Resource planning during Coronatimes

The most common challenge for almost every organisation during these “coronatimes” is demand forecasting and resource planning.

Almost every business is effected with some reporting increased demand for their services or product whilst many reporting significant drops in orders.

To add more pressure, the coronavirus is likely to create unprecedented absences of up to 20% of your workforce.

So businesses are having to plan and model the potential for significant fluctuations in demand and the potential that 20% of their workforce will not be available for work.

This requires a significant amount of modelling and analysis. Just creating one model can take as long as a week to produce, but with such uncertainty around the impact of coronavirus there is a need for many models with differing assumptions. As the picture becomes clearer these models need updating based on revised assumptions and estimates.

Planning for the future has never been so precarious and now more than ever is the need for instant analysis, modelling and assessments.  


Two frequent questions are;

What if my business suffers a 30% reduction in orders? How many staff would I need, what shift patterns would they work to cover gaps in delivery?

What if 20% of my staff were off sick at any one time? What shift patterns make the most of the remaining staff, how many staff would I need to cover 20% absence over the next 3 months?

These complex calculations require more than a knowledge of the business, they require a tool that can rapidly provide detailed analysis, costing and optimised shift patterns based on the requirements or predictions provided. Some tools take months to implement and require extensive training and configuration.

However, HFX has developed “Workforce Design” that not only can be implemented in a day, provides real-time analysis of “what if” predictions and during these coronatimes, HFX is offering a consultant lead remote session using the tool to model your scenarios for you, eliminating the need for any training. The other benefit to business is that this service (time limited) will provide you with a 50 page analytics report (produced by Workforce Design) and guidance for a fixed price without the need for subscription or any on-going cost.

Flexible Working Solutions

Working from home is not a new concept, nor simply a tool for dealing with the Coronavirus. Many employers have facilitated home working to various degrees whether ad-hoc, for specific staffing groups or even as a more generic policy for staff.

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, many companies have simply extended their normal home working practices both in terms of the staffing groups or the period of time that staff can be at home.

But we are not in “normal times” and as we move to home working it is becoming abundantly clear that “working from home” also needs to incorporate “Flexible Working” and for very good reasons.

The school closures that have been mandated from the 23rd of March mean that many colleagues will not simply be working from home but also juggling work with looking after their children. Not for a week or two, but perhaps for 12 or more weeks.

Whilst the weekend was traditionally a sacred time to spend with your family, in “CoronaTimes” families will be together the entire week. The trips out at weekends will somewhat disappear as facilities close down and social interaction becomes restricted.

Adapt to stay productive

As parents and families adapt to this new reality, they will be looking to balance their parental responsibilities (which might include a degree of home-schooling) with their work-life.  For many, there will also be a realisation that children are unlikely to comply with your request for them to quietly study between the hours of 9am to 5pm whilst you attempt to focus on work.  Those that try will likely see their levels of frustration and stress reach levels rise to such a degree that they are forced to decide between work or family. 

So, organisations need to adapt not just to Home Working, but Flexible Working. For many parents, the answer may lie in utilising their hitherto sacred weekends which now have less value, so that they can both look after their children and attend to their work. Colleagues are going to be far more effective at balancing their parental and work commitments over 7 days than the traditional 5.

Those parents who both work from  home might take a different approach and take it in turns to look after their children which might mean colleagues have a compressed week, e.g. 3 long days (12 hours) working, with 3 days looking after their children whilst their partner works.

There are many possible patterns of working that enable staff to meet the challenge of Home Working and Home Schooling. But they all require their employer to be flexible. Fortunately, Flexible Working (Flexitime) addresses this challenge. Flexitime is not a new concept and has been around for many years. What is new is the concept of combining these together to ensure staff can be productive and successful during this unprecedented period.

Technology can Help

HR Leaders need to engage with staff and provide flexible working patterns that address their specific circumstances whilst also meeting the needs of the organisation. Essential for success is the need for a Cloud based Workforce Management tool that provides managers and staff with visibility of when their colleagues are working (essential for conferencing and communication) but avoids the associated admin by enabling all colleagues to clock in remotely so that their time is automatically recorded.  The combination of flexibility and technology will ensure staff are productive whilst reducing their anxiety and stress. A New World of Work is being forced upon us through these unprecedented times and HR Leaders need to be agile and creative to help lead and navigate their organisation through these rough seas.

CoronaTimes: Home Working and the need for Flexible Working

Home Working and the need for Flexible Working

Working from home is not a new concept, nor simply a tool for dealing with the Coronavirus. Many employers have facilitated home working to various degrees whether ad-hoc, for specific staffing groups or even as a more generic policy for staff.

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, many companies have simply extended their normal home working practices both in terms of the staffing groups or the period of time that staff can be at home.

But we are not in “normal times” and as we move to home working it is becoming abundantly clear that “working from home” also needs to incorporate “Flexible Working” and for very good reasons.

The school closures that have been mandated from the 23rd of March mean that many colleagues will not simply be working from home but also juggling work with looking after their children. Not for a week or two, but perhaps for 12 or more weeks.

Whilst the weekend was traditionally a sacred time to spend with your family, in “CoronaTimes” families will be together the entire week. The trips out at weekends will somewhat disappear as facilities close down and social interaction becomes restricted.

Adapt to stay productive

As parents and families adapt to this new reality, they will be looking to balance their parental responsibilities (which might include a degree of home-schooling) with their work-life.  For many, there will also be a realisation that children are unlikely to comply with your request for them to quietly study between the hours of 9am to 5pm whilst you attempt to focus on work.  Those that try will likely see their levels of frustration and stress reach levels rise to such a degree that they are forced to decide between work or family. 

So, organisations need to adapt not just to Home Working, but Flexible Working. For many parents, the answer may lie in utilising their hitherto sacred weekends which now have less value, so that they can both look after their children and attend to their work. Colleagues are going to be far more effective at balancing their parental and work commitments over 7 days than the traditional 5.

Those parents who both work from  home might take a different approach and take it in turns to look after their children which might mean colleagues have a compressed week, e.g. 3 long days (12 hours) working, with 3 days looking after their children whilst their partner works.

There are many possible patterns of working that enable staff to meet the challenge of Home Working and Home Schooling. But they all require their employer to be flexible. Fortunately, Flexible Working (Flexitime) addresses this challenge. Flexitime is not a new concept and has been around for many years. What is new is the concept of combining these together to ensure staff can be productive and successful during this unprecedented period.

Technology can Help

HR Leaders need to engage with staff and provide flexible working patterns that address their specific circumstances whilst also meeting the needs of the organisation. Essential for success is the need for a Cloud based Workforce Management tool that provides managers and staff with visibility of when their colleagues are working (essential for conferencing and communication) but avoids the associated admin by enabling all colleagues to clock in remotely so that their time is automatically recorded.  The combination of flexibility and technology will ensure staff are productive whilst reducing their anxiety and stress. A New World of Work is being forced upon us through these unprecedented times and HR Leaders need to be agile and creative to help lead and navigate their organisation through these rough seas.

To find out how HFX can help your company during this time contact: 03333 447872 or visit: http://www.hfx.co.uk

Coping with workforce management and Coronavirus: the changed workplace

Photo by Kevin Bhagat 

Over the past few weeks HFX have seen a massive increase from customers asking how HFX can support their initiatives around combating and mitigating coronavirus.

We want to help by getting companies and their staff to be able to work from home to keep staff safe and adapt business with minimum disruption, so if you think any of the options below could be of benefit, please call us now on 03333 447872 or visit www.hfx.co.uk

  1. Staff working from home? – You may need our Time and Attendance and Flexitime Cloud solution which enables you to plan and track staff availability and working hours transparently and in real-time
  2. Mobile clocking app for staff working from home – Instant remote implementation in one day with no training required  
  3. Staff still on-site/in the office? – We are offering special pricing on Iris, facial and proximity devices for staff to clock in touch-free
  4. Fluctuating business demand? – Our Cloud Workforce Design solution or consultancy will help you adjust your staffing to your customer demands
  5. Absence planning with Coronavirus – also keep track of isolated colleagues
  6. Touch-free access control
  7. Visitor and Staff screening – Identifying high-risk colleagues returning to work
  8. Express implementation of Cloud solution
  9. Visitor and Contractor Registration module including health check questionnaire

The mixture of the above cloud-based options can help monitor sufficient resourcing levels for vital council services and keep front line services running effectively to provide uninterrupted service to the public.

To find out how HFX can help your business call us on 03333 447872 or visit: http://www.hfx.co.uk

HFX Data Security – Fort Knox for Mortals

HFX Data Security – Fort Knox for Mortals

At HFX, we take data security seriously. Our leading workforce management solution is hosted in the cloud for our customers, from SME to Enterprise and across many industries; all get the same high-security treatment regardless of their size.

But just how we do it and why it is secure is often unclear to many non-IT professionals, so this explainer endeavours to give you an insight into the lengths we go to…

First let’s talk about border security, when a tourist comes to the UK, they must pass through passport security before they are allowed in. This though isn’t the first security check made. Even before they get on the plane, there are often passport checks, luggage is scanned, and visa forms completed.

Our data centre is no different when someone opens a browser and points to our application, it doesn’t go straight to our servers, you are diverted first for inspection. The inspection checks your luggage (“data package”) looking for anything suspicious including your country of origin. But unlike airports, there is no queuing, this exhaustive process takes just milliseconds thanks to a huge array of servers built with a single purpose of inspecting our visitors. All this happens without you even knowing about it.

If you manage to pass through this check you will be forwarded to our actual servers, though not before going through another set of security checks (our own firewalls). Once we let you through the firewalls, we check your “data packages” again, just in case you slipped something past border security. Again, this happens seamlessly and instantly.

Assuming you get past these checks, you must provide the application credentials and naturally, all traffic is encrypted as well as data “at rest”. Each server is segmented so even if access is gained, there are bulkheads preventing anyone hopping from one server to another.

Prevention is not our only defence; All server activity is monitored to make sure no one is doing anything they shouldn’t on our servers. Anything unusual is alerted to our IT support team who will take any action required to secure the servers and the data.

Whilst the above explains the “logical” security we have in place, what about the physical security where the servers are located. Naturally, we don’t tend to reveal the physical location other than both our data centres (one is for Disaster Recovery) are located in the UK. 

In terms of logical security, I used the example of “Border Controls”, but in terms of physical security, it is like a “Prison” but more secure. Just like a prison, there are many inmates (tenants) in the datacentre who take this level of security as seriously as we do. Whilst we serve over 1,500 customers, some of our “inmates” serve millions of customers, so we are in good company (though again and for the same reason we can’t name names).

If you could locate our datacentre then you would still have a problem popping in for a look. You need to be authorised at least 24 hours in advance and by an existing “inmate”. You will also need to bring your passport as your identity will be checked.

Just to get to the building you need to get through the perimeter fence and anti-ram raid bollards. The security office itself has bulletproof glass and there are CCTV cameras everywhere monitored by the 24/7 security guards. Assuming you are allowed through by the security guard – be prepared to be searched on the way in and on the way out – there are two more security doors and mantraps with integrated access control. If you make it to our racks you will need to have previously registered your fingerprint on the biometric device to unlock the steel door on each rack.

Absolutely no-one gets in our out unless authorised and authenticated… just like a prison only a bit more secure.

Not every company may go to this degree of security, but we believe that customer data belongs to the customer and as custodian’s we take this very seriously. If you are looking for safe hands, you couldn’t be safer with your workforce management data than with HFX.

To find out more about HFX’s Cloud based workforce management solutions visit: https://www.hfx.co.uk/solutions/information/

Influenza is a Corporate issue

Influenza is a Corporate issue

Influenza kills an estimated 35,000 people yearly in the US and 600 people in the UK, results in 7.6 million sick days and cost UK organizations £1.35 billion. Whilst sickness is an everyday issue that occurs all year round, a large number of flu-related sick days compressed into such a short period can wreak havoc on business productivity and profitability.

The Influenza season generally peaks in January/February and tapers off in March and generally results in 5 to 7 days off work for those infected.

The impact on business is not simply the cost of overtime/agency cost in covering the sickness, but also loss of expertise, poor quality, delivery/service delays, and as a result, reputational damage.

Managing the absence of a few people for a few days is par for the course, but Influenza can decimate your workforce and for a much longer period and be fatal. It is for this reason, that in 2020 organisations should make Influenza a priority to safeguard their business and their colleagues. Organisations should carefully draw up a plan and consider;

  • Increased awareness of the Flu season within their teams including hygiene, vaccinations and absence policies.
  • Encouraging staff to get the Flu vaccination and providing time off to do so.
  • Reducing staff meetings during this period to reduce the opportunity for contagion. If you normally have company day/training events during this period, you should consider rescheduling.
  • Implementing clear guidelines about when colleagues can return to work. In general, you are contagious from day 1 (some experts suggest the day before) you have symptoms and remain infectious for 5 to 7 days. Those diagnosed with Flu should be encouraged or mandated to stay away from the office until after this infectious period. Again, in some situations, home working may be appropriate. It is far better to have one employee be off work a few extra days than risk infecting the whole team.
  • Plan effectively and make use of technology. A good rostering system can help with planning cover during the influenza season. Hope is not a strategy so organisations should roster cover so that the business can continue to operate within the expected absence projections. If you don’t have this data, then investing in a Time and Attendance solution would provide you with key absence metrics (filtered for Flu) to enable you to plan effectively for 2021. Software such as HFX’s 3D Rostering and Time and Attendance solutions can help with this.

Organisations that plan effectively are only taking care of business, but not also taking care of their staff (and their families) whilst reducing the burden and cost on the NHS.

HFX adds fully integrated Workforce Management and Time & Attendance solutions to its offering on G-Cloud 11

HFX increases its SaaS Cloud offerings on the Government’s Digital Marketplace

HFX, the market leading provider of SaaS Cloud Workforce Management Solutions, has extended its solutions available on the G-Cloud 11 Digital Marketplace, Cloud Software section. New for this latest edition of the Digital Marketplace is Imperago Workforce Management – an integrated package which includes Time & Attendance recording, 3D Rostering, Budget & Costing and Flexitime management – and Time & Attendance by Imperago – which includes recording for Time off in Lieu (TOIL), Flexitime and Access Control.

The full list of workforce and staff time management solutions available from HFX on the G‑Cloud 11 Digital Marketplace comprise:

  • Imperago Workforce Management
  • Imperago Lone Worker Monitoring
  • Imperago Visitor Registration
  • Imperago Automated Timesheets
  • Imperago Access Control
  • Time and Attendance by Imperago
  • Imperago Flexitime Management and Access Control
  • Imperago Flexitime Management
  • Imperago Student Attendance Recording

Nicola Smart, COO at HFX commented: “At HFX we have a long history of providing innovative workforce and time management solutions to the public sector. We work with our clients to ensure that our products evolve to meet their changing market requirements, enabling public sector organisations to provide safe working conditions for staff, while ensuring maximum efficiency and management of budgets in order to deliver best value public services.

“The G-Cloud Digital Marketplace continues to grow year on year, with over £3.5bn sales last year, and represents a significant sales channel for HFX.”

HFX workforce management solutions can be fully integrated with all major HR and Payroll solutions including MHR, Oracle, SAP, CIPHR, PeopleSoft, Zellis and Software for People, and many others.