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Choosing the right time and attendance system is often a detailed and exhaustive process for many organisations, however, often the selection of the key means of data entry (clocking and access devices) receives much less attention and often the choice offered by any one vendor is limited. However, this is a critical aspect of the overall solution; without it the system cannot provide any of the benefits and ROI that it was procured to achieve.
Indeed, the main issue we find when consulting for companies is that the data collection devices do not meet the needs of the organisation. Often the issue isn’t that the device does not work, rather it doesn’t meet the specific needs of the organisation. The needs can be divided into 5 categories:
- High Trust vs Low Trust
Each organisation has its own “trust-level” which whilst not formalised has developed over time and in response to any abuses (perceived or actual) that the organisation has identified. Within Time and Attendance, these tend to centre on “Buddy Punching” where a colleague clocks in/out on behalf of an absent employee and “Time Theft” where overtime hours are “inflated” and lateness is under-reported or “deflated”. The type of device selected needs to address the trust-level requirements of the organisation.
|High Trust Data Collection||Low Trust Data Collection|
|Self Service (e.g. via web)||Biometric Devices (Finger/Hand/Palm/Face/Iris)|
|PIN||Mobile Applications with Geotracking|
2. Limited vs Extensive Functionality
When investing in data collection devices for Time & Attendance, there are two errors that can be made in selection: The first is “tunnel vision” where significant sums are invested in “single purpose” devices when they could have improved productivity and communication through “multi-functional” devices that can capture more data and provide information and self-service functionality to staff. The opposite is also true where organisations over-reach in purchasing much more expensive devices that can do everything, but in reality, the requirements are limited. Each organisation is different and should consider whether the additional functionality will be beneficial to the organisation – some of the main areas to consider are listed below:
|Task/Productivity Recording||Productivity Improvements|
|Job Tracking||Recharging and/or costing improvements|
|Access Control||Restrict access to sensitive physical locations|
|Self Service||Reduction in queries to HR/Payroll|
|Temperature Checks||Infection control.|
|Communication||e.g. vacant shifts, overtime requests|
3. Hostile vs Neutral Environments
Another aspect of device selection relates to the physical environment where the devices will be located. The device may look great but if it is a factory with high dust/oil and rough treatment by staff then it will not last or worse will not function at all. Similarly, in food manufacturing environments where washdowns are common, an IP rated device is a must. A simplified guide of the types of devices for each environment is listed below:
|Hostile Environments||Neutral Environments|
|Ruggedized casing (Robust Environment)||Finger|
|IP Rated (Washdowns/outside building)||Face|
|Hand Readers (Dirty, Dusty, Oil)||Card|
|Proximity Readers (contactless)||Palm|
4. Low vs High Hygiene
Hygiene has always been critical for many industries (e.g. Food Manufacturing) but is now being more widely considered due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Even before this, it is best practice – and cost effective – to consider infection control within any business (Each year Flu costs UK organisations £1.35 billion due to 7.6 million). Some devices are more prone to infection spread than others.
|Low Hygiene||High Hygiene|
5. Local vs Remote
Companies also need to consider whether their staff are working remotely as this impacts on data collection choices. By remote this maybe working from home, at a client location, in a construction site or remote office that isn’t connected to the internet. Another consideration is whether the device will be connected to local software or cloud software.
|Lan based units||Telecheck|
|Self Service||Mobile Application|
|Local PCs||Device with 3G enablement|
|Device with “outbound” data transfer|
|Mobile-battery backed units|
The right device is often the result of combining and prioritising the choices in response to each of the 5 areas detailed above. There are always trade-offs to be made during the selection process, but the wrong choice can seriously impact both the successful adoption of the solution and the value derived. It is also not a “one size fit” all approach. Within many organisations there are different cohorts (e.g. office staff, manufacturing staff, logistics) and environments, each with specific requirements that differ from other environments and cohorts, so a “mix and match” approach may well be appropriate in these situations. Again, with each solution, it is important to consider costs, benefits, GDPR and practicality in deciding on a specific device.
There is a huge range of devices on the market, with new ones appearing each month. Biometric devices alone encompass Fingerprint, Finger Vein, Face, Hand, Iris and Palm. There also over 100 different types of card formats available and often not all are supported by a single device manufacturer.
The challenge though is a) selecting the right device and b) the lack of choice offered by many time and attendance/workforce management providers.
A similar challenge was solved many years ago within the IT market with regard to Printers. Organisations wanted to be able to choose their printer independently of the software (e.g. Word processor) they used. Their requirements differed between departments; for instance, marketing would need a high-quality colour laser printer, finance might want a fast monotone laser and home workers could function perfectly well with an inkjet solution. They wanted to mix and match and avoid being “locked in” by the software provider. The solution was a “printer driver” that provided middleware between the software and the hardware.
HFX have taken a similar approach with EveryOneCloud which provides middleware between any device and any software solution. It currently integrates with hundreds of devices (increasing each month) and enables organisations to mix and match their devices across their different environments and cohorts. It also means that customers are not locked into a specific software or hardware vendor and can change either one without impacting on the other. This smart approach enables organisations to be agile and adaptive.
The EveryOneCloud solution does not simply provide integration, but manages the devices, error management, secure template propagation as well as provides asset location and tracking. The solution can also enrich or transform data on demand to provide additional information in real-time.
Customers can also take advantage of the HFX Hardware Deployment and Support Service to both install and maintain the device estate through our UK wide engineering teams.
Support and Maintenance Services
If you currently have a finger, hand or swipe card reader then changing to touch free options will be your top priority now in order to ensure maximum hygiene in your organisation.
We can get you up and running with new TOUCH FREE readers in one day.
HFX has developed advanced integration capability to connect instantly to any modern device. This means we can easily integrate to your existing Time & Attendance system and devices at zero or minimal cost.
HFX has been a market leader in Time & Attendance, Flexitime and Rostering systems for nearly 50 years and has over 1,500 customers of all sizes spread over all sectors.
Our solution is 100% SaaS Cloud and has been designed for quick implementation to give immediate benefits and cost savings.
We offer several options for purchase, rental and financing of the clocking devices.
Top 5 Customer Requests during Coronatimes
Here at HFX we are proud to have a strong engagement with our 1,500 customers and we receive regular requests for additional functionality to help them leverage even more benefit from our suite of Cloud solutions.
During “Coronatimes” these customer requests have very much focused on a) helping the organisation manage the workforce during lockdown and b) help them prepare for the return of staff whilst keeping colleagues safe.
We’ve collated the top 5 requests which we have already delivered to customers or are in an advanced stage of production:
- Touch free devices
Managing hygiene and reducing physical “touch points” is a key focus for many of our customers. This remains the number one request and we responded by delivering contacless face recognition devices as an alternative to traditional hand or finger based devices. For those customers with card-based devices we have updated our HexOne device to make it fully touch free. So, whether customers require card or biometrics, we can provide both touch-free basis.
Those organisations who have had to rapidly manage remote working, wanted the ability for colleagues to not only record time, but also specify a configurable set of reasons and/or locations (e.g. whether they were “home working”, “Self Isolating”, “Recovering”, “Volunteering”) to enable the organisation to better serve and manage their workforce.
This along with time management is proving invaluable as we see work patterns vary radically especially those with children who are looking to either compress or extend their working week depending on individual circumstances.
3. Enforced Distancing Mode
With rules around social distancing being required even at work, the question posed by customers was how do we enforce this with employees queuing to clock in at the device?
The solution we came up with is an update to our HexOne device that enforces a countdown for x seconds after each employee has swiped. This removes any incentive for employees to tailgate their colleagues clocking in/out.
4. Temperature Testing
We suspect this requirement will rapidly climb to number 2 over the coming weeks. The question posed was “How can we identify any symptomatic colleagues at the earliest opportunity to mitigate risks of transmission”.
Our latest “touchless” time and attendance device incorporates temperature testing and alerting. Both the individual and manager are notified so that appropriate action can be taken (isolation, track and trace etc).
5. Track & Trace and Monitoring
At number 5 are actually two joint requests; one which enables organisations to identify any colleagues who might have come into contact with an affected colleague (e.g at a clocking device) and secondly for those customers without our HexOne device (see number 3,) the ability to monitor that distancing is being adhered to by colleagues at non HexOne clocking devices.
What is most interesting about the list is the ingenuity and determination of our customers and business in general to overcome what might appear to be insurmountable challenges, the ability to embrace change and find innovative solutions to enable us all to get back to work.
Whilst we should not underestimate the challenges ahead, neither should we underestimate the tenacity and ingenuity of British business.
Post Covid-19: Here’s Why Flexible Working is here to stay
With the UK lockdown and closure of schools, the government have in effect mandated not just working from home, but for many parents flexi-time; the ability to vary the times you perform your work. It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, in this case it is the adoption of a system of work that has been in existence for over 4 decades but hitherto only adopted by forward looking organisations.
But with the government forcing a lockdown, organisations have been scrabbling to implement systems and processes to enable their staff to effectively work from home. Again, these enabling systems, whether video conferencing or workforce management tools, have been around for years and help manage remote and flexi-time colleagues but until now have not been top of the IT or HR agenda.
Covid-19 has done more to accelerate adoption in 3 weeks than all the HR and IT directors have achieved in the past decade. This is the force of change metered out by this now infamous viral foe.
The question of course, is when Covid-19 is finally defeated (potentially 12+ months away), whether everything will simply return to normal or even if it should. I suggest that when it comes to flexi-time and home working, it neither will nor should.
The rapid move to home-working and flexi-time due to Covid-19 has meant that most of us are now living and seeing the reality of home working. Firstly, the IT systems required to support these workers have now – albeit through necessity – been put in place. Secondly, the fears and myths about the effect on culture and productivity are starting to be dispelled and staff are rapidly learning their way around the “new” technology that supports working with remote teams.
The rapid investment in this new way of working, and its successes will give leaders a good reason to continue to leverage the investment they have made. Or to put it another way, why would you tear down what you have built up if it provides flexibility, business continuity, increased productivity and financial benefits?
These benefits are not just for the employer of course (cost savings on building, rent, rates) but also for the employees (train/car/travel costs) along with significant savings on time (traveling to/from the office).
There are more personal and psychological drivers too, in a world where our control over our own lives has been – albeit temporarily – suspended (holidays or even just going out), it is likely that everyone will want to be more in control of their lives once we emerge from this lockdown.
Of course, employers must set policies and deploy the workforce in order to meet their objectives and serve their customers, but within that there is scope to provide more flexibility to employees as to where and when they fulfil those objectives. The “But we’ve always done it this way” boiler plate response won’t wash when colleagues can point to what was achieved the “new way” during lockdown.
Finally, I suspect that with the positive impact home working has had on the climate and congestion, the government will also be keen to incentivise this new way of working.
Ultimately, leaders need to consider the lockdown as an opportunity to embrace the new world of work and take advantage of the benefits it can bring to their organisation long after coronavirus is defeated. Many businesses will be challenged for some time to come and they need every advantage they can to thrive and prosper as the world emerges not just from a health crisis, but also an economic one.
HFX Cloud suite includes Imperago™ Time and Attendance, Rostering, Home Worker, Flexitime, Access Control, Workforce Design, Annualised Hours, Attendance Monitoring/Location Management, Visitor Registration.
HFX Imperago solutions provide seamless integration with major HR and payroll systems. Highly customisable, HFX Imperago solutions can be configured to meet exact requirements and can support unlimited numbers of work patterns.
HFX has been the leading provider of Time & Attendance and Flexitime solutions in the UK for over 45 years and has over 1400 customers across the Commercial and Public Sector.