Smartphone app

Clocking in with a QR code: cheaper than chips!

The business world emerging from the covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly be very different from the one that entered the crisis. It will be even more cost-conscious, given the additional overheads of making and keeping premises safe for employees and visitors, and staff will have a heightened awareness of hygiene, with frequently touched surfaces and equipment requiring regular and scheduled cleaning. Work is also likely to be more flexible in terms of where and when it is conducted, with split shifts and staggered start times – and, as a result, monitoring staff hours and calculating pay will be more complex and require greater input and control.

Smartphone attendance apps for the new normal

In line with our reputation for supplying low cost, robust and practical employee time management solutions, easyLog has ensured that its range of QR code-based attendance recording apps meet all the requirements of hard-pressed employers coming to terms with the new normal.

From just £20 per month plus VAT for a system covering up to 15 employees, staff can record attendance at a single or multiple sites using their own (or company-issued) smartphone and easyLog’s Location Clock App.

Simple to download from the major stores and install, the app automatically scans and recognises a QR Code that is defined per location. It converts this into an instant employee attendance record and sends this to the e-Log web browser-based software application supplied as part of the solution. This produces detailed or summarised timesheets across any period per employee and location, can deduct unpaid break periods and export any report into Excel for further analysis.

QR codes – the low-cost solution that covers all the bases

  • Low cost – just over £1 per month per employee for the cloud-based solution. easyLog provides software support as required, online training and daily backup. No up-front, one-off set up and training costs – everything you need is included in the monthly amount. The minimum contract length is nine months with one-month cancellation. Simple, clear and straightforward.
  • QR codes are free to generate and download from many websites. Your only cost is the paper and ink for printing.
  • Hygienic – employees use a smartphone which is always under their control, so there are no health concerns about multiple staff touching an attendance recording device and how clean and safe that unit remains.

For more information about attendance recording with QR codes, you can read this case study.

Find out more

easyLog offers a wide range of apps, attendance recording technologies and software. Talk to one of our team today on 01892 834406, request a callback using the form on the right or email us your enquiry.

Posted by administrator in Apple iPhone, Business support, Care home management, Cleaning management, Domiciliary care and supported living, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Invoicing staff time, Mobile worker tracking, Nursing home management, QR code and biometric clocking, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, Timesheets, 0 comments

New ways of working post lockdown: staff rotas

It is looking increasingly likely that social distancing and other protective measures are set to be the new normal for some time to come – in the workplace as well as public spaces. As a result, many employers are facing difficult decisions about keeping their business up and running while ensuring staff stay safe.

One of the changes that many are considering is staggering staff attendance so the two-metre rule can be maintained – which in most cases means setting up a staff rota. For first-timers, this can be a daunting task.

With the help of purpose-built rota software, however, even the most complex working arrangements can be managed quickly and easily, leaving managers more time to deal with other tasks.

A rota is all about balance…

Setting a rota is essentially a balance between the cover you need and employee availability. It sounds simple – but when you throw in issues such as holiday entitlement, part-timers, unexpected absences, different pay grades, TUPE terms, public holidays, TOIL, flexitime and so on, it is far from straightforward.

Our scheduling software allows users to deal with all these situations and more at the touch of a button. It also allows employees’ regular hours to be stored on a rolling rota so there is no need to keep re-inputting data. And when there are gaps to be filled, the software can filter employees via criteria that determine their rate of pay, such as training, qualifications and seniority, so you can be sure of staying within budget.

Sharing shift info? There’s an app for that

Sharing shift information quickly and reliably is a key element of a smooth running rota. With our smartphone apps, shift details can be sent direct to employees’ phones as soon as the rota is set. They can also use the app to confirm their shifts and other related tasks, such as managing leave and expenses.

We can even supply smartphone or tablet-based clocking apps to keep an accurate record of attendance if required.

Find out more…

For more information about our rota software, or any other attendance management solutions, speak to one of our team.

Posted by administrator in Business support, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, 0 comments

Keeping staff safe by maintaining attendance device hygiene

 

One of the side-effects of the coronavirus pandemic is that we have all become much more aware of hygiene procedures, with government advice on hand washing and disinfecting surfaces with increased regularity becoming embedded in the routine of our daily lives.

This has caused our clients to consider the most effective way of cleaning their attendance recording hardware and so address employee concerns about the frequency with which this equipment is touched by multiple people.

Regular hand-washing is more important than ever

Like any hard surface – whether it be a door handle, desk or computer keyboard – germs can survive for a varying period of up to 72 hours after contact (source: www.gov.uk). We therefore recommend cleaning your clocking equipment more frequently using the usual recommended method while also encouraging employees to follow the government’s advice on washing their hands more often and for a minimum period of 20 seconds.

How technology can make staff clocking more hygienic

Before the current pandemic, a quick visual check or once weekly clean would have satisfied most staff that the contact they had with items in their work environment was perfectly safe. Understandably that view has changed and may well continue even after the threat from Covid 19 has been seen to pass.

In the belief that attitudes may fundamentally change on hygiene in the workplace, we have been asked by clients if options exist for equipment that requires no contact by the employee.

In short, there is no attendance hardware used by multiple staff that enables zero contact from the user. As a minimum, the employee will need to enter the in or out direction of their record. A face recognition terminal provides the facility to stand away from the hardware and thereby minimise contact with it while also offering the advantage of unique biometric recognition. A tablet running one of easyLog’s attendance apps will still require an employee to touch it but provides a flat surface that makes the cleaning process simple and efficient.

Our smartphone app means users do not have to share equipment

If staff members each possess a smartphone, easyLog offers options with easily downloadable apps that allow reliable and accurate attendance recording without recourse to equipment used by others. Of course, the practicality of this will depend on the workforce, the numbers involved and layout of the entrance area and specific clocking location.

These are all options that easyLog is happy to discuss now or in the post-pandemic, and probably more hygiene-conscious, world into which businesses will emerge. Until that time, please stay safe.

Posted by administrator in Care home management, Cleaning management, Domiciliary care and supported living, Employee attendance, Nursing home management, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, 0 comments

Reconciling the risk and reward of cleaners’ flexible hours

male cleaner working in an office corridor

If you offer your cleaners the option of choosing when they work at client sites you will know that this involves both risk and reward. Employees who have greater freedom to fit their work commitments around their personal lives are likely to reward you by being more reliable, loyal and motivated. On the other hand, you run a bigger risk of work not being delivered within the hours specified in your client contract – which means spending more of your time monitoring when and where work has been delivered. There is a way to reconcile these two apparently conflicting aspects of flexible working, however: easyLog’s +Sb staff scheduling software.

At easyLog we have a growing group of cleaning company customers using our staff scheduling systems. Listening to them, we have added functionality that delivers ease of use with the detailed monitoring and reporting efficiencies they require – and at a sensible price that they have been unable to find elsewhere. Starting from £60 plus VAT per month for up to 25 cleaners, our +Sb scheduling solution provides a phone-based attendance recording app for each cleaner, scheduling functionality, pay analysis and reporting software on a managed cloud platform with daily backup, on-line training and telephone support – a complete solution, all developed and provided within the UK.

So, how does this all work?

Cleaners download an app from the Play or Apple stores and enter a code that automatically sets up their phones to link with the scheduling and reporting software that you use. They then go to a site, open the app and scan a QR code that you have printed and placed at each location to uniquely identify it. QR codes are generated for free on the internet. The employee does the same again when they leave the client’s site. These attendance records are automatically transferred into the software and compared in real time against the schedule of work on the staff rota. You can define if you require on-screen alerts or emails generated if a cleaner has not arrived. Similarly, the cleaner has a panic button on the app to create an alert if they have a problem.

Greater efficiency and control

If the cleaner has worked for the agreed period within the defined time bands then there is no further action to take – those hours will be passed into the Pay Report and analysed to the correct pay rate. An Authorisation routine highlights per cleaner any hours where the required cleaning period has not been met. Settings in the software allow the user to define any permitted leeway if attendance is shorter than the period defined, for example no tolerance or up to five minutes. The parameters can also draw attention to where extra time has been spent at the site thereby flagging the possibility of additional client charges and payment for the employee.

Analysed pay reports can then be produced across any period with hours broken down by the different pay bands that may apply for working during weekdays, weekends, bank holidays and so on. There is then the option to export the finished report into a third party payroll product, such as Sage, creating yet more efficiency in the process of producing employee payslips.

Explore further

If you would like to know more about what the easyLog+Sb solution could do for your cleaning business, please call us on 01892 834406, send us an email or visit the cleaning section of our website. You can also watch a video about managing flexishifts with our software.

Posted by administrator in Business support, Cleaning management, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Latest news, Mobile worker tracking, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, Timesheets, 0 comments

Manage holiday cover without losing your cool this summer

For most of us, summer is about sunshine, days out and getting away from it all for a week or two. But for employers it means more gaps in the rota to be filled and fewer staff willing and able to cover, plus additional complications when it comes to calculating pay. This is especially true of smaller employers and those in seasonal trades, who often find the holiday season the most stressful and exhausting time of the year.

Of course, scheduling software cannot take all the pressure out of summer staffing issues but chosen and used appropriately it can make life much simpler.

Dealing with the staff rota

The most pressing matter at holiday time has got to be ensuring you have enough people available at all times to keep your operation running smoothly. This is particularly challenging if your staffing requirements are variable at the best of times. But suitable rota software can really help – not only by alerting managers to potential gaps in the rota and providing suggestions for filling them but also allowing adjustments to be made quickly and easy, until the last minute if required.

easyLog rota software has in-built and optional features that take a lot of the stress out of managing holiday absences, no matter how complex your staffing levels. These include automatically checking that the necessary cover is available to meet your pre-defined staffing profile as soon as a leave request is submitted. Employees can also check their leave status and submit holiday requests directly to the software via their smartphones, freeing up admin time spent handling enquiries.

Calculating holiday pay

It is not just the rota that gets complicated in the holiday season – working out correct pay rates can cause a bit of a headache too. Among the issues you may need to take into account when calculating holiday pay are:

  • Staff who work variable roles, rates and/or shifts
  • Adjustments for overnights
  • Bank Holiday rates
  • Regular overtime – compulsory and voluntary
  • Routine out of hours work and on call shifts

easylog software can manage multiple pay rates, so calculating the correct rate of pay is simple. A Shift Analysis report, for example, automatically calculates an employee’s average pay per hour across any period. This can be used to determine the average hourly rate of the hours worked by casual and bank staff, for instance, and so the applicable pay rate for when they are on leave.

Managing leave requests

At this time of year, leave requests tend to come in thick and fast, often at short notice. And so time spent dealing with them also increases.

easylog rota software has a detailed holiday report that shows at a glance how much leave staff have already taken and what they have remaining. This is displayed in simple percentage terms, with a large negative percentage indicating they have a lot of holiday entitlement still to take and vice versa.

Employees can also use our rota app to check their holiday entitlement and book time off direct from their phones. The request goes directly to the main easylog rota software so admins can see at a glance if there will be cover available.

For more information on our rota and payroll reporting software and smartphone apps, please contact us or request a callback.

Posted by administrator in Business support, Care home management, Cleaning management, Domiciliary care and supported living, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Holiday pay, Nursing home management, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Timesheets, 0 comments

Soft landing for smaller businesses on the cloud

It is often said that the internet is a great equaliser and, for smaller companies, we are finding that very much to be the case. Thanks to the web high tech solutions are no longer the preserve of big companies with generous investment budgets – nowadays even micro companies operating on a shoestring can take advantage of sophisticated time and cost-saving technology.

One of the fastest growing options for our smaller customers is cloud-based services. The opportunity to run software via the internet, rather than on expensive real-world hardware, has made our staff scheduling and attendance management systems available to a whole new raft of customers who until fairly recently would not have considered it.

Replacing traditional hardware with smartphones

In particular, we are finding that cloud-based systems are proving popular with smaller companies that want to dispense with traditional hardware and connect to easyLog services from the outside world using smartphones instead.

The benefits are threefold:

  • There is no need to invest in infrastructure other than smartphones, which employers and staff usually already own
  • There is no software “footprint” – it does not have to be loaded onto a central desktop or laptop computer, although it can be if required
  • Browser-based services can be accessed anywhere, at any time – ideal for busy bosses who are constantly on the move

If you would like to find out more about our cloud-based services and how they can make your staff management more efficient, contact us or request a call back.

Posted by administrator in Employee attendance, Flexible working, Invoicing staff time, Mobile worker tracking, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, Timesheets, 0 comments

New Staff Portal app lets employees manage their shifts straight from their phones

sitting woman using a smartphone to check her rota shifts

If you already use our rota software, you will know how much easier it makes juggling the hours that your staff want with the shifts you need to fill. You may even be relying on an easyLog smartphone or tablet app to make rapid last minute adjustments to the rota when people call in sick or there is some other unexpected staffing issue.

To make your life even easier, we have now added a new weapon to your rota armoury – a smartphone app specifically for employees. Staff members download the easylog Staff Portal app directly from the Apple App Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store and, once logged in, can manage their shifts quickly and easily at any time, wherever they happen to be.

Employees can use the app to:

  • See their allocated shifts on a rota in advance
  • Confirm that they are happy with the shifts by accepting them
  • Look back at past shifts and clockings to check their hours
  • Submit expenses and upload photographs of receipts from their phone
  • Send messages to managers and request holiday

For managers, there is no need to send rotas out by e-mail or print off a paper version, saving valuable time. Managers also get a reliable record of an employee’s shift acceptance, which goes directly into the main rota software, along with related clockings.

The easylog Staff Portal app is suitable for a wide range of employers and working situations. To find out more about how it can make your rota management more efficient, please contact us. Read more about our rota and timesheet software here.

Posted by administrator in Apple iPhone, Business support, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Invoicing staff time, Latest news, Rota software, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, Timesheets, 0 comments

Can employees fool an app to falsify their attendance records?

In the second of our series of blogs about asking employees to record their attendance using an app on their smartphone, we consider what security features to look for to prevent the possibility of staff dishonestly covering up lateness.

It’s an interesting observation that employers implement time and attendance systems principally to deliver two results: first, administrative time savings through automated calculation of timesheets and pay analysis and second, to improve the accuracy of recording their employee’s attendance.

On that latter point, the ultimate guarantee to prevent an employee fraudulently falsifying their hours is to use a biometric reader that recognises an individual by a unique part of their body, such as fingerprint, face or hand. However, many of our clients have small numbers of staff working irregularly at a number of sites where it would be uneconomic to justify the capital cost of such equipment at each location. In these situations, the low-cost alternative is to ask the employees to use their own or company-issued smartphone to record their attendance at each site. But without biometric safeguards, how can you be certain that the time clocking was generated by the registered user of the phone? That’s where easyLog has consulted with its growing number of users and delivered a solution that gives the employer confidence that any attendance record has been generated by the identified person.

So how does our app prevent clocking fraud?

Firstly, the app is used with QR codes, the latest generation of barcode representation. Generated from free-to-use websites, they can be printed and assigned to each location to uniquely identify the specific site. When the app is used it accesses the camera of the smartphone and the employee simply moves their phone over the code until an image is captured to record the date, time and location. The app also records the GPS reference at the point the attendance record was made. This is significant if an employee should have thoughts that they could photocopy the QR code – and then record their attendance from the comfort of their bed for example – as it will automatically be brought to the attention of their employer!

Within the easyLog software, each location is defined with a unique reference (used by the QR code) and also has their GPS latitude and longitude coordinates entered against it. So if the QR code is scanned from somewhere different to its defined location, the easyLog software will know and flag accordingly with a link to Google Maps to identify the actual location of the errant clocking.

Software that can’t be fooled

Secondly, the app records the date and time that the attendance record is sent to the back-office timesheet management software application. This may not seem immediately significant but if the employee has changed the time on their smartphone – moving it backwards to avoid being flagged as late or forwards to falsely claim overtime – then this will be detected by the easyLog software.

Thirdly, when downloaded the app automatically creates a unique ID reference for the individual smartphone. Again, in an online world familiar with website cookies, this may seem like normal practice. However, it provides another preventive measure against the dishonest employee who may be tempted to help a colleague who is running late.

As mentioned earlier, each employee is given a unique number to identify that it is them using the app each time – and they enter this in the app when they first use it. So what if they change that number to use their smartphone to clock in on behalf of a colleague? The software automatically identifies the phone used for each attendance record from the unique ID reference so if it finds clockings from two different employees but with the same ID then it will be raised with their manager to take appropriate action.

Peace of mind for employers

We hope the anti-fraud measures that we’ve included in the app won’t actually require use but unfortunately rogue staff do exist. Most importantly perhaps, easyLog can give the employer the peace of mind that their workforce is recording their attendance accurately, easily and with certainty – and at a price that is economic for any size of organisation.

If you would like to know more about these features, other apps in our range and the time and attendance and staff scheduling modules with which they integrate, please call on 01892 834406 or send us an email.

Posted by administrator in Apple iPhone, Business support, Cleaning management, Domiciliary care and supported living, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Invoicing staff time, Mobile worker tracking, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Time and attendance, Timesheets, 0 comments

What’s important in choosing an attendance recording app for your staff?

In the first of two blogs about using a smartphone app for employees to record their attendance, we explore the key issues that experience has taught us you should look for.

There are three important questions to ask when introducing attendance recording via a smartphone app to your workforce:

  • Is the App easy to use for the employees?
  • Is the App easy to download with the connection to my time and attendance software already set up?
  • Is it secure and not open to fraud by the employee?

Users of our Log-In App know that they can confidently say “Yes” to all the above. easyLog has created not only a simple to install and use app for the employee, but a solution that gives the employer confidence that any attendance record has been generated by the identified person. This latter point we’ll cover in a subsequent blog but in this one we’ll address those first two questions.

Automatically updates back-office software

The Log-In App is downloaded free of charge for the employee from the Apple, Microsoft and Google stores. easyLog supplies a five-digit Customer Code number to each organisation that the employee is prompted to enter when first opening the app. This automatically sets up the parameters in the app to link it with the web browser-based back office software that collates and reports on the time and attendance records received from the smartphones.

Next the user is asked to enter their own unique ID number given to them by their employer. This is saved in the App and means it will not need to be remembered again at the point of use.

And that’s it. When the employee uses the app they are presented with large, clear buttons that they touch to record if they are arriving or leaving a site. There are other user-settable options also to enable the additional clocking in or out from a break and a panic alert feature that will automatically send an email to defined individuals on pressing.

If you would like to know more about these features, other apps in our range and the time and attendance and staff scheduling modules with which they integrate, please call on 01892 834406 or send us an email.

Posted by administrator in Apple iPhone, Employee attendance, Flexible working, Invoicing staff time, Mobile worker tracking, Payroll analysis, Rota software, Scheduling software, Smartphone app, Timesheets, 0 comments