Back To The Office After COVID – Do it Right!

Back To The Office After COVID – Do it Right!

Remote work has become the norm in the post-pandemic world. These days, it’s more than just a privileged perk – it is estimated that 57% of employees work from home at the moment, while 2 in 5 will continue to do so by the end of 2021.

If you’re nervous about this transition back to the office, you’re not alone. Most businesses are worried they don’t have the necessary resources and logistics to ensure a successful return to work. Without a clear strategy in place, any “back-to-work” attempt is doomed to feel unpredictable and messy. And, it can leave employees LESS engaged than they were when working remotely.

One thing is for sure: a hybrid work model will be the best approach in these uncertain times. In simple terms, if some of your employees wish to continue working from home and the nature of their work allows it, you should make it happen, while also accommodating those employees who prefer office work.

The workplace dynamics have changed forever, and if you don’t adapt, you might lose your employees to someone who will. Still on the fence? Let’s address your doubts:

Is remote work less profitable for your business?

While the pandemic put a big dent in the global economy, remote work only had a small (1-3%) impact on productivity. In fact, it helped companies cut costs on office space and employees save money on commutes, coffee, lunch, and even outfits. Joining a zoom call in your underwear? I’m afraid this trend is here to stay.

The way workers manage their time has changed as well. Employees now have the freedom to take breaks at different times compared to the office, which may lead to a better work-life balance. However, this flexibility can leave a lot of room for interruptions – whether that’s deliveries, kids, or pets.

If you’re worried that your employees may not be engaged when working from home, ask yourself – how is productivity really measured? Attending a meeting, whether virtual or at the office, has never been a good indicator of efficiency. Instead, the focus should fall on task management and getting things done, regardless of when and where work happens.

Rather than forcing employees to be present, we should teach them how to better concentrate on their tasks and course-correct them if they’re not efficient.

Won’t a hybrid work model be confusing?

When companies started reopening their doors to their employees, they noticed new patterns of behavior. Unsurprisingly, Monday and Friday weren’t popular days for coming to the office. Once there, employees spent more time socializing in the conference rooms and lounges rather than their actual desks.

This pattern should give you clues on what steps to take when devising your “back-to-work” strategy:

  • Ask for employee feedback – some love the social interaction and busy office life, while others would much rather stay home. Can you accommodate that?
  • Introduce rotation in the office schedule – to fill the unpopular time slots at the office.
  • Consider a phased approach – start with a 25% in-office capacity and then slowly increase to 50% or more.
  • Plan for employee socialization – embrace it, support it, even encourage it when people are at the workplace.

Tools for flexible work are more important than ever.

Companies like Salesforce pride themselves on their flexible approach to work because they understand that more flexibility leads to more productivity. Their slogan “Success from Anywhere” centers on the employee’s wellbeing in a digital work model. We can all learn from that.

Now, more than ever, companies need tools for communication, transparency, and collaboration with their employees. With our Time Tracker for Salesforce, you can do just that – help support your employees so they can stay on track. 

Using a time tracking app will help you:

  • Replace the traditional office check-in;
  • Facilitate project management;
  • Allow manual entries for when real-time tracking isn’t possible.

Conclusion

Flexible and remote work have their benefits, but they’re also challenging for both companies and employees. When working from home, lines between personal time and work get blurry, and this can lead to burnout. Managers should regularly check their employees for signs of distress and adjust their tasks accordingly.

In these trying times, while we certainly don’t want employees to slack off, we shouldn’t want them to feel like they’re under constant surveillance, either. Relying on tech should help employees do their work on their own terms and establish trust and solid work relationships.

Like Doc said in Back to the Future, “Whatever happens Marty, don’t go to 2020!”. Well, we did go to 2020 and survived. And in 2021, it’s Back to the Office! 

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

How the Gods and the Romans made your New Year

How the Gods and the Romans made your New Year

Our lives are run by Time, and time begins with the New Year, in our minds. For most us in the Northern Hemisphere (where roughly 88 percent of the world’s population lives), though, starting the new year on January 1st feels strange and counter-intuitive. It’s the dead of winter and most of nature is quite literally sleeping. The way that we humans devised systems to track time has been a complex affair, influenced by religious traditions, politics, astronomical events and seasonal changes. So with all of those and more at our disposal, why does our new year start on January 1st, which is no time for renewal and rejuvenation.

So why Jan 1?

Simply put, it’s all about politics. When the Romans used a lunar calendar, the year began in March, on the day that the new consuls took office for the year. But the lunar calendar frequently fell out of step with the seasons and had to be corrected. To make matters worse, the Roman pontifices (who were charged with overseeing the calendar), often added days to extend political terms or interfere with elections. And here you were thinking that only the Russians did that….

So in steps my favorite Roman dictator – Julius Caesar – who decided that the

Janus, the two-headed Roman god

Janus, the two-headed Roman god

Roman calendar desperately needed to be fixed. With the aid of Sosigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer, Julius decided to do away with the lunar calendar completely and follow the solar year, as did the Egyptians. The year was calculated to be 365 and ¼ days. Caesar added 67 days to 45 B.C., making 46 B.C. begin on January 1st, rather than in March.

Julius also decreed that every four years an additional day would be added to February, thus keeping his calendar from falling out of step. This started our current practice of the Leap year.

The Roman God of beginnings and endings

January had a festival for Janus, the Roman god of time, duality, gates or beginnings. Janus’ has a most interesting association with time. His two heads were said to allow him to see both the past and the future. He was said to have witnessed the beginning of time, and could see ahead to the end.The association between Janus and the calendar was cemented by the construction of 12 altars, one for each month of the year, in Janus’s temple in the Forum Holitorium.

From 153 B.C. onwards, the Roman consuls took office on the first day of January, offering prayers to Janus. The Romans distributed dates, figs and honey to their friends, hoping that the new year would turn out to be as sweet, as well as coins hoping that the year would be prosperous.

The Middle Ages.

By the middle ages, the celebration of January 1st as the beginning of the new year fell out of practice, even with die-hard followers of the Julian calendar. This was because Caesar and Sosigenes were a bit off in their calculation of the length of the solar year. The correct value of the year was 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days. That 11-minute a year error added 10 days by the mid-15th century. So in 1570, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a new calendar. In 1582, the new Gregorian calendar was implemented, omitting 10 days for that year. And establishing a new rule that only one of four centennial years should be a leap year, thus correcting for the additional days in the Julian calendar. Since then, the Gregorian calendar has become the most widely used calendar across the world and people celebrate January 1st as the precise arrival of the New Year.

Are there other New Year dates?

Yes, there are. Even though most cultures follow the Gregorian calendar for day-to-day functions, plenty of cultures have their own calendars. Religious calendars from the Muslim, Hindu and Jewish traditions specify the beginning of their new year at different times in the Gregorian calendar. For example:

  • Sep/Oct in the Judaic tradition. The Jewish new year festival of Rosh Hashanah comes between September and October.
  • Changes every year, in the Islamic tradition. The Islamic new year fluctuates, thanks to it’s lunar calendar.
  • Persians and many others mark the new year on the first day of spring, in a festival called Nowruz. Nowruz coincides with the vernal equinox, which falls between March 19 to 21st and comes when day and night are exactly equal in length.
  • March / April, for Hindus. There are two schools of thought in the Hindu Calendar. One is lunar and the other is solar. So for some Hindus, the month of
    Balance of sweetness and bitterness

    Balance of sweetness and bitterness

    Chaitra is the first month and for others the month of Vaishaka is the first month. The first day of the month of Chaitra or Vaishaka (spring) is known as Yugadi (yuga – year and adi – beginning). Both dates fall in March / April according to the Gregorian calendar. Growing up in India, I remember that unlike the Roman tradition of just sweets, the Hindu new year tradition of bevu-bella (neem and jaggery) signified the symbolic balance of bitter and sweet in the new year.

  • January or February, for the Chinese. The Chinese New Year is also a spring festival which is a lunar festival and generally falls in end January or early February.

While a lot of cultures have their New Year’s day on different dates, celebrating the Julian/Gregorian New Year’s Day on January 1st is now universal. And the Times Square ball drop on a chilly New York night is a much watched tradition world-wide.

As we help our customers track time. we’ll bring you more interesting tidbits about work, time, life, phone and the balance between them. Wish you a very joyous, peaceful and healthy 2019.

Until next time!

Moving to mobile time tracking: Are you prepared?

Moving to mobile time tracking: Are you prepared?

So you are transitioning from paper timesheets to a slick new mobile time tracking system with all the bells and whistles. You’re excited about the new technology and you know the ROI of automated time tracking. But after years of using a manual time tracking system, you’re definitely apprehensive about the move to a mobile time tracking system. And if you are anxious, then consider what your employees would be feeling.

The transition from paper to mobile can often seem confusing and overwhelming at first. But regardless of your company size or goals, automating your time and attendance process, will simplify procedures, eliminate errors and provide savings, overall.

But like with anything new, the transition to an automated time and attendance system needs planning and preparation. So here are some tips to help you implement the new technology and get it running smoothly.

  • Get your team on board
Select project

Select project

First things first: it’s critical to make sure that you have the right people on board to support a big change like this. New processes only work, when there is buy-in at all levels. Make sure that you sit down with team leads and influencers and explain why mobile time tracking will benefit them and the business as a whole. Get a couple of enthusiasts to be the champions for the software. That way, the rest of your team will have someone to turn to if they need help. You might even want to offer some short-term incentives to get people to adopt the new technology quickly.

  • Explain the goal of the time tracking

First, start by asking yourself why you want to set up the timesheets. Perhaps, you spend too much time on payroll and there are too many errors in the process. Maybe your clients need more accurate time records with your billing. Perhaps you need to balance your employee workloads better.

Whatever your reasons, communicate it to your employees. Do you want to make sure that everyone is carrying their own weight? Do you want to estimate project times better for their next projects? Explain it to your employees in terms of the personal benefits that they will gain from it. Smoother distribution of efforts, better time frames on projects, faster payroll with fewer errors.

  • Choose the right level of detail

If you start tracking time without the right level of precision, you may not benefit from the new system. But start tracking too many details, and you’ll end up overwhelming your employees. So the right level of detail for time tracking must be neither too vague nor too precise. So what does that mean, exactly? We recommend that you go in stages. Start your time tracking process at a “project” level, so that you can figure out the hours spent on a project, without over-burdening your employees.

Get your team used to the software before heading into more detailed tracking. Later on, you may want to include what tasks/deliverables people worked on, so you can get a more detailed breakdown of your projects. But remember that the more you need to track, the harder it is for your employees. So maintain a trade-off between the detail that you want and the tedium for your employees.

  • Select the activities you’re going to track
Time worked by Employee

Time worked by Employee

Once you’ve selected the level of detail, decide on the projects and activities for which you want to track time. Then start adding in more operational activities like maintenance and support that may not necessarily be tied into specific projects. Then think of adding in administrative tasks such as holidays, time-off, and training.  If you don’t need that level of detail, simply create an activity or project called “Other” to which people can add time.

  • Set up a test run/pilot

Now, you need to make sure that you and your team get a better understanding of how to incorporate mobile time tracking into their day-to-day routine.

  • Make sure that your reference data such as Projects, Users, Tasks are all set up correctly.
  • Deploy the software in manageable chunks. If you have a very large number of employees, you may want to start with one team and then deploy it to others
  • Schedule a training session for your employees. Make sure that someone is available to answer any questions that they may have.

Depending on your employee mix (age, tech familiarity), the time to get comfortable with the new technology will vary. Give them time to ease into the new technology.

  • Run in parallel

After you and your team have tried out the new software and worked out the kinks, formalize the new time tracking process. Put in place whatever rules you want for the process.

Based on how the initial roll-out goes, you may want to run the new mobile time tracking in parallel with the old paper-based timesheets for a few weeks. That way you’ll have a backup as you and the team get up to speed with the new system.

But make sure that you give everyone a firm end date for the old system and ensure that you stick with the date.

The first step, of course, is to find a mobile time tracking system that works for you!

Integrating Salesforce addresses with Google Maps on your mobile phone

Integrating Salesforce addresses with Google Maps on your mobile phone

Have you ever futzed around trying to copy addresses from within Salesforce to Google Maps to figure out where you need to be next? It can be incredibly frustrating.

One of the great things about the Salesforce platform is that there are an infinite number of little features that can make life easier for users. Take for example, a little feature called the Compound Address data type and let’s see how you can use it to make life simpler and easier for your road warriors.

Compound fields group together multiple elements of individual data types, such as numbers or strings, to represent complex data types such as a location or an address. Compound fields are an abstraction that can simplify application code that handles the values, leading to more concise and understandable code. Compound fields are accessible as a single, structured field, or as individual component fields. The values contained within the compound field and the values in the individual fields map to the same underlying data in Salesforce.

Standard addresses – addresses built into standard Salesforce objects – are accessible in SOAP and REST APIs as an Address, a structured compound field that combines several address fields. Using API 30.0 and later, you can directly access the Address data type using both SOAP and REST APIs. Geolocation fields are also accessible as Location. Location is another compound field that combines latitude and longitude. You can only access these compound fields using the SOAP or REST APIs.  Also, they are read-only. If you want to edit the field values, use the individual field components.

Any record with an address in Salesforce can be displayed on Google Maps. So in terms of Standard objects, that’s Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Users.

Access the Address data type on a mobile app using SOAP or REST APIs.

Salesforce address on Google maps

Displaying address on Google Maps

Integrate that Address with Google Maps and voila! Suddenly your mobile users can use that address to open up directly in Google Maps from inside the mobile app that they are using. No need for copying and pasting addresses from Salesforce to Google Maps. Your road warriors more productive now. And much safer, without having to juggle between multiple applications on their mobile phones!

That’s exactly what we’ve done in the dftly Time Tracker mobile app. Field Service technicians can view the address of their next assignment within the Time Tracker app on their mobiles. Clicking on the red location icon, opens up the address on Google Maps or on Apple Maps. It’s really that simple!