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 Workforce Management Solutions

WFM

Workforce Management Software (often shortened to WFM) addresses a specific need within an organisation regarding the operational planning, deployment and management of staff. WFM is generally sandwiched between HR and Payroll solutions with integration to each other. However, whilst HR and Payroll are generally admin solutions, WFM focuses more on the operational needs of the organisation.

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WFM often incorporates several core modules

Time and Attendance:

This provides the ability to record the attendance of staff often in real-time through data collection devices (Card or Biometric) and calculates the time a colleague has been at work, any absences, lateness and overtime.

This information is then passed (via integration) to the payroll system avoiding the need to manually enter and calculate hours to pay. This automates much of the manual activity, removes payroll errors and ensures equal and fair treatment of staff.

From an operational perspective it ensures managers are alerted if staff do not turn up for work enabling them to find immediate cover. From a management perspective it provides managers with data on lateness and absence so that they can take appropriate and timely action.

Naturally, every organisation is different and operate different polices. An advanced Time and Attendance module can cope with different environments and policies. For instance, in an office environment, they may operate a Flexitime policy and want to track hours worked, TOIL and ensure the Flexitime rules are adhered to.

An organisation with seasonal peaks and troughs may implement Annualised Hours for staff and require the Time and Attendance to manage this specific policy. Not all Time and Attendance solutions provide this flexibility.

Rostering:

The ability to plan your staff resources effectively can often be challenging for managers particularly where there is a need for specific skills at particular times of the day/week.

Almost every workforce management solution provides rostering, but this can be limited to basic planning (Shifts). Advanced solutions such as HFX enable more detailed planning and provide the ability to plan where the staff are going to be deployed (location), their activity, Cost Centre, Department or Client and even cost the plan against a budget for that team/department/cost centre.

This enables managers to ensure the right people are at the right place with the right skills at the right time. From an operational perspective this ensures that the work is completed on time and to budget. From a financial perspective it enables the organisation to ensure that project/contract is profitable whilst reducing the cost of overtime.

Productivity:

For those organisations that are heavily task/contract focused, it is important to ensure that staff productivity is monitored to ensure the organisation is providing an efficient and profitable service.

Measuring productivity varies from organisation to organisation, but generally focuses on measuring the time and/or cost of completing an activity (e.g. “packing”) or outputs (e.g. “widgets made”). Advanced workforce management solutions provide technology that enable staff to “Book onto” a task/activity and/or the number of outputs generated within that time-frame.

This real-time information is used by Operation Managers to identify non-productive areas, investigate and implement plans to improve efficiency such as training, technology or process improvements. From a finance perspective, managers gain valuable insight into the costs of production, activities and overall in terms of fulfilling contracts.

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Additional Modules within Workforce Management

Often Time and Attendance solutions capture data via card or biometric devices. Many organisations see the benefit in using a single system to manage not just attendance but also access to the building and secure areas. The advantage of using one card (or storing one biometric template) is obvious and so some workforce management providers have an Access Control module to facilitate this.

Visitor Registration is also a logical extension to workforce management so that a single system can track all people within the organisation (full time, part time, contractors, visitors etc) for the purposes of security, health & safety and roll-call (in case of fire).

Some providers also have a Lone Worker module so that staff who are remote or visit customer sites can be tracked to ensure their safety and also enable remote attendance recording.

Those organisations with varying demands (over the period of a day or week) often want to optimise their shift patterns so that they align with business demand. This often yields significant savings by eliminating “dead time” (where staff are at work but have nothing to do) and overtime (where lack of planned resource to meet demand requires overtime or agency staff). Workforce Design solves this complex problem by ensuring that requirements are met whilst considering fatigue, risk, human factors and legal requirements.

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In conclusion, Workforce Management solutions enable organisations to become more efficient though effective planning, accurate recording, automation, decision support and analytics. However, few are able to meet the breadth and depth of functionality required to address all aspects of workforce management.

HFX provides a complete suite of next generation cloud workforce management solutions. 

For more information contact us

What are you really saying to your Visitors?

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If you query how many visitors an organisation receives each month you are more than likely to be presented with a list of statistics detailing hits to their website.

Often organisations know more about who visits their website than who visits their bricks and mortar building. Of course, both are important but, in the rush, to be “so very present” in the virtual world, organisations can’t neglect their “physical presence”, and the obligations and opportunities of visitors to their offices.

The lack of accurate recording does make statistical assessment of physical visitors to an organisation difficult to ascertain but depending on the type of organisation this can be 100% of their workforce over a year for organisations without a “front-of-house” function.

For most organisations these visitors will likely to comprise suppliers, customers, prospects, candidates, contractors and placements. In general, these are the very constituents you want to make a good impression – and first impressions often make the most impact. They may well have visited your website prior to their attendance if only for directions and may have picked up on your key messages peppered across your website.

Do you portray your organisation as “High Tech”, “Innovative”, “Efficient”, “Friendly”, “Modern”? When a visitor walks into your reception does it reflect these messages or completely contradict them?

If you focus on “innovation” and “technology” yet you present a pen and visitor book to your visitor, you immediately have a credibility issue before you have even met them. If you are left standing and waiting whilst you try and track down their host does this reflect your “efficient” message.

If they don’t receive a warm welcome and a beverage after potentially a long time travelling to visit you, what does that say about you as an organisation? Didn’t you invite them after all?

Many of us will have encountered these experiences as often we are both hosts and visitors, and often we can recall both the good and bad experiences we have had as visitors. That first contact, and experience matters not just to the visitor but also for the host.

If you are hosting a meeting with a prospect or customer, what frame of mind do you want them in when you kick of your meeting? What initial view do you want them to have of you as business partner or supplier?

All your visitors are potential critics or fans whether you classify them as prospects or not. They may never become a customer but may influence other organisations to become one as they share their experiences with others.

Just as your website is a “window” to your company, so is your reception. Its “first contact” and it matters. Most website designers now talk about “User Experience” – that’s great but what “user experience” do your first contact visitors receive at reception?

If you only care about the experience of remote/virtual visitors and ignore those physically in your building, then you are missing the point. You have an even greater chance of creating a positive experience when they are physically present.

Making a positive impact on first contact goes a long way to improve meetings with the host whilst also creating opportunities to promote your organisation and reinforce the key messages you promote on your website.

Whilst there is a good business case for treating your visitors well, there is also legal duty of care too. This duty of care is both expressed in criminal and civil law and extends to your visitors (in some cases even unwelcome ones). Just because they are not on your payroll does not remove your duty to care for them when they are on your premises.

It is not sufficient just to hand out a visitor book if they are not on the muster list and should there be a fire their presence (or lack of) should not be unaccounted for.

With the advent of workforce management systems with built in visitor registration and Access Control modules this is often a quick win and presents a professional and efficient image of the company to visitors. In many cases the system can document their car registration which makes car park management more efficient as well.

Auditing and Monitoring enable you to track visitors, who they are seeing and where they are located. This is also important in case there are any incidents within the building that need investigation (e.g. theft/access to unauthorised areas). With integrated Access Control you can ensure that visitors don’t stray into unauthorised or dangerous areas of your facility.

This helps balance the need to welcome and care for your visitors and the need to protect staff and your assets. In Summary, we should care (both legally and professionally) about the user experience our visitors have when they first contact us at reception.

Some tips for creating the right user experience;

  • There should be a warm welcome
  • Comfortable environment and seating.
  • An opportunity for refreshments.
  • Efficient and modern visitor registration.
  • Plenty of literature reflecting the services and products of your organisation (awards and certifications on display often reinforce the professionalism)
  • Prompt notification to the host (many visitor registration systems automatically email the host on arrival).
  • A little time. It might seem very efficient for the host to turn up immediately but in many cases – particularly after a long drive – the visitor may welcome 5 minutes to collect their thoughts over a coffee before jumping straight into a meeting. If so, then the visitor should be notified of this on arrival.

“Reception, just like its virtual companion the website, should treat every visitor as an opportunity to promote the organisation, its values, its strengths, its products and services and leave a lasting impression.”

Download Visitor Registration Product Sheet