EveryOneCloud – a 12 year demonstrates how simple it is to use

Our latest cloud solution for Attendance Recording, Presence and Location tracking is simple to setup, simple to configure, simple to use. It literally is child’s play. To prove it we asked a 12 year old not just to use the system but to record a demo of it.

With EveryOneCloud you can be up and running within hours collecting attendance data and/or tracking location and presence using any of our cloud devices including Hand Readers, Face Recognition Readers, Fingerprint readers, card/proximity (rfid/hid/mifare) or leveraging our Android mobile app or telecheck solutions.

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Health & Safety is not simply compliance

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These days the amount of compliance organisations must follow can often sink a ship. With all the tick box exercises and audits it can be easy to lose sight of their actual purpose. Health & Safety is just one such case. However, at its core, it is that organisations (whether private or public) owe a duty of care to their staff and covers the environment in which they work, the duties they carry out, the hours they work and the tools that they use to conduct their duties.

Inadequate equipment, poor environment, fatigue through long hours can impact on quality, cause accidents, absences and in serious cases reputational damage, legal action and loss of revenue. If care of your staff doesn’t grab your attention, then the potential costs most certainly will. Two of the world’s biggest disasters (Chernobyl the Exxon Valdez oil spill) were the result of human error linked to fatigue. An accident in your organisation may not end up polluting the world, but it could just put you out of business.

But many organisations regard Health and Safety as simply a “compliance issue”, a burdensome admin job that someone needs to do, when in fact Health & Safety when done right is a competitive advantage that improves productivity, efficiency and quality as well as staff retention and motivation. Once you think of Health & Safety not as a compliance issue but a commercial one your whole approach changes.

The good news is that technology is readily available to simplify and automate many aspects of Health & Safety not simply to avoid the manual paperchase but to improve the health and safety of your staff and the competitiveness of your organisation.

For instance, there have been many studies that show working long hours reduces both productivity and quality, e.g. working 60 hours a week does not deliver 50% more than 40 hours a week. Once you factor in potential for poor quality and accidents then you may be getting nothing in return for paying additional hours. Getting hours right has other benefits too; A recent study in Sweden showed that a 6 hour working day reduced sickness by 50%.

Solutions such as Imperago™ enable rosters to be generated that not only meet business demands but also consider suitability for staff, Risk & Fatigue. The result is shift patterns that not only meet business requirements and benefit staff but also reduce costs and risks.

Time and attendance solutions enable organisations to easily manage and monitor worked hours to minimise overtime and breaks between shifts to prevent staff fatigue. Some solutions also come with roll-call options that link to fire alarms and produce real-time muster reports direct to managers (or printers) in case of fire.

One of the reasons why hfx developed CloudMuster and MusterPoint (Links to fire alarms and 3g eMusterPoints) was the result our office fire in 2015. As a technology company we knew that a clipboard and pen was not an efficient or accurate way of checking the whereabouts of our staff.

Naturally not all staff work in a building or offices, many (for instance care workers) make many external visits a day and this creates its own set of safety issues (Lone Workers) but again there are eSolutions that enable staff to be tracked (via GPS) during working hours to ensure their safety.

Of course, you shouldn’t ever just react by throwing technology at a problem and walking away, but neither should you throw a clipboard, pen and tick box at it either in the hope that this absolves you or your organisation of responsibility for the Health & Safety of your staff.

Above all a positive approach to health & safety comes with the realisation that everybody wins when staff safety and wellbeing is a core part of the business plan not an external imposition.

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Contract Cleaning – cut Costs not Quality

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The market for contract cleaning has increased over the last 2 years but that is where the good news ends… The increase in demand has created an increase in competition (some estimates put this at up to 40,000) putting already slim margins (averaging 4%) under pressure.

Safeguarding that 4% is the over-riding concern among many charged with leading the business whilst balancing this with the need to win contracts and grow the business.

Many in the sector have already been burnt by the vanity of growth over sanity of profit and recognise the need to keep a strong handle on costs but with strong competition are struggling to find anything left to save and are in danger of cutting too far and risking Quality and Reliability which can turn into a spiral of cancelled contracts.

The secret to many within this and other sectors is to borrow some of the lessons from Amazon (their international margins are not very far off from contract cleaning) who relentlessly focus on efficiency whilst providing excellent customer service.

The focus is never about cutting the service they provide, but the internal focus on simplification, automation and efficiency of the internal activities that deliver the service.

Automation though technology enables organisations to eliminate much of the administration and paperwork whilst enabling them to get real insight into their organisations performance and profitability -or otherwise- of contracts. It provides real-time information enabling quick decisions and adjustments to be made to keep the business on track.  The impact of this cannot be underestimated, it enables early intervention, not a retrospective post-mortem. This is not just simply about profit or efficiency but also tracking quality and outcomes. The importance here is that poor quality or reliability will at some point turn into customer attrition and is therefore lead factor and you cannot prevent what you can’t predict.

However, the rush to implement IT systems should be kept in check. Software solutions will deliver enormous benefits, but not by themselves! Software isn’t a miracle cure nor a mind reader for your organisation. You need to invest not just money but critically time to ensure that the software delivers to your objectives.

Before rushing there will be a need to review the processes being automated; A key objective should be to simplify these processes and methods. Simplification and clarification of processes is a precursor and will yield positive returns. Often organisations are unaware of the growth in complexity of processes and contracts as there is very little visibility (often as paperwork creates “data islands”).  Secondly if you do not understand in detail your processes then you have no hope of any software replicating them. Thirdly complex processes will impact on the solution, the cost and the implementation of the solution.

Start small. An expensive ERP solution might seem attractive, but will it really address your key pain points or just replicate or – worse – make operations even more complicated.

Be focused. What’s your greatest cost? In most organisations your greatest cost is your people. Automating pay through Time and Attendance will significantly improve efficiency, accuracy and savings by removing payroll errors, fraud and overpayments.

But there is more to be gained by Time and Attendance than simply automation, the ability to track employees at each client site enables quality of service by providing real-time updates. With real-time attendance information you can mitigate non-attendance by deploying other resources ensuring that the customer is not impacted by absence – this level of quality assurance keeps you at the top of the contract pile while others are discarded through poor reliability.

Avoid IT complexity. Many organisations are going lean and demanding cloud/SaaS solutions to avoid the complexity and overhead of managing the solution internally. SaaS also brings its own financial rewards as well by spreading the cost and providing Pay As You Grow payment models.

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Time to Reboot Productivity

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Time to Reboot Productivity

One thing is clear from the myriad of UK statistics; A huge number of UK companies just aren’t productive. They may be working hard for their customers and stakeholders, but they just aren’t working Smart.

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And here is the evidence;

  • Productivity (measured as output per hour worked) is as a huge 18% below the G7 Average (ONS) and the widest since 1995.
  • If we compare the UK to EA/EU productivity growth (2016) we are just above Italy and Greece in the group of 32 countries.
  • Historically our productivity growth was 2% per year. Since 2007 growth has evaporated and as of 2017 (Q2) we are .5% below 2007 levels.
  • To put this into perspective we are 20% poorer due to productivity stagnation than we would have been had productivity continued to improve at 2%.
  • These figures are bad enough but when you remove London (home to the Finance Sector and 32% higher than UK average) from the figures productivity is even worse than the headline figures.

How does this affect your business?

The statistics reveal that the problem of poor productivity is not a problem that affects “some other business” but to some extent and degree most businesses. Poor productivity results in loss of competitiveness, reduced profits, wage stagnation and skill/staff attrition. If any of these resonate then you too may be one of the many and not the few.

Whose fault is it anyway?
Whilst it is true that national infrastructure (Rail/Roads/Broadband) contribute towards productivity (something the government is “working on”) this is just one factor which is outside of the control of business. The other critical and contributory factors remain with the CEO and the company board.

Management.
A task too often focused on maintaining the status quo rather than constantly striving to improve the efficiency of their area of responsibility.

Skills.
Ensuring your staff are fully trained to perform their tasks at optimum performance. Improving skills not just increases output it also reduces rework though improved quality.

Processes.
Outdated paper-based and unwieldy processes that simply burden staff and reduce their productive time must constantly be identified, reworked – or eliminated – and automated.

Technology.
The ability for technology not just to automate processes but transform them is no longer a vision but an everyday fact for most high-tech business. Both process transformation and (technology) automation should be viewed as a single inseparable goal and activity.

Planning & Measurement.
The transformational impact of technology enables not just improved planning but also real-time measurement enabling a business to close the loop on productivity initiatives and implement continuous improvement easily and cost effectively.

Where do I start?

For many businesses the answer is obvious and that is to measure the output per hour worked.

One of the biggest costs for businesses is staff and highly productive companies have the following information at their fingertips and often in real-time;

  • Where are my staff?
  • What are they working on (activity/task/client/contract/customer)?
  • Are my staff working patterns aligned to business demand?
  • What changes must be made to align staff to business demand and avoid unnecessary downtime, overtime or unproductive time?
  • What is my staff’s overtime, absence and unproductive time today/this week/this month?

If you cannot answer these questions simply and quickly about your greatest and most expensive asset (your staff) then you cannot even start to identify issues, implement improvement plans or measure the effectiveness of those plans.

Nor have you laid the foundations for continuous improvement.

The biggest mistake companies make with improvement projects is that it is a one-step process rather than a continuous never-ending cycle that is impacted by technology, methodology, tools, training and materials.

Above all, its time to measure, not once or twice but constantly to ensure improvements are not one-off but continuous. The UK needs a Productivity Reboot and businesses should not wait for the government to make it happen but make the changes only business can make. That time is now.

 

 

Lone Workers – The Hidden Workforce

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There are over 6 million lone workers in the UK which represents about 20% of the UK workforce. They represent the “hidden” workforce that is under represented in an office they rarely frequent.

Lone Workers can be found in most – if not all – organisations across industry and performing a varied set of functions for the business.

The NHS is one such organisation with up to 100,000 (9% of its workforce) health care professionals who work on their own every day.

There are significant challenges for organisations with Lone Workers that are often underestimated by senior management and misunderstood by managers. This can often manifest itself by regarding Lone Workers as a nuisance or “heavy maintenance” because systems, processes and procedures are often designed around the majority (80%+) office-based staff.

Office based on-boarding processes and procedures are generally well understood; desk, chair, space, landline, laptop can be often allocated and deployed without issue, but Lone Workers often have differing requirements, and these can be interpreted as staff being “awkward” or a “nuisance” rather than simply having a different set of requirements to office-based workers. This can create resentment from both management and lone workers.

Maintaining a coherent company culture that often is cultivated informally within an office environment (the so called “water cooler” chats) are weakened through remote and lone workers and more proactive and organised interactions and events are required to ensure company values and culture are shared and embodied equally among staff. As important is the need to ensure positive relationships across the organisation.

Whilst hierarchical structures might appear to be the main mechanism in order to execute strategy, the reality is that at ground level, it is positive relationships which are responsible for getting the job done. Remote and Lone workers have less interaction and therefore the potential for less positive relationships exist and this can negatively affect productivity within and across teams.

The issue of duty of care also becomes more complicated when staff are not office-based and must be dealt with thoroughly. The law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone. (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974; the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999).

There is no magic process for this given that Lone Workers work in a variety of settings and environments, from working in a petrol station, working at home or in a care setting visiting a patient. Each scenario is different and requires a detailed analysis of risks along with a mitigation plan.

Lone Workers – by their very nature – are at greater risk than office-based workers and need additional support. As many as 150 lone workers are either physically or verbally attacked EVERY day (British Crime Survey) and the Royal College of Nursing noted that more than 6% of lone workers in the NHS had been physically attacked.

These statistics should provide a stark reminder to those responsible for risk assessment and mitigation that such risks should not be treated as a theoretical tick-box exercise but a reality that needs to be addressed.

Risk assessment and mitigation needs to include the environment that the lone worker is subject to, the tasks the lone worker is expected to carry out, the associated risks with both environment and activities as well as compiling a list of potential scenarios and how they could be addressed. This should include procedures, training, tools, technology and equipment that either prevent, mitigate or provide for the ability to escape harm and/or rapid response.

The very nature of lone working means that neither colleagues or management are “by their side” to help advise, assist, support the lone worker in case of an adverse event.

Below (non exhaustive) list of areas an organisation should consider;

Conflict Management Training:

The ability to de-escalate as situation before it becomes physical/violent.

Real-Time Risk Assessment and Awareness training:

There are many situations that cannot be foreseen or turned into a process/procedure so the ability for the lone worker to make this assessment and take appropriate action is critical when unable to contact their manager.

The provision of protective equipment and medical kit:

Where appropriate and specific to their task these can be essential.

Technology, Mobile Tracking and alerting:

There are solutions that enable Lone Workers to be – by consent – tracked during their working time so that management can exercise their duty of care. Some systems also have a panic button on the mobile device that can alert staff and/or alert staff when they have not received a GPS position after a certain amount of time or indeed haven’t changed position after a set amount of time.

Culture and Relationships:

It is important for the organisation to create opportunities to build relationships with both office-based and lone worker staffing groups recognising that this doesn’t happen naturally. Examples of this could be company days, office days, or events held off-site and bring staff together in a neutral environment. This also creates opportunities to reinforce company culture and values within and between teams.

Part of this is not just recognising there are different staffing groups but also explaining these differences and communicating the value each bring to the organisation. The value of doing this should not be underestimated or disregarded as a “warm and fuzzy” initiative but key to ensuring that part of your workforce isn’t unseen and undervalued.

In conclusion, whilst lone workers are rarely seen in the office, it is imperative that they do not become your “Hidden” workforce. Their voice, their views, their requirements must be heard in equal proportion to the workers you meet every day. Only by ensuring they are fully integrated, engaged and considered will you be able to ensure not just their needs and safety are met but also maintain and improve productivity levels across the whole of the organisation.

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