5 strategies to cope with WFH

WFH strategies

For a lot of us, we’ve now spent over half a year working from home. I think a lot of us started down this path with if not excitement, at least a sense of relief. The benefits of WFH are self-evident: spend more time with your family, save on commute time and costs, work from the comfort of your home in comfortable clothes, and schedule your day’s work according to what is most comfortable for you.

But has the reality of working from home been as effective as the benefits we thought would accrue? The ongoing COVID19 pandemic seems to be continuing much longer than expected with no clear end-dates in sight. Many companies have decided to extend WFH; some till the end of 2020, and many until mid-2021. We’ve even heard of companies that have decided to give up on office space completely and have employees working from home indefinitely. They’ve decided on weekly/monthly all-hands meetings at co-working locations. While there are major benefits to WFH, there are significant drawbacks too. 

Remote working problems
Remote working problems

And the biggest of those drawbacks are feelings of isolation and loneliness. These feelings are not restricted to people who’ve started working remotely during the pandemic. It affects people who have worked from home for years, either full-time or part-time. This data from Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 report that 20% of remote workers suffer from loneliness and another 20% report issues with collaboration and communication. And an almost similar percentage (18), complain of “Not being able to unplug” from work.  And these numbers are aggravated with more people working from home because of the pandemic.

Signs of loneliness

Perhaps you are feeling isolated and lonely or perhaps someone on your team is. The signs aren’t always easy to spot. These could include feeling like you don’t belong, that your work is not appreciated, that you are not understood. These kinds of feelings can cause people to become less productive at work, to lash out at meetings or withdraw from group activities. With the pandemic and social distancing guidelines still in place, it’s natural for people to long for experiences that we just can’t have in the near future. 

Why is it becoming more common?

Most obviously, it is because more people are working from home. And have fewer chances to go out and have normal social experiences. Burnout is another big issue. When you go “out” to work, there is a definite separation between work and personal life. But when you are working remotely from your kitchen or dining table all day, that separation is lost. One outcome is that people are now working longer hours. Counter-intuitively, without the  routine of going to and from work, it becomes harder to maintain work-life balance. 🙂

Tips for coping with working remotely

If you work as a manager of a team, then you really need to do double duty. Handling the issues of remote work for yourself and helping others on your team manage remote working issues. The remainder of this article covers both you as yourself and as a manager.

The big thing to remember is that there is no single way that works for everyone. Each person needs to do what is right for them. So here goes:

Tip # 1: Have a set routine

Home work space
Home work space

Set up a routine and practices that help re-create the structure that you’re normally used to. So start work at the same time everyday. If you have a workspace within your home, that automatically gives you a separation between work and personal space. If it helps, set up a 2-minute walk around the house, before you get in to work mode. That “commute” helps to set up context in your mind. If being properly dressed, helps you get into “work” mode, then definitely get dressed in work clothes.

One of the things that we’ve found useful is to have a quick team meeting every morning on Google Meet. That’s when we discuss things that need to get done during the day, any urgent customer issues that need to be solved and so on. But it also gives everyone a sense of structure to the day. And to make sure that we get together with the team at least once each day.

Make sure that you set up coffee break times and lunch breaks. If possible, use your break times to chat informally with colleagues. Or if it makes sense, use that time to catch up with what’s going on at home.

Using a time tracker like Time Tracker for Salesforce, can give you a great understanding of how your people are spending their time. If people are not taking enough breaks, or working too many hours, you’ll see that easily from the Time Tracker reports. That will help you identify and address those issues, before they become major problems.

Tip # 2: Balance your schedule for the day

Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

The biggest perk of working remotely or WFH is the freedom and flexibility that it gives you to plan your day and work according to it. Not everyone is a 9-to-5 person. Schedule your work day and tasks, based on your own energy levels and interests. If early morning is your best, most interruption-free time and you are at your brightest, then schedule your most intense/creative/analytical work for that time. If afternoons are when you are most tired, then take a break at that time. Get some rest or do something else that you enjoy then. One of the best things about working from home is that you get to spend time with your family and kids. If you want to be available for play time with your kids, then schedule your work time around that.

Most importantly, keep your colleagues aware of your work times, so that they know when they can get ahold of you. Make sure that you schedule in group meetings and calls in to your day, but schedule the rest of your day around things that you may need to do. If you are a team leader or manager, empower your team members to set their own schedules and work your assignments around them.

At the beginning of the lockdown, many people set goals for weight loss, getting into better shape and so on. If you are sticking with those plans, more power to you. If you’ve been losing steam, then break into smaller activity chunks.

  • Do some simple exercises at your desk
  • Run up and down the stairs before your coffee breaks
  • Walk around when you are on calls
  • Make sure that you stand up and stretch at least every 2 hours.

Tip # 3: Stay in touch virtually

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Get a bunch of your work colleagues together and join an online Pilates/Zumba/exercise/yoga class via Zoom. If you or one of you colleagues can run the class, that’s even better. if you can get your company to agree to it, perhaps you can set this up as a regular work task for your team. If not, at least make sure that your team members get some time for informal catch up and exercise. Schedule a common walking time with a friend, and speak with them as you walk. Great way to multi-task and keep in touch. :).

Set up a regularly scheduled call where members from different teams can talk about what they’ve been working on. This is a great way to replicate those water cooler / lunch room discussions that played a great role amongst teams. Set up a “brainstorming” meeting schedule, when team members can bring up technical issues/problems that they need help with. Encourage other members to provide solutions, so that individuals can get over those issues.

Organize a weekly trivia quiz for your teams. Even include a small prize for the winner to make it more competitive. Have simple games that you can play on an online Zoom / Google Meets call. Organize a team lunch. Have food delivered to your team members and set up an online call where everyone can eat and chat online. This is something that I’ve seen an aunt’s Rotary Club group use to fantastic effect.

Tip # 4: Schedule time and stay in touch

Keep in touch virtually

When you are in the office, chances for communication are constant. You lean over and speak to someone at the next desk, you meet people in the elevator and in the lobby, in the break room, even in the rest room. You go out for lunch with your team, you walk with co-workers during your lunch break. The chances for conversation are endless. These conversations and interactions play a crucial part in building a sense of belonging and camaraderie. So how can you do this when you are working remotely?

If you know your colleague welcomes impromptu calls, then call them up when you think of them. But with most people juggling multiple responsibilities, you’re better off scheduling a specific time for these calls. These calls don’t have to have a specific reason. They are just for catch up and keeping in touch. You get updates on what your colleague is working on but also what’s going on in their lives. If you regularly walked with a co-worker, then perhaps you can schedule a time when you walk and talk with them. Whenever possible, try a video chat. There’s something to be said for actually seeing a person. The connect is always better. And as everyone grapples with issues of loneliness while working from home, these catch-up sessions can be invaluable.

Tip #5: Learn something new

If you’ve ignored your interests and hobbies because you’ve been too busy, this is a great time to start / re-start on them. Put the time that you would otherwise use for commuting to good use. Whether it’s to learn a new language, learn an instrument, start to bake, learn financial planning or a new cuisine, there are plenty of online classes to choose from, for whatever your interest may be. So if you are looking for something new, go ahead and start right away. This is something that will stay with you, whether you continue to work from home or you get back into the office. If you need additional encouragement, a great way is to get together with a group of friends and challenge yourselves to achieve something specific every week. If you don’t have too much time available, then do it in small steps. Don’t sign up for expensive classes, but look for free lessons on Youtube. Do as much as you can. If you like to write, keep a journal. Or start a blog and post your thoughts, poetry. Share your achievements with your friends for a quick high.

Key Conclusions

There is still no clear time frame on when work from home will end. It looks like a lot of us will continue this for the next few months, perhaps until mid-2021. So we need to make sure that we can work from home successfully and deal with loneliness issues. The good news is that it’s POSSIBLE! It needs some effort and conscious thought, though. Both organizations and individuals need to put in effort to make remote working successful.

Follow some simple steps, like a daily routine, regular formal and informal contact with colleagues and friends, scheduling our work day around our energy levels and other commitments. All of these will enable us to tackle work from home with fewer issues and be more productive at work.

If you’ve found some specific ways to cope with work from home, do share it with us. We’d love to hear from you.

10 ways to track time! Part 2

Good to see you back. In Part 1 of this blog, we explored the four ways in which you can track time inside Salesforce. Today, we’ll move on and explore how you can track time on the web and on the Time Tracker mobile app. Remember that in all these cases, all your time tracking data is still safely within Salesforce.One other thing to remember is that users who use the Time Tracker on the mobile or on the web, do NOT need to be Salesforce users.

On the Web
There’s two ways to track time on the Time Tracker Web app. You can track time by checking in time for multiple tasks/activities or you can use a timer that you can Start/Stop as you do your work.

Check In/Out: Checking In/Out on the Time Tracker web page means that you are Starting / Ending a timer as you work on a Project / Task (or whatever has been configured for you). You do this by selecting

Check in Timer on the Web
Check in Timer on the Web

the Check-in button on the top right hand corner of your screen when you login to the Time Tracker Web. You simply select the Project / Task that you are working on. Key in any notes that you want your manager/supervisor to see and click on the Check-in button. This option tracks time as you are working on a Project/Task. When you are done working, click on the Check-Out Now button, if you want to Check out at the current time. If you forgot to Check-Out at the time that you actually finished your work, you can put in the actual hours and minutes that you worked on the task and click on the Checkout button. This will work as long as the Check-in time plus Hours Worked is less than the Current Time.

Multi Check In: Use the multi check-in option, when you want to add timesheet entries for Project / Task that you worked on each day from

Multi line timesheet entry on the Web
Multi line timesheet entry on the Web

the drop downs, Add any information that you need on the additional fields configured for you. Fill in the Start and End times for the activities that you worked on. You can enter up to 10 different activities on this screen. When you are done, click on the Submit button. If you have more activities that you need to add in, you can do so.

A Manager/Supervisor can also Approve / Reject timesheet entries put in by people that report to her.

Time Approval on the web
Time Approval on the web

On the Time Tracker Mobile app

The Time Tracker mobile app works on both iOS and Android devices.There are four different ways that you can track time on the mobile app. Checking in/out as you work on an activity OR manual entry after you’ve completed the activity. We also have a Kiosk mode that you can use as a replacement for a punch clock. This is really useful in a factory/warehouse/office setting where you want all your employees to Clock In and Clock Out as they start and end their work for the day The Time Tracker Team mode allows a Team Lead/Supervisor to Clock In/Out individual team members and then Check In all Clocked in team members.

Check In / Out: As in the other cases, Check In/Out means that you are starting a

Check in on the mobile
Check in on the mobile

timer for work that you are currently working on. There are two ways that this works. If you are set up as an Individual User, you can check in/out of Projects / Tasks on your mobile device. This is a good option for Exempt employees who need to track time for billing/invoicing. If you are set up as a Personal User, you can clock in at the Start of your work day and Check In/Out of multiple Projects/Tasks with different check-in types. Some check-in types that our customers currently use include options for Job, Travel, Loading, Cleanup, etc. This option is good for non-Exempt employees for whom you need to track hours and breaks for payroll purposes. On the mobile, you can configure the app to collect GPS locations at specific transactions. Users can also take pictures at the jobsite and add them in.Users on the mobile can get notifications, when they are assigned a project or when anything changes on their projects.

Manual Entry on the mobile: Sometimes, you may want to enter your time

Manual Time Entry - Mobile
Manual Time Entry – Mobile

details after the actual work is done. You may have forgotten to enter the time, your phone could have been out of charge or perhaps you left your phone at home, Whatever the reason, you may not have been able to Start/Stop the timer as you worked. In such a case, you do have the ability to add the Project / Task that you worked on along with the Start and End Times for the work done. You can add multiple manual entries. You could use this mode of timesheet entry, if you are adding all of your timesheets after completing the work. In general, we suggest that you do this at the end of the day, so you don’t forget things that you have worked on.

Team Mode check ins for entire team

In the Team mode, only the Team Lead needs to have the Time Tracker on his/her mobile phone. The Time Tracker configuration in Salesforce lets you set up Teams with a Team Lead. When you set up Users in Salesforce, you can assign

Team Mode options
Team Mode options

them to specific teams.

When the Team Lead of a specific team logs in, she sees the names of all the people on her team. The Team Lead can Clock In each member of the Team as they arrive for work. When the Team Lead clicks on the Start Job, Start Travel or Start Loading buttons, all Clocked in Team Members are checked into the Selected Project and Task for that Check in type. When the Team Lead clicks on Stop on the previously Started Check in type, all checked in Team Members are automatically checked out of that Project / Task. This is a great option for teams working together on Construction/Landscaping/Installation type of work. GPS locations and photos can be configured to be collected at the jobsite.

Team members can be transferred between teams for better utilization. A Team Lead can Release a Team Member from her team, if needed. Another Team Lead can “Add” the released Team member to their team, as needed.

Kiosk mode Check In / Clock In

The Kiosk mode can be used in a factory/warehouse/office to replace the

Kiosk Check in and Clock in
Kiosk Check in and Clock in

traditional punch card / bio metric time clock. With the Time Tracker in the Kiosk mode, the big advantage is that all time tracking data is in Salesforce and can therefore be used for analysis. Depending on how your Users are set up in the configuration, Users may be able to Check In/Out OR Clock In and then Check In/Out of individual projects. We suggest using an iPad or an Android tablet for the Kiosk. Since multiple people will need to use the same device. The app works just as well on a phone, but the larger format is useful, when you need multiple people to access the device.

So that covers all ten ways of tracking time using the Time Tracker for Salesforce. Whether you want to track time in Salesforce on a web app or on a mobile device, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a solution as configurable and as user-friendly as our Time Tracker for Salesforce.

 

 

10 ways to track time! Part 1

Failed multi-tasking

Yesterday, we had a long and interesting demo of the Time Tracker with a fairly large group of people at a new prospect. During the demo, one of the people commented “So you have four different ways of tracking time inside Salesforce”. It struck me that I had never thought about it that way. Perhaps, when you work with the product every day, you gloss over some of these facts.

In any case, this morning, I decided that I’d make a list of all the ways

10 ways to track time
10 ways to track time

that you could track time with the Time Tracker. It turns out that there are 10 different ways in which you can track time with the Time Tracker for Salesforce. See my list here on the right. That’s 4 ways within Salesforce, 4 ways on mobile devices and 2 ways on the Time Tracker web app. Pretty cool, huh?

Based on my list, here’s a short description of each of the ways of time tracking and where you could use it.

Within Salesforce

Within Salesforce, you can track time by Check-in, checking in time for multiple tasks using the Multi Check-in, tracking time automatically to specific Salesforce whenever you are on that record in Salesforce and manually entering the time for a specific task when you are on that record.

Check in: Checking in to work within Salesforce means that you

Check In/Out in Salesforce
Check In/Out in Salesforce

are tracking time to a specific project/task (or whatever has been configured for you). You do this by selecting the Track Time button on the Salesforce Utility Bar. Clicking on the button, pops up a configured window that lets you choose your Project/Task from drop-downs. You can also enter in any notes that you may have. In this case, you are tracking time for an activity as you work on it. So you Check in when you Start on the activity and Check out when you are done.

Multi Checkin: Use the Multi Check in option when you want to

Multi checkin in Salesforce
Multi checkin in Salesforce

add multiple activities in a time-sheet format. You may choose to add in all your activities for the day at the end of the day or maybe at the end of the week. We suggest doing this on a daily basis, because chances are you’ll have forgotten something important that you did on Tuesday by the end of the week. 🙂 You select the Project / Task / Worktype fields from drop-downs. Fill in the Start and End times or the number of hours that you worked on each activity. By default, you’ll see 5 lines on this screen. Once you click on the Submit button, you can add your next set of activities.

Automatic Time Tracking: This is a great way to track time for

Automatic time tracking in Salesforce
Automatic time tracking in Salesforce

people who spend most of their time inside Salesforce. You do NOT need to Start / Stop a timer like you do with the Check in process. Every time you go to records in Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Cases or any other Salesforce object, an Automatic Timer starts right away. It keeps tracking time until you move away from that record. If you move to another Opportunity, the Auto Timer starts tracking time to the new Opportunity. The Auto Timer can be added to all the objects that you want to be able to track time to.

Single record time tracking: This feature again allows you to easily

Single time tracking in Salesforce
Single time tracking in Salesforce

track time to specific records in Salesforce. But it’s meant for use when you do NOT want time to be tracked automatically. This is meant for users who want to be able to track time to specific Accounts, Opportunities, Cases. But if the users work primarily outside Salesforce using other tools like AutoCAD, drafting and design tools, then this is a great way to track time. These users can go to the specific record where they want to add their time to. A Salesforce component allows you to add the task and the time that you spent on the activity; while the main Opportunity / Case is automatically selected.

So that’s 4 ways to track time just inside Salesforce. Checkin, Multi Checkin, Automatic Time Tracking and Single record time tracking.

Phew! that was a lot. Next week, we’ll talk about the different ways of tracking time on the Web and on the Time Tracker mobile app. Until then, auf wiedersehen!

Automatic Meal and Rest Breaks – An Employer’s Guide

Breaks

Breaks
Image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

Different forms of rest breaks are important for your employees’ physical and mental well-being. When structured properly, they can have a positive impact on health and safety and also improve the productivity in your workplace.

Workday Breaks 

Breaks during the workday allow employees to rest during the workday. They could be in the form of rest breaks, coffee breaks and meal breaks.

Meal and Rest Breaks
Meal and Rest Breaks

Most national and EU regulations require specific breaks based on the number of hours worked. Depending on the country, some or all of these breaks could be paid or unpaid.

Break Times

Meal breaks and rest breaks are essential for workers during a long work day.  The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not mandate an employer to offer meal or rest breaks to employees. But several states have their own laws that obligate employers to give paid and unpaid breaks to employees.

Whether it is mandatory or not, many employers do allot paid /unpaid time for lunch and other breaks. Federal law does designate what time is considered paid and unpaid.

Tracking Break Times

Lunch and rest breaks can be tricky to track. Some employees may forget to clock out. Others may forget to clock back in, when they start working in. This leads to either minutes being added to employee timesheets or being reduced from their time worked. This means that the timesheets are inaccurate and therefore payroll is inaccurate too. In order to make timesheets more accurate, many employers choose to implement automatic time deductions for meals and rest breaks. This ensure that employees get their daily breaks automatically deducted. This is great for employers who want to ensure that they are paying employees accurately. But many people still question the legality of automatic meal and break deductions.

Are Automatic Break Deductions Legal?

Yes! According to the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) and FLSA, it is legal for employers to automatically deduct lunch breaks. As long as the employee actually takes the lunch break. A legal meal break has to last at least 30 minutes according to the FLSA. The key is that employers need to communicate meal periods unambiguously to employees.

Unpaid Meal Breaks

States that enact meal break laws require a half hour break if the employee’s work day is longer than 5 or 6 hours. These meal breaks must be at least 30 minutes long, according to the FLSA. Meal breaks are uncompensated as the employee does not perform any work duties during this time.  If an employee works during the meal break, she has the right to be paid for that time.

Paid Rest Breaks

Rest periods are smaller breaks that are 5 to 20 minutes long. These breaks are compensated as they are considered normal working time. Some states require 10-minute break times for every 4 hours of an employee’s shift. These short breaks are generally considered to promote better productivity.

You can find more information about which hours are considered paid and unpaid.

Keeping Track of Breaks Automatically

Configuring Automatic Breaks
Configuring Automatic Breaks

You can keep track of your employee’s work times by implementing an easy-to-use time tracking app in your operations. With the Mobile Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature, you can automatically deduct time from employee timecards, based on the specifications that you have set up. You can add as many break rules as you need to ensure that your employees break times are properly accounted for.

Why use the Auto Breaks Feature?

Managers and Administrators have a lot on their plates when it comes to tracking employee times. Week after week, they need to make sure that all employee work and break time is recorded automatically. The Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature does the heavy lifting for you. It can automatically apply the break rules, based on the rules that you have set up.

Make sure that you are complying with all federal and local laws concerning break times. That way you avoid trouble with employees, DOL and FLSA. And you make sure that your payroll is accurate.

Automatic Case Time Tracking in Salesforce

importance of time

Assume that your Customer Support gets a Case that comes in late Friday evening. It doesn’t get worked on until Monday morning. While your Support Team spends just 10 minutes working on the Case, the Case Age calculation tells you that it took almost 3 days to close! Throws your Case handling metrics completely out of whack, doesn’t it? So how do you find the actual time spent on the Case?

With the Mobile Time Tracker version 1.52, we’ve introduced a new Lightning Component to automatically track time. You can select the Objects that you want to automatically track time for. Your Salesforce Administrator can set up the Lightning Component for any/all objects that you want automatic time tracking for. In this specific case, your administrator sets up and activates the Track Time component for Cases.

The Track Time Lightning Component

Automatic Time Tracker component
Automatic Time Tracker component

Now, every time an agent opens the Case View page for a specific Case, the timer automatically tracks time spent viewing the Case. If the agent closes the view page or navigates away to a different page, we automatically update a Time Detail log. Let’s say your agent navigates to a specific Case multiple times, then we create a Time Detail log each time. Assume different agents access the same Case, then each agents’ time is tracked against that Case. And your agents do not need to click on a timer or do anything special. All she does is View the Case that she’s working on. Finally, a simple Salesforce report gives you a summary of all the time that has been spent by one or more agents on that Case.

Increased visibility

Case Time Report
Case Time Report

Your Case metrics are no longer skewed by night times, weekends, or holidays. You get a clear insight into actual time spent by agents on Cases. You no longer need to guess why some Cases take longer than others. The data and statistics are clear and compelling.

Accountability

Your staffing decisions, reports, stats to leadership, and service bills to customers all have solid data to back them up. Respond to questions about time spent with confidence.

Native Salesforce component

The Track Time component integrates seamlessly into your Salesforce Lightning environment. All-time tracking data is safely stored in Salesforce. That makes integration with billing and payroll systems simple and effective. And with Salesforce, it’s easy to create any additional reports you need.

More uses of the Track Time component

Assume that you set up the Track Time component on your Salesforce Accounts object. Law firms can easily use the Track Time component to track time that lawyers and paralegals spend on specific customer accounts. Now you can manage billable time with minimal effort.

Set up the component on Opportunities or Leads.  You get a complete insight into how much time your Salespeople are spending on each Opportunity.

Set up the component on Projects. Now you have a view of the time your operations team spends on Projects.

The possibilities are endless with automatic time tracking.