In 1967, the Hewlett-Packard plant in Boeblingen, Germany decided to try something different. Instead of making all workers come in at 9 a.m., leadership instituted a new policy that stated employees could arrive to work anytime between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m. as long as they still worked a full eight-hour day.
By 1972, “flex-time”—as it became known—had spread company-wide, popularizing flexible work arrangements (FWA).
Fast forward to today and it’s clear that FWAs are no longer the exception, but the rule:
These arrangements help attract talent and improve employee retention, engagement and productivity. They also present a number of administrative and management challenges to organizations:
- How do you accurately track hours worked for employees with irregular schedules?
- Can you maintain collaboration when team members aren’t in the same room?
- Are your employees really working when they say they are?
Because online meeting software and shared calendars can only do so much, here’s how three types of software can help managers and HR departments stay fully on top of their organization’s flexible work arrangement.
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Ensure Remote Workers Stay On Task: Project Management Software
The reason is simple: without the ability to stop by someone’s desk, managers can never really know if their remote workers are being as productive as they should be.
Or can they? Cloud-based project management (PM) platforms are getting better at tracking remote worker productivity.
At a high level, these systems allow managers to assign tasks and set due dates. As workers complete tasks, they can submit their work and mark the task as complete or assign it to the next worker in the project funnel.
Beyond due dates, platforms such as Workfront also allow managers to specify desired task durations (ex. three days) and assign priority within an individual worker’s task list.
If any task goes beyond the set duration or due date, automatic notifications are sent to managers so they can reach out to their remote worker and see what’s going on.
Some platforms go even further to ensure remote workers stay productive. At the cost of privacy (something you should keep in mind and run by your team before implementing), systems such as HiveDesk make workers check in and out of projects to track precisely how long they’ve worked on something.
Such systems take automatic screenshots which are sent directly to the employee’s manager, to ensure that workers aren’t browsing Facebook on company time.
With a cloud-based platform, workers outside of the office can access the software through a browser on any web-enabled device, an advantage over on-premise systems.
If you aren’t using PM software to track your remote workforce (and chances are, that’s the case), these systems can help you maintain accountability among members of a multi-location team.
Accurately Track Fluctuating Hours: Time & Attendance Software
Project management tools are a great way to track project-based teams, but what about your hourly workers—especially ones in a job share, part-time, flexible shift or compressed work week arrangement where schedules vary?
If you fail to accurately track hours in these cases, you could be facing increased compensation costs for benefits and overtime pay, or worse, a call from the Department of Labor.
Luckily, as options for workers’ hours have increased, so too have the options to track them with time and attendance software. To prevent time theft, your organization may rely on biometric clocks, badge readers or keypads on the wall to have shift workers punch in around the office with their unique ID or thumbprint.
Integrating time and attendance software with these hardware systems ensures that punches are tracked accurately, and provides notifications if workers deviate from preset schedules or rules.
For example, you may set your system to disavow any punches outside of a scheduled shift.
For added flexibility, cloud-based time and attendance systems also allow your employees to clock in and out from their phone or computer if they work outside of the office. Some platforms, like Tsheets, use GPS to track where your workers are clocking in from—a great option for field service companies that need to track their mobile workforce.
Correlate Flexible Work with Flexible Pay: Integrated Payroll Software
Tracking flexible hours is one thing, but correlating it with an accurate paycheck is another feat entirely—one that could require a ton of manual work and duplicate entries if your HR department has separate payroll and time and attendance systems.
By linking the two systems together, or investing in a core HR suite with integrated payroll and time and attendance applications, your flexible workers’ tracked hours can be automatically turned into accurate paychecks.
Depending on each employee’s work status—part-time or full, exempt or not—a system like Intuit Full Service Payroll can withhold necessary taxes and automatically flag anything for review if it seems out of the ordinary (an employee working 32 hours one week then 40 the next, for example).
These platforms also offer transparency, as payroll stubs emailed out to workers automatically detail how their compensation breaks down between income, benefits, overtime, bonuses, taxes withheld and more to avoid any confusion—a handy feature for workers whose paychecks differ drastically from pay period to pay period.