownership of the solution. The result was amazing; implementation time reduced from 9 months to 1 month enabling the customer to achieve accelerated ROI and significantly reduced costs of configuration and implementation.

This success gave us confidence to tackle the next challenge which was more nuanced but no less radical; solving the thorny issue of integration using Application Programming Interfaces.  As a group of seasoned developers with over 30 years’ experience of integration (and a combined list of over 250 interfaces developed under our belt) we looked at the fundamental issues with integration. We recognised that the issue had little to do with coding ability, language but everything to with mindset.

At a high level we recognise three key mindsets that pervaded all interface development characterised “The Solicitor Mindset”, “Pedantic Officialdom” and “S.E.P or Someone Else’s Problem” – Our analysis revealed all 3 mindsets in all 3rd party integrations we had ever seen and worked with historically. Each requires a little explanation to see how they manifest;

The Solicitors Mindset:

If you have ever had dealings with a solicitor (whether when buying/selling a house, Non-Disclosure Agreement etc) you will instantly recognise the legalise, Latin and jargon that seems to confuse rather than clearly communicate its purpose. Any attempt to simplify the text is met with a firm response by the solicitor that “Its not meant for you but for another solicitor”. This is a lazy excuse to avoid clarity and simplicity by relying on someone else with 7 years legal training to decipher text that could and should have been presented in a way that a lay person could understand. This same mindset influences the development of API’s with the argument being that the P stands for programming so there is no need to simplify the API as its not meant for anyone other than another programmer.

Pedantic Officialdom:

We’ve all had this when asked to fill out a form to change some information. Often you must enter the very same information they already hold and then when you hand it in you are told you’ve used the wrong form (often they have different forms to register new information versus amend existing information). When you fill in the correct form (which is almost identical to the other form) you are then told you must use blank ink rather than the blue or that your signature isn’t fully in the box provided (which is often too small) – I could go on, but you get the point. This very same approach is often applied to Application Interfaces. As with Pedantic Officialdom the whole purpose isn’t to make life easy for the consumer (or 3rd party) but a lazy approach to make it easier for the recipient.

Someone Else’s Problem:

Incapsulating and extending on both the previous mindsets is the overarching view that it is someone else’s problem to decipher and to comply with these pedantic and overly cumbersome rules. This approach to integration enables API’s to be created very quickly but the consequence is that they are dumb, brittle and difficult to work with and significantly increases the effort by the third party.

 A New Paradigm:

Overcoming these issues isn’t a question of technology, coding skills or even language, its harder than that because it requires a paradigm shift in thinking about the whole approach to integration.

However, as with all challenges we were confident with the right approach we could completely turn integration on its head to simplify work for 3rd parties and especially to our customers.

The first design principle we applied was that the API shouldn’t be developed for another developer, it should be developed so that a competent IT professional or implementer could consume the interface.  This principle ensures that we don’t make assumptions about who will be consuming the interface and a good test to ensure that the interface is a simple as possible (but no simpler).

The second design principle is that the API should be intelligent and not pedantic in terms of the calls into the API (for instance demanding a different call to add information versus amending information or refusing data based on lazy or pedantic rules).  If the new data requires the creation of associated or dependent information the API can automatically create this on the fly rather than simply failing. This simplifies the work for 3rd parties whilst reducing both manual entry and lazy rejection of data.

The third design principle was that the API should be easy to configure, so that if requirements change (e.g. some information previously sent IS no longer required) the API can ignore the data without the need for changes by the 3rd party. This ensures that the interface is flexible, and our solution can adapt to changes in data without the need for either the 3rd party or the interface to change. It builds in flexibility.

These 3 guiding principles enable a paradigm shift and focus all the intelligent development work within our solution making it simple to integrate from a 3rd party perspective. It turns integration on its head by making “integration our problem” rather than “Some Else’s Problem” and this changes the mindset with the result that issues are tackled and eliminated from the get go.

This approach rapidly increases integration time, reduces the need for testing and 3rd party development work. It also means that with a simplified approach to web services we can easily integrate legacy/on-premise third party products even if they are csv based using our rapid scripts that convert these into web service calls.

The Future of HR

man with steel artificial arm sitting in front of white table

In a future where many jobs will be lost to automation the question arises as to both the future of the workforce and the need for traditional departments such as HR.

The reality though is that whilst automation will encroach further and further into the workplace removing swathes of jobs and assisting with others, AI for all its hype, has its limits.

To understand where the watermark rests is not quite so simple, but there are guiding principles. Machines are capable of processing huge amounts of data instantly and identifying patterns, trends and correlations. This provides enormous benefit to decision makers who can leverage this data to make informed decisions.

However, decision making at a high level is often the result of considering not just one data point however well evidenced, but many and from different disciplines. Computers often can do one thing very well and fast but can rarely assess the bigger picture.

Neural Networks are capable of learning, but again this is often domain focused. We will see in future the rise of self-driving cars and literally billions of pounds are being spent each year to make this a reality. Whilst there is a high degree of confidence that this huge investment will succeed, the code behind it won’t be able to diagnose cancer in a patient.

Humans are never born to drive or diagnose a patient but have the unique ability to learn completely new and unrelated skills. Given the rapidly changing world and technology, this is a good thing, and it is ironical that whilst we are rapidly adapting to new technology, technology itself is not very good at adapting.

So, what does this all mean for the workplace, the new world of work and HR? Computers and AI will be focused on “narrow field” activities and tasks, those that require speed, accuracy and analysing big data. On the other hand, humans adapt rapidly, have holistic and “outside the box” thinking, multi-disciplinary knowledge and creativity.

Whilst HR contains a lot of administrative tasks which can be automated, there is much that cannot. HR requires a whole range of diverse knowledge and insight from understanding the Law to the values and culture of the organisation, from the needs and objectives of both company and staff to respecting union rules and the wider culture of society in which it operates.

HR acts not just to re-enforce polices and values, but also a change maker within the organisation. In fact, to do HR well, you need to understand that you are working with human beings; A statement so obvious it is often missed when discussing how a computer (with no sense of self, empathy or deep understanding) could replace people in role that requires deep interaction with others.

Computers can learn but learning without context can be at best a disaster, and at worst, catastrophic. For example, Microsoft took down Tay, an AI Chatbot on twitter only 16 hours after launch because – through learning – had started tweet offensive and racist comments. It had no moral compass or understanding of the wider culture to recognise that there is good learning and bad learning.

Imagine you are driving your car 60 mph when a child crosses the road in-front of you. There is no time for you to break without hitting the child, so you can either swerve the car up onto a pavement and hit a wall (with the potential you will incur life changing injuries) or kill the child. This is not hypothetical but a real moral and legal dilemma for the manufacturers of self-driving cars. Is their legal responsibility to the owner of the car or to other road-users? There is no legal requirement for a driver to risk or sacrifice their life to save another. Supposing the car is programmed to risk your life rather than kill the pedestrian, but now the person running across the road is a terrorist with a gun whom you are trying to stop with your car.

You might think this is going off-topic, but having a moral perspective, values and a big picture view are all important for the right decisions to be made every day.

Even the best AI lacks these things and for those who believe these issues will be sorted in the future, the answer is that we might not need to wait after all. Many in the AI field believe these kinds of issues can only be solved if AI moves to a biological architecture (rather than digital), that it requires consciousness, self-awareness and intentionality. If correct, then these attributes already exist in what we currently call humans.

T & A: What is it?

At HFX Time and Attendance is what we do. We’ve all heard our HR teams talk about T&A (Time & Attendance) but what is it?

T&A What is it?

What are Time and Attendance systems?

Time and Attendance systems (known as T&A) are the systems that used by companies and HR teams to track and monitor when employees start and stop work and record any absences in order to reflect the relevant adjustments in the employees’ payroll. More complex Time and Attendance systems will include additional features such as Rostering, and Visitor Registration.

Why are they important?

Companies that have Time and Attendance systems can monitor their employees’ working hours as well as any late arrivals or early departures. Employers are also able to see the amount of time taken on breaks as well as levels of absenteeism.

Employees also often like to have a system recording what they are really working as this provides complete transparency for their bosses and the HR department and creates a fairer working environment.

One key element of Time and Attendance is its integration with roll call and providing a Muster report. In the event of a fire alarm evacuation, the Time and Attendance system is able to provide a print out of all the employees on site, enabling an up to date count ensuring everyone is out of the building.

The benefit to businesses

There are many benefits that business can experience following the implementation of a Time and Attendance system these include:

  • Integration with the payroll system thereby avoiding manual input removes errors and ensures an accurate and timely payroll
  • Can be used to ensure compliance with labour regulations regarding proof of attendance
  • Provide employees with structure – once implemented, employees will know exactly when they must turn up by and when they are able to leave, with lateness and good timekeepers being able to be recognised with trackable data, eliminating any disputes regarding if employees were on time or not.
  • Holiday planning – depending on the Time and Attendance system in place, requested holidays can be recorded enabling management to plan around them in advance
  • Lightens administrative workloads – a Time and Attendance system eliminates the need for manual clocking-in cards. Therefore, there is no longer the need for HR employees to spend hours poring over figures and manually inputting the times as the data is collected automatically when employees clock in/out. The result is a more streamlined, error free process.  
  • Ensure regulatory compliance – if your organisation must adhere to industry specific regulations and ensure GDPR, Time and Attendance systems are able to be configured to organisations’ requirements creating alerts against any compliance issues while aiding with current GDPR compliance.

Ultimately implementing a Time and Attendance system allows businesses to control labour costs, reduce over payments that are caused by paying employees for time that they are not working, and eliminates the human error associated with the manual input of employee’s time.

Traditional Manual Systems…and Excel

Traditional manual systems involved paper cards which have times stamped on them using a time stamping machine. Due to the design of these paper time cards, HR were still required to input the times in which employees worked and as a result, errors could be made with the misinterpretation or wrong input of data.

While times have moved on and technology is ever present in the workplace, the manual input of employees’ times still occurs, only now with everyone’s friend Microsoft excel. Although Excel can rule out errors of mis-calculated time worked for payroll. It does not rule out the potential of inputting incorrect information.

Automated systems that can capture and collect such data which is then fed straight into payroll with an interface are able to remove the possibility of these errors occurring.

Automated systems

As technology has developed, so have the ways in which organisations can capture and collect their employees’ working hours. 

Modern time and attendance systems require employees to touch or swipe in order to identify themselves and record their working hours as they enter or leave the work area.

While swipe cards are still common in many businesses and offer multiple uses, options for bio-metric (hand reader, fingerprint, vein reader or facial recognition) and touch screen devices have continued to enter the market, providing different options to best suit the organisation’s needs.

HFX

At HFX Time and Attendance is what we do and what we specialise in, the reason why we have become market leaders.

Founded over 45 years ago and with over 1,500 customers, HFX has a proven history of developing innovative time management solutions. The latest generation of Saas Cloud solutions are highly customisable and can be configured to meet exact requirements, can support unlimited numbers of work patterns and provide seamless integration with all major HR and payroll systems.

Our solution comprises Time & Attendance, Rostering, Flexitime, Workforce Optimisation, Budgeting & Costing, Job & Task Booking, Access control and Visitors’ Registration and fits organisations of all sizes and sectors including manufacturing, public sector, services industry, leisure, construction, retail, contract cleaning, recruitment, logistics and hospitality.

HFX Devices

We provided a range of devices from Card, RFID or Fob readers through to finger print readers and hand recognition or even mobile apps and QR codes, in order to provide our customers with the best option for them and their needs.

HFX Devices

To find out more about our solutions contacts us at sale@hfx.co.uk or drop us a call on 03333447872

What is Legacy Software?

We’ve all heard the term legacy software , but who knows what it really means?

Legacy Software: What is it?

Legacy Software simply put is the generalised term used for ‘old outdated software and systems that are still in use’.

It doesn’t mean the software wasn’t good in its day, just that it no longer meets the needs of users today. Windows 95 was revolutionary when it was first released in 1995 but now almost 25 years later the same software and operating system no longer meets the needs of the 21st century computing.

At HFX we happen to know a thing or two about legacy software in the workforce management sector, we’ve developed a few over the last 45 years! It’s for that reason we know the importance of updating systems to ensure businesses can meet all their needs and requirements.

Many of us adapt and adopt the latest technology that makes our lives easier, but in business and around our workplaces it can often be a very different story. You may have come to work using your smart phone, but clock in/out using a solution that predated even the first smart phone on the market. Although in many cases legacy software still works, the chances of it meeting the needs of your business today to the same level as when it was first released is slim.

As with many things in society changes happen, from the size of business, to locations and objectives. Businesses continue to evolve and grow both in size and goals. Here at HFX we continue to evolve and grow as a company with the introduction of new rules and regulations such as GDPR – that is the nature of business.

From small companies to large, it is undeniable that all will struggle at some point with legacy systems, even e-commerce Boohoo came out in 2018 stating they still struggle with legacy systems.

While legacy software is the safe option as its been tried and tested for many years in the business, there are many issues that legacy software may be unable to address. From being unable to meet the evolving requirements of the business, to ECJ rulings and GDPR compliance to the user interface; the gap between what the solution can provide, and the requirements needed change each year. It still does what was required of it 10 or 20 years ago, it just can’t handle the evolving requirements that were never considered at the time.

However, the biggest challenge facing legacy software is that of cost. With legacy software becoming increasingly out dated and no longer in production or receiving regular updates, the cost and time involved to maintain the systems will continue to increase. Increasing to the point where it no longer becomes cost effective or feasible to maintain and inevitably faults occur and the system can crash or have serious downtime. Upgrading systems then becomes a top priority in order to meet the business needs.

At HFX, when we talk about legacy software, we look back fondly at our past developments and technological advancements of a time from Wintime to etarmis and not to our current and most advanced system yet: Imperago. As a fully SaaS Cloud solution, Imperago offers users the ability to choose a range of modules to fit their specific needs, from T&A through to Rostering and Access Control, as well as providing the ability to fully integrate with all the leading HR solutions. With a cloud-based system using remote servers, updates to software any support can be provided without engineers having to be onsite.

Change is hard, change is difficult, the server in the back office has always been there, but it’s not quite the same as it once was, the dust is thick, maintenance is costly and although it’s still going it can’t quite keep up. It’s time to move on and away from the on-premise T&A systems. It’s time to leave the legacy software behind with a salute for all that it has done and the foundations it laid for all that has come since and all that is still to come.

Legacy Software, we salute you.

HFX continues to reinforce its position as a leader in workforce management solutions in Logistics and Distribution

Two new business wins signed in quick succession at DX Networks and Dormole Limited

HFX, the market leading provider of Cloud Workforce Management Solutions, has signed two new clients, Dormole and DX Networks in quick succession, as its market share in Logistics and Distribution goes from strength to strength. These contracts continue HFX’s strong performance in 2019, after a record first quarter where the company closed nearly £1m in new business.

Dormole Limited has a range of subsidiaries that specialize in distribution to the retail and merchant trades; Toolbank – tools and associated products; BIZ Power Tools – power tools and accessories; Olympia Tools – European distributor for the Roughneck brand of hand tools and workwear; and Forgefix – fasteners and fixings. Dormole has selected HFX’s Time and Attendance, 3D Rostering with Budgeting and Costing and a door access control system with integration to one of the UK’s leading HR and payroll providers

DX Network Services, the parcels delivery specialist for the legal profession and passport office which has over 4000 employees across 70 UK sites, selected secure biometric fingerprint terminals to manage access control as part of the HFX’s integrated Time and Attendance solution.

Nicola Smart, COO at HFX commented: “HFX solutions are designed for use by organisations that have a diverse workforce spread across many sites, on the move or working remotely. Our solutions enable companies to plan their workforces, developing staff friendly shifts and rosters, tracking who is where and when, so that wages can be paid accurately and in a timely manner, while providing duty of care, and protecting lone workers. Our products are uniquely suitable for the business challenges faced by the distribution and logistics industries where keeping an agile and engaged workforce makes all the difference to staff productivity, customer service, and at the end of the day, profitability.”

HFX’s workforce management solutions include time and attendance, rostering, shift planning, flexitime management, access control, clocking both via wall/door mounted devices and via PC/laptop/mobile app, all of which are already integrated with all major HR and payroll solutions. HFX is a sponsor of the Lone Worker Safety Expo, being held at No. 11 Cavendish Square – The King’s Fund, on 15 October, 2019.  For more details visit: http://www.loneworkersafetyexpo.com/#about

The Shuttlebay Project Pt. 1

@theshuttlebay

If you haven’t already seen or heard about our Shuttlebay project, where have you been. In the first instalment of our Shuttlebay series we take a look at where the idea came from.

In late 2018, hfx was outgrowing its office, and needed a larger building to accommodate our colleagues. But we also wanted to create something unique for our visitors, a reception area that reflected our vision of a New World of Work and showcase our technology and the amazing skills of our colleagues.

We’d written about the impression visitors often get when they visit a company for the first time (read https://hfxworkforce.com/2018/06/27/what-are-you-really-saying-to-your-visitors/) and we wanted our visitors to have a memorable and positive experience. We’ve always done things a bit differently (see our website www.hfx.co.uk) and we wanted our physical presence to be similarly, well different.

Initially it was going to have a modern feel with functional tech, that is until one of our colleagues suggested – perhaps half in jest – that we should have swooshing doors just like the ones in the popular Sci-Fi franchise Star Trek. That comment literally overturned months of previous design work and began our Shuttlebay project.

Some suggested we just record some noise and play it with electric doors, but that would be cheating. We resolved to do the real thing, pneumatic powered sliding doors…Not something we had done before, but then just like the franchise, we needed to boldly go where no-one (well mostly) has gone before… and so began our 12-month mission.

As of September 2019, our Shuttlebay project is heading towards the final stages of construction with the second set of doors being hung as this is being typed while progress on the operational and cosmetic elements of the Shuttlebay continue to progress towards the finish line. To keep updated with the all the progress while also being one of the first to see the finished product when the time comes follow across our socials on @theshuttlebay

A Guide to ECJ Ruling

Tracking employees  – the key to meeting workforce regulations

ECJ rules EU employers must track working time

The ECJ Ruling – what it means for the UK workplace

The recent ECJ ruling[i] states that all workers have a right to limit their working hours and to take adequate rest. The ruling also recommends that the only way to ensure that these rights are met is for employers to accurately record hours worked, including overtime.

This EU Working Time Directive (WTD) is more stringent than the UK Working Time Regulations (WTR). In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces the requirements of the WTR[ii]

Nevertheless, Regulation 9 of the WTR requires a UK employer to keep “records which are adequate” to show whether weekly working time limits and the time limits on night working are being complied with.

An employer’s responsibility – duty of care

While this is a recent ruling, it has always been the case that employers have a duty of care to employees. Indeed, a lack of time recording can open up employers to claims if an employee has come to harm, either with an accident or ill health, as a result of working excessive hours.

Many companies find that accurate recording of hours can also improve staff wellbeing and morale, by ensuring that they are compensated for time worked by monitoring absences and holidays and time off in lieu (TOIL).

Accurate recording of working hours also brings business benefits

Workforce management technology has become a key tool to help organisations record and manage staff working time. Time and Attendance (T&A) systems used to be a way of managing hours for traditional workforces – for factories, retail outlets and the public sector. Today a T&A system can provide real time visibility of the entire workforce attendance and location anytime, anywhere.

With integrated HR systems, an accurate recording of hours can help to:

  • provide accurate HR data – provide essential data for HR, whether payroll, sickness or holiday leave taken
  • support legislation compliance –  such as health and safety risks for lone-workers or machinery operation
  • ensure fairness and transparency – enable staff working hours to be managed equitably, improving morale
  • improve efficiency and productivity – by creating shift patterns that marry up staff skills, expertise and choice with the needs of the business
  • provide insights into employee working habits – and the true productivity of the organisation.

New cloud-based T&A solutions available today can offer additional flexibility. They enable companies to provide staff with a remote login facility – and to add or take off staff as numbers go up or down, according to demand. Cloud technology also ensures no costly IT overheads, hardware or software upgrade maintenance and they provide the benefit of extra security with hosted data.

Meeting working legislation – ways to manage staff hours

Workforce Management solutions help organisations to manage three key areas of workforce attendance:

  • Time and Attendance
  • Access Control
  • Rostering

These systems can also now become integral to HR and workforce planning to support key business decisions. They can provide the foundations to help companies better manage labour costs, productivity and ensure employee wellbeing – and provide a healthy return on investment.

Time & Attendance

Every organisation is different and may need to monitor working hours to support flexible working hours and Time off in Lieu (TOIL). Or they may have annualised hours contracts, to meet seasonal peaks and troughs, which require close tracking to ensure they meet working legislation.

A Time and Attendance system enables a company to record staff attendance, often in real-time by collecting data in a number of ways. They range from the traditional clock on the wall that uses cards, tokens or biometrics, to apps that employees can download to their mobile devices, online apps, even dialling in by telephone.

The data provides an accurate record of staff working hours, including absences, lateness and overtime. A T&A system provides a transparent and equitable way to record hours and ensures that staff are accurately paid in a timely manner. By providing a fairer way to manage habitually late arrivals or those who take longer lunch breaks, it can also help with employee morale.

As well as providing managers with data on attendance to comply with legislation and wellbeing, from an operational perspective it ensures managers are alerted if staff do not turn up, so that cover can be arranged. Integrating the attendance data with payroll software ensures automatic and accurate overtime calculations. This not only reduces administration, but also builds trust and confidence in staff that they are being fairly compensated.

Key benefits of an HFX T&A system

  • enforces compliance to employment regulations
  • ensures accurate attendance data and automated timesheets to populate payroll
  • provides real time data collection and instant views of staff whereabouts
  • reduces absence, time theft and overtime
  • helps manage multi-site operation, even worldwide
  • improves efficiency and reduces labour costs
  • enables efficient management reporting
  • reduces administration and increases productivity.

A cloud solution delivers flexibility and is cost-efficient

A fully hosted cloud T&A system is fast to implement, with no waiting for a lengthy software implementation project. It is easy for staff to use and there are no costly server upgrades and ongoing maintenance costs required.  Integration with existing third party HR and Payroll systems means that data can be easily shared, avoiding re-keying, saving time and potential errors,

Access Control

Many organisations can also benefit from a single system to manage attendance and access to their building and secure areas. Today’s Access Control systems do more than just control access to a company’s premises. They provide a wealth of information about a building or area occupancy data, for example, which parts of a building or site that are being used, and when. This is useful to:

  • secure areas and staff, for example, hazardous areas or offices where sensitive information is kept (important for GDPR data security)
  • help monitor and ensure lone worker safety and maintain accurate records
  • manage building heating and lighting use efficiently.

A new addition to physical proximity cards and coded access for clocking in is biometric access control, which provides a more secure means of authentication. PIN numbers can be shared and fobs or cards lost or stolen, whereas a biometric device with a fingerprint is truly secure. The access data provides real time details of which members of staff are in and where.

Again, a cloud solution, such as HFX Imperago, provides additional security benefits. Information is stored in the cloud as well as locally, so even if the network fails, doors will still operate. Security is maintained and should the worse happen, data can still be accessed.

Rostering

Workforce management systems can help to ensure that schedules address working time compliance issues, as well meet staff requirements based on demand for services. Rostering ensures that staff attendance is planned and within working legislation – and that work is completed on time and to budget.

3D Rostering for a multi-dimensional view of the workforce

Almost every workforce management solution provides rostering, but this can be limited to basic shift planning. While traditional T&A systems focused purely on recording time to pay, now with Access Control they form next generation systems that enable organisations to gain a multi-dimension view of staff activity.

This includes not just when they worked, but where they carried out their work, what activities were completed and for which client or customer. This multi-dimensional view enables organisations to identify where the costs are going and optimise their plans and workforce accordingly.

Summary

HFX Imperago 3D rostering takes it a step further by enabling staff to plan not just staff time, but also location, activity, client (and any other important attribute). Costing and budgeting can also be associated with each roster or shift, providing managers with the hard facts when deciding to approval extra overtime, for example. With T&A and Access Control systems seamlessly working together, organisations can Plan-Record-Optimise in a continuous feedback loop until real efficiencies are truly gained.Summary

Workforce Management solutions offer flexible ways to support the operational deployment and management of staff hours, ensuring compliance with working legislation. Today, T&A, Access Control and Roster systems have become integral to HR and workforce planning to support key business decisions. They can provide the foundations to help companies better manage labour costs, productivity and ensure employee wellbeing. They can also provide a healthy return on investment.

For over forty years HFX workforce management solutions have been used by many private and public sector organisations to manage working hours transparently and equitably, on site or remotely, improving productivity and employee wellbeing. Many organisations are already realising the benefits of managing their workforce with T&A and effective, proactive rostering, supported by the right technology to make it happen. It’s all about time.

About HFX

Founded over 45 years ago and with over 1,500 customers, HFX has a proven history of developing innovative time management solutions. The latest generation of Saas Cloud solutions are highly customisable and can be configured to meet exact requirements, support unlimited numbers of work patterns and provide seamless integration with all major HR and payroll systems.

HFX works with organisations of all sizes and sectors including manufacturing, public sector, services industry, leisure, construction, retail, contract cleaning, recruitment, logistics and hospitality.

For more information about the HFX Group, please visit www.hfx.co.uk


[i] The Court of Justice of the European Union [Directive 89/391] https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/j_6/en/

[ii] http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/workingtimedirective.htm

Steroid Returns on Investments

With over 1,500 customers you’d expect us to hear some rather extraordinary stories and you’d be right. In our 45+ year history we’ve heard many stories about the antics that companies have uncovered through our Time and Attendance solutions. In our #ItCouldNotHappenHere series we cover our “favourites” – one in each post.

Steroid Returns on Investments

A Time & Attendance system will pay for itself within 12 months although six months is more likely in our experience, and in some cases as quick as six weeks.

Our favourite is a depot where all overtime was eliminated instantly. How? Well previously no-one at the isolated depot turned up to work Monday to Friday, with the supervisor (who was in on the game) reporting a backlog of workload and the need for the team to work weekends (on overtime of course). With the implementation of Biometric Time & Attendance the game was over and normal working resumed and costs plummeted.

The Phantom Menace

With over 1,500 customers you’d expect us to hear some rather extraordinary stories and you’d be right. In our 45+ year history we’ve heard many stories about the antics that companies have uncovered through our Time and Attendance solutions. In our #ItCouldNotHappenHere series we cover our “favourites” – one in each post.

Ever wondered where George was? Well until a Time & Attendance system was installed no-one had cause to question him. He was never late, never sick and rarely – if ever- took holidays. In fact, he was an exemplary employee, bar for the one simple fact that George didn’t exist despite receiving a regular salary! In a large business, with so many employees, it’s hard enough to track the real ones, let alone the ghosts unless you have a Time & Attendance system. Then the ghosts mysteriously do a vanishing act…

To find out more contact us

For more information on Time and Attendance download our pdf