Working in a hybrid model. Choose technologies which ensure safety and effective contact with employees
Recent months have brought huge and unexpected changes to the work organization in multiple companies and industrial enterprises. Many of them have implemented the hybrid model which allows to reduce the number of people working together in an office or a plant, thereby increasing the employee safety level. How does TIMATE support organizations which decide to use such solutions?
First of all, let’s talk about the hybrid model itself. The key principle is the rotation of employees which actually work on the company premises. When one part of the team is at the office, the others work from home. As a result, it is easier to maintain the required social distance.
The report published by Pracuj.pl says that 40% of Polish employees support this working model. They would like to come to the office at least once a week. 39% of responders want to return to the office on a regular basis, but with the option of remote work at least several times a month.
Of course, the home office option is not available to everyone. Blue-collar workers, production specialists and the majority of factory workers have to be at their work stations everyday. In this case, the employer should ensure appropriate sanitary conditions.
How can TIMATE help?
Home office. Communications and tasks
When a company implements the hybrid model, TIMATE can support the entrepreneur in the scope of both remote work and on-site operations. Our smart card functions as a platform for communication with the employer, when the employee works from home. First of all, the card displays tasks to be performed on the given day and allows to mark the time when the task is started and then the time when it is completed. Additionally, the card:
· Is a tool which confirms the task completion
· Reminds of the need to take a break
· Informs when the overtime starts
· Allows to notify of absence and provide the reason (e.g. sick leave or a business trip)
Working on-site. Safety and control
Surveys conducted among employees and entrepreneurs in recent months indicate that safety is now the top priority for both groups. TIMATE is a system which ensures safety, also when employees work on the company premises. How is this done? The TIMATE card supports the following functions among others:
· Contactless entry and exit via gates
· Temperature measuring sensors (upon the consent by the employee)
· OHS messages, e.g. reminding of the need to disinfect hands
· Active assistance in keeping the safe distance between employees
· Statistics preventing employees from gathering
· SOS button which allows to report violations of the OHS rules or situations when the employee feels unwell
At the present moment, we can assume that enterprises will not return to the regular on-site work in the nearest future. In many cases, they will choose the hybrid model of operation. Technologies such as TIMATE can provide effective assistance in this transition.
School during the pandemic. Chaos or an opportunity to digitalize education?
The beginning of the new school year in September will be different than ever before. Students and teachers will return to schools after an exceptionally long break. Also, the school environments will be completely new. Most probably, the rules of the sanitary regime will have to be followed in order to ensure the safety of students and the school personnel and protect them from COVID-19. It will be a challenge, that’s for sure, but there are ways to deal with it successfully. The good news is that technologies can help students and teachers to function effectively in the new realities.
At the moment, we are waiting for official guidelines regarding the school work organization after the summer break. It can be expected that, similarly to enterprises, educational facilities will need to introduce the following procedures: measuring temperature, disinfection of hands and surfaces, restriction of gatherings and social distancing.
Perhaps schools will organize breaks at different times for different classes so as to limit the number of students outside classrooms during breaks. Maybe some lessons will still be organized remotely. Regardless of which solutions will actually be implemented, technologies can help people comply with the new rules.
A student ID, a student grade record and SOS in one
Well aware of the new challenges in education, we collaborated with Euvic IT to adjust the TIMATE system to school environments. Our smart card can now function as a student’s or teacher’s digital ID, a student’s grade record, a lesson plan or a library card. Simultaneously, it will ensure students’ safety thanks to the SOS button which can be used to call help in the case of an accident, a dangerous event or bullying. The card will also assist in evacuations and will remind of the necessity to disinfect hands.
Our system does not collect biometric data of teachers and students. Outside the school premises, the card does not display the user’s photo and name. In contrast to smartphones, the card contains no games, social media functions or other applications that would distract students, but it allows to contact them and determine their location. Thus, it improves their safety.
What benefits does our card give to students and teachers?
- A lesson plan from Monday through Friday, a grade record (grades from the given day), daily homework for each subject, a library card
- Automatic checking of students’ attendance
- An identifier of each student (first and last name, class, photo) and his/her location in the school (floor, classroom)
- Measuring distances between students and between students and teachers
- Measuring students’ temperature
- The SOS function with one button (accidents, violence), fall detection, faints, loss of consciousness
- Monitoring the number of students during breaks (automatic scheduling of breaks for different classes)
- Messages (e.g. “Time to wash hands”)
- A lesson plan from Monday through Friday with classrooms
- A teacher’s identifier (first and last name, subject/function, photo), location in the school (floor, classroom)
- Automatic checking of teachers’ attendance
- Measuring distances between students and teachers
- Measuring teachers’ temperature
- The SOS function with one button (accidents, fire, other events), fall detection, faints, loss of consciousness
- The option to send information to the teacher’s card with a reply function
- Monitoring personal protection equipment (e.g. masks, visors)
Importantly, TIMATE can be integrated with other tools already used in schools, e.g. Librus and Vulcan. There is no need to abandon these technologies which have been supporting schools for a long time. They can be simply extended with new possibilities.
Though the situation is difficult, it seems that it can actually help in the digital transformation of schools. A new technologically advanced school is just around the corner. Let’s move in that direction!
How to overcome the crisis? Bet on the analysis of processes and employee safety
The global economy is facing a huge challenge. The general slowdown, the restricted flow of people and materials, and the frequent shut-down of manufacturing plants result in poor bottom lines and, in consequence, a crisis. But do the present circumstances get us into nothing but trouble? Not at all.
How should entrepreneurs react in the time of threat and downturn? Of course, there is no one rule of thumb which can be followed in each and every case. However, there are several guiding principles which can help companies survive the hard times and emerge from the crisis in a better shape.
First: stay calm
That’s what any entrepreneur should do first of all. Haphazard actions and panic are the worst enemies of business. Though the pandemic made companies face new, sometimes completely unprecedented situations, disorganized and arbitrary reactions will not help them keep their heads above water.
Second: look, analyse, eliminate
Another thing an entrepreneur should do is to analyse all processes happening in the company. Why? To check if resources are used in an optimized way and if there is any waste down the lines. For many companies which normally operate on the basis of automatic routines, a crisis is a good opportunity to take a closer look at how they actually function. Thus, they can detects areas and processes that need improvement. They can fix defects and reduce costs.
How can you analyse processes? Well, TIMATE is a useful tool for that. One of the modules in the solution can perform analyses of various collected data. Importantly, TIMATE also generates indicators. You don’t have to analyse your data on your own and then wonder what they actually mean.
The system does it for you. TIMATE can analyse data from various angles and combines them into a transparent whole that can be easily understood. In consequence, entrepreneurs get a clear insight into how their employees work, how they use their working time, if they are safe and where they are located. Based on such data, you can organize work more effectively, you can eliminate inefficient processes and you can ensure optimal management of resources.
Third: contain the threat
The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to employees’ health. A disease outbreak on the company premises often means you have to shut down all operations and go through the quarantine procedure. Such downtime generates losses.
However, this can be avoided. Again, TIMATE can be of assistance. Its functions allow the employer to remind the employees of the necessity to keep the distance and to wash or disinfect hands. The system can measure the employees’ temperature remotely and react when it exceeds a predefined level. Additionally, the smart card prevents larger groups of people from gathering at one location. If anyone gets ill, the location function will show the interactions of the infected person so as to decide who should be quarantined.
Another function useful in containing COVID-19 is the SOS button which normally serves to report accidents and dangerous situations. Under the new circumstances, an employee can press the button when he/she feels unwell or meets a potentially infected co-worker. A quick response in such situations, isolation of the ill person and immediate medical aid effectively contain the spread of the virus.
The economic slowdown affecting companies all around the globe does not have to result in losses and close-down. A calm and smart approach to the new situation, an analysis of the company’s operations, implementing optimization, a better use of resources and ensuring employee safety will bring short-term positive effects that will translate into long-term benefits in the future.
Analysis – the queen of business data
The general impression is that in recent years data have become the most popular topic of business discussions. We encounter data in various contexts nearly everywhere. Even though the process of collecting information is today taken for granted, the effective analysis of data that can lead to significant insights is another kettle of fish.
Let’s imagine the following situation. We monitor people working in our enterprise. The time and attendance system such as TIMATE provides us with information about the clock-in/out times, the amount of time which employees spend in particular rooms and the time they need to perform specific tasks. What can be actually concluded from such raw data, even if we take a closer look?
Not much. In fact, sometimes false conclusions can drawn on the basis of such data. For example, we check some information about two employees who unload pallets and we clearly see that one of them needs 20 minutes to get the job done, while the other performs the same task in 30 minutes.
Her Majesty Analysis
It is only an effective analysis of data from various angles, comparing diverse factors, will provide managers with true answers to questions regarding employee performance. In the example presented above, the analysis of the available information will reveal that the second employee is not at all lazy or less efficient, but he simply has to get the pallet from the other end of the factory. Meanwhile, the first employee collects and unloads the pallet at one location. In this case, it is extremely important to take into account the correlation between the time of the task performance and the distances covered by the particular employees.
What can we do with such information? A lot. We have learned that the different amounts of time that the two employees need perform the same task do not result from inefficiency or sluggishness of the second worker. In fact, the manager is to blame for poor and ineffective organization of processes. It is now sufficient to implement several improvements to optimize the processes and increase the company’s effectiveness. Only data transformed into knowledge can provide actual solutions.
The key to understand employees.
Unfortunately, managers often have no time to observe how people in their team actually work. In consequence, they frequently do not understand how their employees work. They compare results, but fail to seek the underlying causes.
However, it can be changed by the analysis of work-related data and its various aspects such as time, place, temperature in the room etc. This detailed insight into the processes can lead to the effective optimization of all operations in the company. Importantly, it also allows to assess employees fairly, to appreciate their commitment, to improve working conditions and to engage in motivational talks.
A solution that meets today’s needs.
Until recently there have been no tools that would enable the collection of specific information related to the use of the working time and its analysis in different configurations. TIMATE is a game-changer, since it can analyse data from various angles and combines them into a transparent whole that can be easily understood.
The system consists of several modules, including the module which analysis the use of the working time. It can quickly and easily respond to inquiries about what the employees are doing, whether they are safe and where they are currently working. The employer can use the collected data for comparisons in order to develop individual working standards and to optimize operations.
Only data analysis and the right tools such as TIMATE can provide entrepreneurs with information about how the employees actually work and which changes are necessary to streamline processes in the organization and thus to boost its competitive edge.
Less is more: use technology to chase away the post-holiday spleen
The sense of detachment from reality, problems with concentration and the longing for carefree days – this is how you feel when you get back to work after holiday. It is really hard to avoid the post-holiday spleen, especially if we think that eight hours will be enough time to make some order out of this chaos. How to regain control over our professional life and find a way to get some rest… at work? It turns out that new technologies designed in line with the slow life principles might be helpful here.
Technology for health
Quick, colourful and in line with the newest trends: that’s our fast food kind of life today. In this mad rush, we lose our precious health, our identity and the sense of what is ethical. In the era of all-encompassing technology, it is hard for us to get away from the virtual world full of pressure and unattainable ideals, which is destructive to our self-esteem and our motivation to work. On top of all that, all the imminent deadlines, rising performance indicators and new important projects coming along the way do not make the situation any better. Where, in all this, do we find time for the rest that we deserve?
Unfortunately, even the best holiday will not make our reserves of rest last very long. When you enjoy the holiday time, your organism functions in a completely different way and you need at least several days to get back in the saddle and return to the effective task performance mode. Moreover, the autumn season does not help and if you strain yourself too much to get all the overdue things done, your health might be in danger. First of all, when you return to work after holiday, remember about the breaks. This can be difficult, especially for people who tend to dive deep into the work at hand. For all those who keep forgetting, there is a technology that will remind them of the lunch they need or signal another hour of overtime they work.
On the one hand, Time and Attendance (TNA) systems have become popular in recent years, while on the other hand, the available solutions do not make it possible for the employee to monitor the time worked. We have designed a device that counts the hours and overtime at work, allowing both the employer and the employee to view the statistics. Moreover, the system also takes the work safety into account and sends reminders about breaks, says Tomasz Łempiński, CTO at TIMATE, the company designing and manufacturing the ethical TNA system.
Why measure the working time?
TNA systems can now be found in many businesses and their main task is to measure the hours worked by employees. Usually, they are based on the clock-in/clock-out procedure with the use of an access card or a fingerprint reader. It is obvious that such a system gives the employers the information they need, but it can be cumbersome for the employees. It doesn’t have to be like that: this process can now function in an automatic and unattended way, giving both the employers and the employees the same level of access to all information related to time and attendance at work.
What’s the smart trick about TIMATE? All you need to do is carry around an ID card that is recording your time at work. At first glance, it looks like the standard system using the common access card, but in fact it is an electronic, fully automated device which eliminates the routine (and unnecessary!) recording procedures, says Tomasz Łempiński from TIMATE. What is more, when you put this device against the screen of your smartphone, you can read all the information about the hours you have worked.
This mechanism resembles training systems, wearables and smartwatches that function the same way, only they collect different types of data (e.g. workout time and intensity). The similarities can also be seen in the analysed data visualisation through clear charts which allow to assess the work quality within particular time intervals. This solution can be helpful in coping with the post-holiday stress, since the card gives us an intuitive control over our time at work, so we can take better care of our health and well-being.
TIMATE is a personal health assistant: the card will select the break format based on the type of work that we do. It is very simple: the system analyses data from the motion sensors and recognizes the style of work in order to suggest e.g. a lunch break, some exercise or taking a rest after physical exertion. Moreover, the smart card can also save you from catching a cold by providing current information about the weather conditions, explains Tomasz Łempiński.
Keep the balance
When we get back to work after holiday, we have no other choice but to catch up on all the stuff that needs to be done. We often get down to this business very chaotically, still remembering the great time we had and the sunny beach. We try to get things done as quickly as possible. This is not effective at all and it can also be bad for your health. What if you stop obsessing about the things you need to catch up on and simply listen to your electronic assistant? Well, TIMATE makes it possible.
The whole system is based on the slow work principle which combines a conscious ritual of work with reasonable time management. The card enables flexible adjustment of tasks to the employee’s current health condition. So if you feel more tired than usual, you can ask your employer to give you more freedom in organizing the work schedule, since the statistics provided by TIMATE show you the number of hours you can use. Such an ongoing control allows to avoid post-holiday overworking and is crucial for eliminating the stress caused by the excessive number of tasks and duties at work.
What inspired us to create TIMATE was the lack of solutions that would benefit both the employers and the employees. Our card has no direct Internet access and it does not enable GPS installation. It uses a statistical analysis of motion measured by the sensor built into the employee ID without collecting any personal data. It is a fair win-win solution that gives measurable benefits to both sides, says Tomasz Łempiński from TIMATE.
Time will tell if the slow work technology can actually help to reduce stress at work. Right now one thing is for sure: regardless of the TNA system used by the employer, always remember about your breaks and find the time to leave aside all worries, tasks, deadlines and projects, at least for 15 minutes. It is equally significant to keep the right balance between life and work. The autumn is coming, so brace yourself and get the rest you need every day to effectively avoid the post-holiday spleen and crisis. And remember: even the best technology will not force you to take proper care of your health: that is solely your responsibility. So before you work overtime again, without even a short moment for regeneration, ask yourself: is it worth it?
We don’t want to live in a science fiction world!
A routine examination in a corporate doctor’s office. A nice physician gives you a container with a tasty liquid which has an undetectable micro-sensor hidden in it. After you swallow the preparation, it starts working and the monitor shows numerous charts, diagrams and figures describing nearly all aspects of your health condition. Heartbeat? Hydration? Blood analysis? There you go! In the recent film by James Ponsoldt titled The Circle, this is the vision of the healthcare system in the biggest corporation in the world. A bit scary, isn’t it?
In the trap of benefits
Thanks to the microchip implant we can get access to the rooms on the company premises and we will start a printer or log into the company computer with just one gesture. Though such activities do not require any special skills, this new technology will win over everyone who is fed up with numerous passwords and access codes by allowing to forget all of them thanks to a convenient and automatic under-skin implant. Benefits to the employer include full monitoring of the employees’ working time and each operation they perform with the use of the micro-device. But that’s not all.
Employees with implants can pay for their dinner with a simple movement of the hand. This is just a beginning, since the technology will surely develop and the changes will be broader and bolder. Is the futurist vision of a society where each person is subject to a complete control by the state still just a good idea for a science-fiction storyline? That is doubtful, since those who will queue up for the new technology will be not only large corporations, but also governments. Information collected by internal sensors can become a virtually irresistible temptation.
Keep calm and find the balance
Are companies that stand against advanced biometrics condemned to digital exclusion? This question inspired us to seek a technology that would be compliant with the employee personal data protection. That is how we created TIMATE, an answer to the immediate needs of the contemporary world of business.
This device solves several problems related to the record-keeping of time and attendance. First of all, it ensures a control that is, importantly, mutual. What does it mean? On the one hand, the working time data are collected by an intelligent card and transferred via the cloud system to the employer; on the other hand, the ePaper display in the card allows the employees to access the data as well. Secondly, TIMATE gives you the freedom to switch off the control at any time. This is different from the under-skin microchips which are difficult to remove and cause problems when you start a new job. With TIMATE all you have to do is take off the identifier and put it away.
Our main drive was to find a compromise between the necessity to record time and attendance (TNA), the priority of the employee safety and the effective use of new technologies allowing for the automated control. It took us several years to design such a system. Fortunately, it was worth it, since our R&D efforts resulted in a product that completely redefines the concept of TNA systems and is radically different than the microchip implant solution.
It could be said that our invention is a practical alternative to the roller coaster of total control and we have designed to for the benefit of the society, not against it. It functions by analysing the human motion, but it’s not the motion of one individual. It detects the similarities of the card motion in the system to the cards of other users as well as the motion intensity over time. How is this done? Thanks to the built-in sensor. The key advantage is that the motion data collected by the card cannot be directly used to identify the card’s owner. As a result, no sensitive information is gathered and the personal data protection regulations are not violated, which is not the case with biometric systems.
Each of us would like to become a hero in a science-fiction thriller for a while, but living in such a world is a completely different matter. Benefits resulting from the implanted microchip quickly lose their value if we set them against the threats of such an advanced surveillance. What do you think? Can the ethical TNA system stand a chance against the ethically and legally dubious biometrics?
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