By John Ovington, Sales & Support Director at Carval Computing

Clocking in and out used to be viewed with suspicion by staff who thought of it as ‘big brother’, typically associated with manufacturing and shop floor environments. However, with the trend towards more flexible working that is now all changing.

We live in an age where for many the boundaries between work and home life are becoming ever more blurred. With email, smartphones, tablets and wifi hotspots many people can work from any location at any time. While this can be great for business and staff alike, it also brings with it some downsides. The extra flexibility to work from any location may make it easier to balance work and home commitments, but it has also intensified the already long hours culture in the UK. According to the ONS Britons, on average, work the third longest hours in Europe (with only Greece and Austria working longer). It seems that everyone is working longer, and many feel that they get little recognition for those extra hours that no-one else sees.

Since the recession there has been an increased focus on efficiency, achieving more with less, and boosting productivity. As a result there has been a huge increase in the interest in time & attendance software. These state of the art solutions, now mean that staff can clock in from their computers, or from their smartphones, as well as the traditional clocking in method where they use a card or token to login as they enter their place of work. This more modern approach that harnesses the latest mobile technology doesn’t necessarily mean a free-for-all as staff clock in from any location (although it can mean that), using location based services, employers can set limits on where staff can clock in from (say, from home, or a client/partner office, as well as their desk at work).

These days, time and attendance software (T&A) isn’t just for those on the production line, in retail, in health, public services and in other customer facing sectors, all staff can benefit. Managers can see where their staff are at all times, and staff know that their managers know they are working. A good T&A system supports flexible working, which many more organisations and their staff are now embracing. On top of this T&A provides a wealth of health and safety, and lone worker safeguards.

The benefits to the organisation of introducing a T&A system are well documented:

• Increases productivity and punctuality
• Staff paid for work completed in a timely manner
• Ensures hours contracted are worked
• Managers know which staff are working where and when, field-based and home-based staff can be managed the same as office-based staff
• Transparency means staff know that everyone is being treated fairly
• Enables flexible work patterns to be correctly monitored
• When integrated with payroll/HR – streamlined back office processes and less chance of fraud
• When large numbers of agency staff are used, invoices can be more easily checked

So how do you convince your staff?

Clocking in and out is being welcomed in many more enlightened organisations, where staff realise that by logging their hours worked, they are being given credit for those hours. Lateness, long lunches, and general shirking is highlighted, to the benefit of the rest of staff that work hard.

The benefits to staff mirror those for the company.

• Staff receive full credit for the hours they work
• No need to complete timesheets
• Payment is on time, and prone to far fewer errors
• Transparency means that there is nowhere to hide for those that are habitually late or take over long breaks
• Staff are often able to take time off for personal commitments, making the hours up later
• Policy on overtime, breaks, lateness is maintained consistently across the organisation – everyone, in whichever department, is treated equally.
• Supports both formal and informal flexible working patterns
• Lone workers are protected
• Use of mobile technology means staff can potentially clock in from anywhere
• Self-service features mean that staff can see what hours they have worked and see how much absence they have taken

Communication is the key

When introducing any new system, people need time to get used to the idea and understand how it will affect them personally. By keeping staff well informed and spelling out the benefits you will help to smooth the process considerably.

Many organisations have found that by introducing time and attendance a department at a time, the good news travels fast, and as a result other departments ask to be moved to the new system.
To promote strong user adoption, ensure that staff are well trained beforehand, and repeat that training with refresher sessions after a few months, so that after the initial excitement, they don’t forget all the features and functions.

By investing in a Self-service system, staff will feel more empowered as they can check their own balances for hours worked, and holidays and other absences taken.

With so many plus points for the majority of staff, as well as the productivity and visibility benefits for the organisation, it is no surprise that the trend for Time and Attendance software is very much increasing.