Top 5 Customer Requests during Coronatimes

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:

  1. 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.

  2. Homeworker
    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

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.

About HFX

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.

HFX wins £500k 7 year Public Sector contract

HFX wins £500k 7 year contract with a large public sector organisation. 

The HFX solution will provide a full Cloud Flexitime system to 3,500 staff working in 13 different council buildings and includes a complete security upgrade for the Council with fully integrated HFX Cloud Access control.

Nick Whiteley HFX CEO says: ‘This is an important win for HFX especially in these complicated times. We have seen a surge of interest over the last few weeks from companies looking for solutions to help them manage a way of working more flexibly in terms of location and working hours.  

This is going to be the strongest trend going forward as we come out of the Coronavirus crisis and HFX are proud to be prepared for this demand with extensive functionality within their Flexitime and Home Working modules.’

Alex Boa Sales Director commented that ‘we have seen through the outbreak of Coronavirus that moving towards a pure Cloud solution is no longer optional but essential for organisations that want to provide resilient services to all their offices and staff including those that work remotely and from home. HFX was recognised as having the most complete cloud solution on the market, with rapid implementation and exceptional support services.’

This latest win brings the number of local authorities within the UK to 400 and defines HFX as a market leader within this sector.  Indeed, HFX were the pioneers of Flexiworking and brought the first Flexitime software to the UK in the 1970s.

Nicola Smart COO states: ‘It is this track record and innovation which will propel us forward in the New World of Work post Coronavirus and we are looking forward to helping more companies manage their flexible workforces.’

Why Coronatimes are accelerating Cloud Adoption

Why “Coronatimes” are accelerating Cloud Adoption

We have already seen a steady adoption and migration to Cloud Solutions for the last 5 years as organisations seek to become more agile and less reliant on their own IT infrastructure. However, the radical change in working brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the adoption of Cloud solutions as organisations rush to adapt to a New World of Work.

Even before the outbreak, there were many benefits of Cloud based solutions which are worth exploring in detail;

WHY CLOUD?

Cloud based solutions are typically quicker to implement as they require no software to be installed, reliance upon internal IT or procurement of additional servers. Typically, this means that an organisation will achieve a faster ROI (Return On Investment) whilst reducing the cost of ownership. Further still SaaS Cloud solutions are an operating cost (rather than CAPEX which is the case with on-premise solutions), enabling organisations to conserve their cash and align the costs to the benefits obtained. SaaS Cloud solutions often ‘payback as they go’ out of the benefits they derive meaning the monthly cost is actually zero as a net effect to the company.

Cloud solutions are easier to support as suppliers can resolve queries quicker without the need to attend site. With automatic updates, the organisation also benefits from the latest security and feature updates ensuring the solution is always secure and feature full.

Most suppliers offer “Up-time” levels (the time that solution is available for users) that far surpasses that which could be provided by internal support. This is because they leverage £100m hosting facilities with highly redundant systems and failover which ensures the solution is running 247. This reduces – and almost eliminates – downtime that hitherto could impact on staff productivity.

However, perhaps one of the biggest benefits of Cloud solutions is the agility that they provide their host organisations and staff. Because the solution is provided via the cloud and not on installed at your office, it provides flexibility for organisations to move or bring online additional offices without the additional headache of IT. It also enables staff who are working from home/remotely with the ability to access the solution anywhere levelling-up the access to essential tools wherever staff are based.

SUPPORTING THE TRANSITION TO HOME WORKING

All these are compelling arguments in the best of times, but during “Coronatimes” moving to the cloud is not simply beneficial but now essential. Those organisations that invested in Cloud solutions have found the imposed “home working” to be relatively seamless with staff able to access the same applications from home as they would at work. Contrast this with organisations who retain legacy systems and are frantically trying to find “work-arounds” or simply making do without the key systems that hitherto were fundamental to employee productivity in the workplace.

However, this approach is short-sighted. It assumes that within a few weeks, maybe a few months things will return to normal. This is flawed on two counts, firstly some form of lock-down and home-working is likely to be mandated for perhaps up to 6 months according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. But more importantly it assumes that everything will eventually return to normal.

PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER CORONAVIRUS

The onset of Coronavirus is not just an “unprecedented” event but one that will define society and the world of work long after its health and economic impacts have receded. Whilst BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus) have just started to enter our lexicon, we can expect these terms will be used to describe the many changes that are being made due to Coronavirus and will continue to persist particularly in how we conduct business and work together.

Before Coronavirus I was not a fan of home-working, but our cloud-based solutions have made the transition seamless and the fears that this would impact communications, culture and management have so far proved groundless. In fact, communication and productivity has actually improved and our cloud solutions have brought people closer together. We use our own cloud-based Time and Attendance tools so that colleagues can log their time and share their availability, and this has not just resulted in home working but also flexible working.

As the many of us move to Home and Flexible working and discover that with the right cloud-based tools this not only brings benefits to colleagues but also to the organisation we can expect that for many it will continue long after Coronavirus.

So, organisations, should not be looking for short-term fixes or work-a-rounds but actively preparing for the New World of Work, by investing solutions that are cloud based and accessible and, enhancing their support for remote/home working by implementing Scheduling and Time & Attendance to ensure that management, communication is not only maintained but enhanced and improved.

To find out more about HFX and our solutions please call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

Cloud Time & Attendance

THE BENEFITS OF A CLOUD SOLUTION:
• Reduced IT costs. Moving to cloud computing
reduces the cost of managing and maintaining
your IT systems
• No IT hardware required
• No installation required
• Access to the system from any location and from
any device including your mobile phone
• Cloud based clocking devices means no network
configuration is required
• Scalability
• Business continuity
• Access to automatic updates
• Disaster recovery – Automatic back ups

Implementation of Cloud Solution

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

Remote 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.