Clocking and employee attendance

Employee attendance management coming to a cloud near you

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Soon managers will be able to monitor attendance, authorise hours and calculate pay for their mobile or office-based staff on the move and without any need for a PC whatsoever.

Our development team is currently building a web browser and Android version of our popular e-Log attendance management software  with Html5, CSS3 and PhoneGap development tools. This will allow our clocking management solutions to be operated on the cloud, anywhere and anytime – and with any kind of device.

Watch this blog for news of trial downloads in the near future.

Currently easyLog offers a range of staff clocking options using NFC-enabled Android tablets and phones.

Posted by administrator in Business support, Care home management, Clocking and employee attendance, Domiciliary care and supported living, Latest news, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Timesheets, 0 comments

New web pages for community-based care providers

As you may know we recently gave our specialist product for domiciliary care and supported living providers, Home Care Studio, an overhaul – and now we have completed a revamp of our web pages for community-based care customers to match.

We have divided the section into two parts for simplicity, covering the Home Care Studio software and visit recording hardware options.

The Home Care Studio pages detail the six main features of the system: client records and care plans, rostering, payroll and invoicing, staff records and training, the easyLog care-Logger app and risk assessments. Each description includes sample screen images that can be expanded to full size with a click of a mouse so you can see how it all looks for yourself.

The visit recording pages cover three options popular with our domiciliary care and supported living customers: mobile phone and tablet-based devices, SIM-based devices and our range of specialist terminals for mobile workers.

You can find out more about our software and hardware products for community-based care providers by checking out the new pages. Alternatively, you can discuss the options with one of our team.

Posted by administrator in Clocking and employee attendance, Domiciliary care and supported living, Latest news, Mobile worker tracking, Rota software, Scheduling software, 0 comments

Bristol care home group first to use hand-scanner template software

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Last month we announced the launch of our new software that distributes hand templates to scanners in different locations – and already our first client has gone live with the application.

Bristol-based Alexandra Homes is using our hand-scanners to keep a record of staff comings and goings at all three of its premises. The software upgrade means that employees’ hand templates can be instantly distributed to all three care homes, so employees can clock in or out at any site without having to create a new template – something that will be particularly useful for newcomers and staff working across the different homes.

For more information about biometric clocking devices, read our blog on choosing the most suitable device or visit our new clocking options pages. Alternatively, contact us to discuss the most appropriate system for your workforce.

Posted by administrator in Care home management, Clocking and employee attendance, Latest news, Mobile worker tracking, 0 comments

New clocking options pages reflect changing times – and technology

Not so long ago, for millions of workers clocking on (and off) meant inserting a piece of card into a mechanical timepiece – a system that was devised in the 19th century. In recent decades, technology has transformed the world of recording staff attendance, providing affordable options to suit all kinds of employers and workers – and the revolution is far from over.

Just as in other areas of our lives, mobile phones and tablet computers are playing an increasingly important role in attendance recording, while related technology, such as SIM-cards and near-field communication (NFC), is making traditional electronic terminals more versatile and cost-effective than ever. Even biometric devices, such as hand-scanners, have moved from the realms of science fiction to the everyday.

As a result of these developments, we have been rethinking our range of clocking devices and the way we present them on our website.

We have created a whole new section dedicated to clocking options, which breaks each type of terminal or device into these five categories:

  • Mobile phones and tablets – possibly the future of attendance recording, these devices are based on everyday Android mobile phones and tablets, making them a cost-effective, simple and extremely versatile option.
  • Hand-scanners and other biometric – high-tech but affordable kit that provides evidence of identity as well as time and date.
  • Fixed card and fob terminals – robust exteriors and lots of media options make these devices suitable for a wide variety of users and locations, including outside.
  • Fixed SIM-card based terminals – simple and inexpensive, these devices are ideal for employers who want clocking data to be transferred automatically from remote sites.
  • Specialist mobile worker devices – a range of low-cost devices, from i-Button activated wands and fixed terminals to an Android handheld with NFC.

You can browse the whole section from our new clocking options home page.

If you would like any help choosing the most appropriate clocking device for your situation, please contact us.

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Software makes hand-scanners even more efficient

If you use hand-scanners you will already know they provide a simple and cost effective way of monitoring staff attendance at multiple sites – and now we have made them even more efficient by introducing new software that distributes hand templates to numerous scanners.

This means that you will only need to scan each employee’s hand once and the template record will be instantly available to all required devices.

Hand-scanners provide a reliable method of recording workers’ attendance in a wide range of situations, including dirty environments. To find out more about our new software or the benefits of hand-scanners, please call one of our team.

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Coming soon – new generation of NFC phone and tablet clocking terminals

Android-branded NFC tags and key fob

In a first for easyLog, we will soon be releasing a new generation of devices based on near field communications (NFC) technology, which will allow tablets and smartphones to be used as clocking-in terminals – and much more.

“This is a great step forward because it means we can supply an all-purpose reader built into an everyday device – a computer or phone – rather than one designed specifically for clocking in,” says easyLog’s Graham Rolando.

“It makes the technology more convenient and flexible and, at the same time, more cost-effective for our clients, which is something we think they will welcome.”

The easy-to-use and fully automated system operates on Android tablets and smartphones, turning them into fixed location clocking terminals or handheld devices carried by individual employees. It works in conjunction with special NFC-enabled tags, which come in a number of formats, including cards, key fobs and stickies.

The pack includes a master tag and user tags. Waving either type of tag near the device, or vice-versa, automatically invokes the software. A user tag will bring up a screen prompting for clock in or out. When an option has been selected, the device sends the record to the host computer. The master tag allows system administrators to configure the device and program user tags.

There are two handheld modes and one terminal mode:

  1. Software on smartphone with tag in fixed location (handheld mode 1) – suitable for domiciliary care or the cleaning industry
  2. Software on portable tablet with tag in fixed location (handheld mode 2) – suitable for night checks in care homes
  3. Software on fixed tablet with tags held by individual employees (terminal mode) – conventional staff clock-in

This product is available for order now. Tags can be configured with i-Button codes for seamless transition from the i-Button system.

Three further products based on this software will be available later this year:

  • NFC Employee Station – wave tag over device to see employee messages, rota and pay information (extension of terminal mode above)
  • NFC Care Room Checks – care records currently available via Care Logger automatically accessed in new front-end when tablet is presented to resident room tag
  • NFC Domiciliary Records – employees wave phone near service-user tag to display care requirements, visit information, care plans and risk assessments relating to the service user (extension of handheld mode 1 above)

For further information on any of our NFC products, please contact us.

Posted by administrator in Care home management, Clocking and employee attendance, Invoicing staff time, Latest news, Mobile worker tracking, Scheduling software, Timesheets, 1 comment

Four easy steps to tracking your mobile workers

For a growing number of people, going to work doesn’t mean travelling to the same place at the same time every day. These days even smaller employers usually offer flexible hours and homeworking, while bigger companies are increasingly moving parts of their business to specialist remote offices. In fact, global market analysts IDC predict that by 2013 there will be 129.5 million mobile workers inWestern Europe– that’s more than the number of traditional workers.

According to IDC, mobile workers can be broadly defined as office-based, non-office-based and home-based. But in real life it’s a bit more complicated. We have discovered from working with our wide client base that mobile workers come in many and varied forms – and they are becoming more diverse all the time.

This makes choosing an appropriate mobile worker tracking and attendance recording solution difficult to say the least. So we have put together this four-point plan to make the process easier.

1. One size does not fit all

Do an instant audit of your mobile workers and break down their activities. Categorise them according to the extent of their mobility – for example, do they:

  • Always work from home?
  • Check in to an office daily or just from time to time?
  • Work at a range of company or client sites?

Also take a note of the numbers in each category and how often each employee visits a location. This should give you a picture of the diversity of your workforce and the kind of attendance system, or systems, you’ll want. For instance, you’ll probably need to consider whether staff arrive at a work location individually or in groups; if they are occasional, part-time workers or regular, full-time staff; if you need instant notification of their arrival or can receive the clocking record later; and whether you might need more than one monitoring system for different employees.

2: Make your investment count

Of course, there are cost-implications to take into account, too. For example, if you have staff who work for just a few hours a week at a particular location, you are unlikely to want to invest in a state-of-the-art visit tracking system based on smartphones or a biometric hand-scanner.

But just how do you work out which attendance monitoring hardware offers the best value for money? We always find it helps to decide where your main cost lies. If your workers are attending multiple sites on a regular basis, for example, it’s likely to be with the employees. But if you have a variety of staff making irregular visits to a single location, you should probably focus your investment on the site.

3: Keep an eye on the bigger picture

So you’ve found what looks to be your ideal attendance monitoring solution and it’s the right price – but are you sure it really meets your needs? What looks good on paper can sometimes be a let down in the field. For instance, can the system cope with more than one employee starting work at the same time? And what about ongoing costs? Have you got your clients’ permission to install terminals at their sites? And is the necessary infrastructure in place? It’s easy to overlook details like this when you have so much ground to cover.

The best approach is to look at what’s required from every point of view – your employees’, your clients’ and your own – before you make a decision. You may end up compromising on some details, but the system you choose has to work for everyone involved if it’s to be a success.

4: Big is not necessarily better

You may start off wanting an all-singing, all-dancing fully-integrated staff scheduling system with full payroll analysis and client invoicing functions, but experience shows that such complex, all-encompassing solutions are likely to prove a disappointment. Staff often have too little time or inclination to learn to use them properly and managers struggle to implement such a major project.

The issue of implementation is one that you need to keep in mind throughout the selection process. Sometimes starting smaller and developing your system as your needs change can be the most effective way forward. It’s easier to manage and, in an increasingly joined-up world, the best way to take advantage of future technology.

Posted by administrator in Clocking and employee attendance, Mobile worker tracking, Rota software, Scheduling software, Timesheets, 0 comments

Go anywhere device records staff attendance on the move

easyLog has come up with a clever way of using mobile technology to register staff attendance – without a mobile phone.

Our new ar-Log handheld tracker is a convenient, reliable and easy to use method of recording the visits of workers who attend multiple locations in the course of their employment.

When arriving or leaving a location, the employee simply switches on the handheld and then touches it against a coin-sized button containing a unique ID. This creates a clocking, which the device immediately tries to download. If it cannot get a good enough signal, the reading is stored, along with the date and time, until a signal is obtained and a download can take place.

How it works

The handheld device, which is about the size of a TV remote control, contains a mobile phone SIM card and uses the GPRS network to send packets of data to a web service located either on a customer server or an easyLog-hosted server. This data then appears as an employee clocking on the customer’s easyLog software, showing the relevant name, location, date and time.

Any data-enabled SIM card can be used in the device. easyLog can provide suitable SIM cards on contract or the customer can use SIMs purchased through their own mobile phone contract. The handheld uses rechargeable batteries and a charger is provided with each unit.

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Get the right biometric reader for staff clocking

Whenever easyLog is asked to supply a biometric reader for recording staff attendance hours we will only make one recommendation based on our current experiences – implement a hand scanner.

Installing a biometric time clock presents many advantages. It uniquely proves the attendance of each employee without any possibility of another member of staff clocking in on their behalf. A biometric reader needs minimal administration because there are no cards or tags to distribute among the workforce and it removes the possibility of staff being unable to record their attendance because they have forgotten their badge or tag. However, these advantages will be lost, and time could even be wasted in calculating staff hours, if the biometric recording device you choose is unreliable in its primary task of correctly recognising an employee first time and every time.

Until easyLog is presented with a fingerprint reader that identifies an employee every time then the following remain true:

1. A fingerprint reader is based on identification of the minute detail of an individual’s finger. A process that is fine for highly secure access control in a clean environment but not always appropriate for busy staff wanting purely to clock in and out.

2. A biometric reader must be compatible with the situation in which it is operating. If workers are consistently involved in a dirty environment, frequently immerse their hands in water or handle cleaning chemicals, for example, a fingerprint reader will always struggle to identify the employee.

3. If a biometric reader cannot identify an employee with 100 per cent reliability it causes doubt. This affords the employee with an excuse for not recording their attendance. The reader is entrusted with providing irrefutable proof of time and attendance and is therefore critically relied upon for the calculation of staff pay. It must work first time and every time.

Based on easyLog’s considerable experience of implementing biometric readers, the only reliable and value-for-money biometric reader at this present time is hand scanning. A hand scanner, appropriately for time and attendance, views the shape of the individual hand and verifies this against his or her record. Its reliability is not impaired by dirt, cuts, hand gels, subtle changes in hand size due to heat or cold or immersion in water. With only a routine weekly cleaning procedure it will carry on working consistently with any size of workforce.

easyLog has implemented hand scanners with all of its time and attendance, pay analysis and staff scheduling software modules. In all cases the reliability of the applications has been completely matched by that of the biometric reader.

easyLog is always reviewing its product offerings and will be very pleased to hear of user experiences of fingerprint readers that differ from our conclusions.

Posted by administrator in Clocking and employee attendance, Invoicing staff time, Mobile worker tracking, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Scheduling software, Timesheets, 0 comments

Cleaning company wipes out manual timesheets

Contract cleaning is a competitive business, so a product that can cut costs and help win new clients is a worthwhile investment. At least, that is the view of John Milton, managing director of Matrix Office Services, who was so impressed with his first easyLog staff attendance system that he keeps getting more.

Quality and reliability

Matrix, a growing company currently employing around 90 staff, is a specialist provider of contract cleaning services to shopping centres and blue chip organisations. But it was finding that larger sites, where 20 or more staff could be working at a time, were putting its administration systems under increasing pressure.

“We needed a more practical, automated solution to monitoring staff attendance and calculating payments,” explains John. “I also wanted to distinguish Matrix in the marketplace and show our clients how serious we are about quality and reliability.”

Attendance records at a glance – and no absenteeism!

When John read about easyLog’s GPRS-based staff attendance system he was immediately impressed. Employees record their date and time of attendance at any site by touching an identification tag against a terminal, which automatically sends the information back to the main office in real time using GPRS technology (like a SMS text, but cheaper). The attendance record is instantly read into the easyLog software, so you can see at any time who is at a client location.

The system was first used by around 18 cleaning staff at a shopping centre in theWest Midlands. It was originally implemented with easyLog’s a-Log software, which provides simple timesheet reporting for each employee across any date range.

“There was no staff absenteeism for the first three months,” says a delighted John.

This pattern has continued, with reduced absences one of the major benefits of the system. “The attendance record provides undisputable proof of an employee’s timekeeping so there are no arguments about whether someone was late or not. A supervisor can therefore approach conversations about attendance with clarity and certainty,” he adds.

The shopping centre management team was also impressed. “They saw that we are serious about our long term involvement and that we could produce accurate management reports for them on demand,” John explains.

Automated pay analysis

The company has subsequently upgraded to easyLog’s e-Log+S staff scheduling software, which compares staff attendance against the shift on the rota and automatically creates a payment record at the correct rates.

Matrix has also implemented one of easyLog’s battery-powered aB-Log terminals at aLondon site where access to mains electricity is difficult. Staff again use an identity tag to record their attendance, but the records are downloaded by a supervisor at the site each week using a data transfer stick and then passed into the scheduling software manually.

John praises the easyLog support team for its help in getting the systems operational. “They were willing to listen and provided the advice we needed at any time,” he says.

He concludes that his easyLog products were a very good investment. “I am now providing a better quality service with reduced costs from a workforce that consistently arrives on time. I proposed the easyLog system on our last two tender documents and won both. That’s the result I was looking for.”

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