During the current global pandemic, businesses worldwide have been compelled to adapt to working from home.
Like many others, we have taken to setting up offices in living rooms and kitchens with the sole purpose of keeping a business going as close to normal as possible.
Working from home always presents an interesting challenge, as it means more distractions and fewer ways to interact in-person to colleagues, and Managers will worry about productivity and whether staff are putting in the hours!
Time and Attendance: managing remote workers
To overcome these challenges, businesses are exploring new methods to manage and work together with their staff and enable more ways for employees to connect, both with each other and with clients.
This is why it's so important to manage the time and attendance of remote workers for companies of all sizes, to ensure productive ways of working. In an office environment or on a factory floor its simple to see what staff are doing, but its not so easy when they are out in the field or working from home.
In this blog we will cover:
- Tools for remote working
- The benefits of time and attendance systems
- How T&A can help with a remote workforce
- Payroll Accuracy
- Mobile Applications
- GPS Location Monitoring
- Project management and Cost Control
- Tips for Keeping remote workers motivated and engaged
Monitoring staff and hours worked
It is important for management to monitor staff who work remotely to guarantee projects are having time spent on them to be completed, and time isn’t being wasted.
Fortunately, we live in an age where innovative tools allow for remote working and have the ability for supervisors to keep an eye on working hours with time and attendance systems.
What tools are available to support remote working?
Firstly, one of the most important ways to help teams succeed while working remotely is to get the tools to help them stay connected and productive. Tools like internal social platforms, project management, and video conferencing will all help employees perform day-to-day tasks, but one tool that should not be overlooked is a time and attendance system, because of the benefits that it brings to the employer and the employee.
What is a time and attendance system?
In its simplest form, a Time and Attendance system will record when employees start and stop work, providing details about employees working hours, late arrivals, early departures, time taken on breaks and absenteeism. Traditionally this will have been done as employees as enter a building, “clocking in”, and as they leave a building, “clocking out”. Over the years this has changed from a mechanical punch or print card type system to the more sophisticated electronic systems used today with access control swipe cards, tokens, mobile phones and even biometrics.
What are the benefits of T&A systems for companies?
There are many obvious benefits of T&A for on-site workers coming to office or factory where they clock-in or use an access token that logs their attendance, and but many of these benefits can also extend to a remote or a home-based workforce:
- Workforce management
- Records of working hours
- Payroll Accuracy
- Project Management
- Cost Control
- Capacity management
If you are a business that has remote workers that are required to be operational for a specific time frame, a time and attendance system will be hugely beneficial for you.
How does a time and attendance system help with remote staff or working from home?
By equipping teams with a centralised system for managing hours, it makes it easier for businesses to manage a workforce and keep a record of working hours, by employee, project, activity type or any other required parameter
By choosing the right solution, companies can have a time and attendance system that is fast, simple and hassle-free.
How does time and attendance software improve payroll accuracy?
One of the key advantages for any T&A solution is that it will accurately record hours worked and improve the accuracy of the workforce payroll system. Calculating hours worked and overtime hours becomes a simple task, ensuring employees are paid correctly for their time.
Using an automated system to track time and attendance will also help to reduce manual entry errors and prevent costly litigation that may arise from noncompliance with the working time directive.
Even if remote working employees don’t come into the office, they can easily log hours worked with a remote clocking in app on a mobile device and with a T&A solution linked with your payroll system, you don’t have to worry about entering employee hours manually every week or month.
Employee self service
Being able to view and track attendance data in one centralized system provides tremendous value to a company and its staff. Using the self-service module, employees can review the hours they have worked, as well as accrued time, holidays and available sick leave. These features will contribute to employees readily adopting the time and attendance software and encourage them to keep accurate records.
Mobile applications for remote workers
When managing employees who work on the road or at home it’s a good idea to have a mobile application that runs with it which makes it much more convenient and simpler to record time on the go. There are various time and attendance remote modules which allow for this such as:
- Mobile phone app – which offers a ‘clock in and out’ feature and allows employees to manage holiday requests from their mobile.
- Virtual Terminal – is a clocking in and out facility on a laptop or PC which is particularly effective for those who travel with a laptop or work from home. The employee simply logs in using their username and password via the web app installed on their computer or laptop. They can then clock in and out, and even change the project they are working on, all they need is the internet.
The great thing about these mobile solutions is that an employee is not limited to just using these methods of clocking. For example, an employee could clock in at the office using a physical clocking-in terminal, then leave the building and later clock out using their mobile application. All clocking information is updated on the system in real-time, giving you up-to-date information on the status of all your remote workers.
GPS location monitoring
We are seeing more and more requests for geolocation alongside the mobile clocking applications, this places a pin on a map for where the individual clocked in and out. This combines the benefits of a clocking-in terminal with a cloud-based time and attendance.
GPS is a great tool for sales teams and on-call engineers allowing managers and supervisors to know where staff are when clocking in and out. This helps to manage productivity and allows them to know what area they are working in that particular day in case a customer locally needs a site visit.
Project management and cost control
When a business has a particular project where the importance of its completion is time dependant, time and attendance systems can be useful to ensure everything is on schedule with the addition of Project Tracking and Cost centre modules. Employees can allocate time spent on specific projects and reports are generated for management to review actual costs against quoted and predicted costs.
Managing on-site capacity
While not strictly for remote workers, site capacity is a concern for many organisations. As businesses start to plan for a return to on-site working, many will no doubt have limits around numbers of people on-site and so need a way to track occupation levels.
With the use of staff scheduling, group diaries and presence indicator panels you can manage and be alerted on staff numbers and attendance. This provides businesses with a huge value add when it comes to an adaptable system that moves from remote working to return to work solutions that can manage staffing levels.
Remote cloud solutions
Cloud-based Time and Attendance systems, provide easy solutions for entering hours and quickly routing time for approvals. Results cover every aspect of employee hours: easy, timely and accurate pay and regulatory issues are resolved. Reporting and payroll are made so much easier.
Now let’s talk scheduling. All the cloud-based systems have automated scheduling. This is a time saver for managers on the front end, but also great when it comes to shift swapping.
Regardless of the solution that works best for your business, moving to cloud-based time and attendance software cuts out half the possible errors.
How do you measure the productivity of a remote worker?
There are many ways to improve the productivity of a workforce, whether they are remote or local, and not all ways are easily automated or can be software-driven. These can range from setting clear goals and deadlines, through to establishing a trust culture among staff. However, measuring that improving productivity is about how much work is done in a period of time, and you can only know that by measuring one key metric that comes up time and time again...hours worked and hours billed, and for that, you need a Time and Attendance.
How to keep remote workers motivated and engaged?
It is important to carefully manage remote workers, not just in terms of their Time and Attendance, but also their wellbeing.
There is no excuse not to ensure teams are working together, even if they do it remotely. You can keep employees connected by using software such as Zoom and Skype. These are good tools to use for holding team meetings and keeping staff engaged with the wider organisation.
Readers can find out more about the cost benefits of T&A by filling out our simple ROI calculator on our website, but in the meantime we have created a guide to some to tactics and practices commonly used in STANLEY that you may find helpful.
8 tips for productive teams
- Use video often. Video conferencing helps manages the face to face (all be it 2D) connections between your team members. Maintaining face-to-face contact is especially critical for remote teams.
- Regular huddles - One perk of working from home is the option of flexible hours. Make sure remote employee hours have some overlap with your office hours and that you meet regularly.
- Establish expectations – Set guidelines and ensure remote employees what you expect them to work.
- Create virtual social events – Working from home can be isolating, we have seen a huge rise in the popular Virtual Pub quizzes to help combat this, and ensure people meet outside of work still. Another example is to host a weekly virtual happy hour (drinking not required) or a virtual team-building exercise to build bridges between employees.
- Be available. If you expect good remote employee attendance, you cannot be an absent employer. Check on remote employees to see how they are doing.
- Communication is essential for good remote team attendance management. When it comes to productivity, a present and engaged workforce make all the difference. Make sure you're managing employee attendance for your remote team.
- Take Breaks! - It’s not just the start and end times that managers need to keep a close eye on while their staff work from home, but ensure your staff take their lunch and break times, get out the house and go for that daily walk. It's good to turn off from work for an hour or so halfway through the day
- Dress for success – it may not sound important, but this gets the brain and body into a mental state ready to work, therefore making it easier to focus on the important tasks ahead of you for the day.