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.

 

 

Automatic Meal and Rest Breaks – An Employer’s Guide

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.

 

Have you converted Volunteers to Donors?

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Looking to grow your donor base? A fantastic place to start is to convert your Volunteers to Donors. According to Abila’s Donor Loyalty Study, 75% of those who volunteered say they are more likely to donate. That is an overwhelming statistic and one that nonprofits should leverage. Studies also show that volunteers donate 10 times more than non-volunteers.

So how do you convert volunteers to donors for your nonprofit? Here are five best practices to help you convert volunteers to donors.

Acknowledge Volunteers like you do Donors

Treat your volunteers right. They may not make monetary contributions.  But the time that they donate to your nonprofit has a tangible monetary value. According to the Independent Sector, the  value of Volunteer Time in 2019 was $ 25.43 per hour. So a volunteer who spends 10 hours with you, has made a contribution of over $ 250 to your nonprofit.

Are you telling your volunteers how much you appreciate their time and effort? Try and do that at as many opportunities as possible. If you can, try to quantify their activity into how much money or time they’ve saved your organization.

For example, “The supporters that you brought to the Annual Walkathon helped us raise an additional $ 5000 this year. This will help us serve another 100 people. Your time and effort helped make this possible!”

Track all volunteer activity

Do you track all volunteer hours diligently? Do you have reports that tell you how many hours a volunteer spent with you this year vs last year? Can you track volunteer retention rates?

Tracking each volunteer interaction gives you a better understanding of the volunteer’s engagement with your organization. And, if you don’t know how the volunteer helped, how can you appropriately thank them?

Tracking all the volunteer hours spent with your organization provide great statistics for grant requests too.

Acknowledge Volunteer Milestones

Volunteer Awards Report
Volunteer Awards Report

Tracking all volunteer hours lets you keep track of specific volunteer milestones. Set up simple acknowledgements or rewards for when volunteers complete specific hour-based or time-based milestones. For example, a volunteer reaches 50 hours this year or completes 3 years of volunteering with you. Reach out to the volunteer. Make a public gesture. Show them that you are aware of their effort and interest in your cause.

Give your volunteers opportunities to share their experiences

Social media share
Social media share

Give your volunteers easy ways for them to share their experience on social media. Use their experience quotes on your website, in a newsletter. Talk to your volunteers about why they do what they do. They can become great ambassadors for your cause. And that may inspire their friends to become donors to your nonprofit.

Ask your Volunteers

Finally, just get down and ask your volunteers for donations. Communication is key, whether it’s with volunteers or donors. According to the Institute for Fundraising, 8 out of 10 people donate after being asked to do so. Don’t assume that your volunteers know your cause and therefore will donate automatically. Maybe they don’t know that your organization needs the money; they may just know that you need volunteers. They may not even know the best or easiest way to donate.

So a simple , straight forward ask may suffice. Perhaps you could set up a way for volunteers to donate a small amount every month. Think of it as a SIP donation plan for volunteers. They could give you $ 10/20/50 every month. That may be easier for some volunteers.

Have you already converted some volunteers to donors? How did you do it? Do share your stories with us.

Automatic Case Time Tracking in Salesforce

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 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 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.

6 Top Time Clock Rules for Hourly Employees

As an employer, you have many responsibilities but perhaps the most important one is complying with government rules and regulations. Recently, the time clock rules for hourly employees have changed and you need to make sure that you  comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You need to be compliant in recording work hours, breaks, overtime and calculating wages for hourly employees.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is very strict about enforcing time clock rules. If you break these rules,  your company can be penalized with substantial fines for every lapse. The best way to ensure that you fulfill federal and state time clock rules is to use a good time tracking software system.  Ensure that the system tracks employees clocking in and out at the beginning and end of their workday. And lets them check in and out of specific jobs/projects.

Hourly Vs Salaried Employees

When understanding the FLSA rules, the most critical thing is the difference between salaried and hourly employees.

A salaried employee receives pay based on an annual sum or salary. As the employer, you decide the pay period – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A salaried employee is not obligated to complete a time sheet, though you may use one for project management or other tracking purposes. The salaried employee’s pay is based on the salary as a whole, rather than on the actual hours worked. So, if a salaried employee works a little over or under the normal 40-hour work week, the employer doesn’t need to keep track of their work hours.

An hourly employee, gets paid by the hour for the number of hours that they worked. As the employer, you decide how many hours your hourly employee must work. Some US states and cities have authorized predictive scheduling laws that mandate that hourly employees be given a specified  amount of notice of the hours they need to work.

An hourly worker is obligated to record their working hours through a timesheet or timecard system that the employer must verify.

Time Clock rules for Hourly Employees

To help you with your FLSA obligations with hourly employees, we reviewed the important rules that you need to keep in mind. These rules are for your hourly employees clocking in and out and tracking their work hours. Here are the top 6:

  • Time tracking system
  • Reported Hours Rounding
  • Maintaining time sheet records
  • Clocking in and out
  • Confirming hours
  • Clarifying time tracking policies

Time Tracking System

The FLSA does not obligate you to use any specific kind of time tracking system.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile, web & Salesforce time tracking

You are free to choose any type of system to track employee time as long as it is accurate. It’s important that the system that you use tracks actual hours worked including any breaks.

dftly’s Time Tracker app is used by many businesses to track time for individual employees and teams. It works on mobile devices, on web pages and within Salesforce, with all time tracking data securely inside Salesforce, regardless of what device it was recorded on. Click here to see how your employees can record their time easily and accurately, wherever they may be working.

Rounding work hours.

The FLSA allows you to round your employees’ reported time to the nearest specified increment. You are permitted to round your employees’ time up or down. For example, if you are rounding off in 10-minute intervals and your employee finishes work at 5:16 p.m., the time should be rounded up to 5:20 p.m.

You need to round up and down fairly. If you are always rounding down (where minutes are deducted), you may be breaking overtime and minimum wage laws.

Make sure that your time tracking system automatically rounds up or down to ensure accuracy and fairness. If the rounding up has caused your employees to be entitled to overtime, then you are obligated to pay that overtime, based on the overtime laws for your state/city.

Maintaining time sheet records

Employers are required to keep time cards (or other records) that demonstrate how your hourly employees wages were calculated for a period of at least two years. The two-year period is required by the US Department of Labor and you are required to provide access to the Wage and Hour Division access to inspect your records when necessary. So make sure that your time tracking software can store timesheet records for as long as necessary. With the Time Tracker, since all records are stored securely in Salesforce, you can always maintain time records for the necessary time-frames.

Clocking in and out

As the employer, you can decide whether your hourly employees are allowed to clock in early or clock out late. However, it should only be a few minutes and not hours. With the Time Tracker, you can easily add a limit on clocking in early and clocking out late. In addition, you can configure the Time Tracker to automatically log out or check out an employee after a certain number of hours or minutes for mandatory break times.

Confirming hours

Your hourly workers should have the opportunity to confirm their hours at the

Employees verify worked hours
Employees verify worked hours

end of every pay period. Although a good time tracking system would have recorded the work time accurately, your hourly employees should be able to review and verify their hours,

Your time tracking system should give you or a designated supervisor/manager with the functionality to approve time cards. In addition, you or the manager should receive emails notifications if there are any anomalies in the time cards.

Clarifying time tracking policies

Use photos to avoid buddy punching
Use photos to avoid buddy punching

As the employer, you must inform all hourly employees of the policies and procedures regarding your time clock rules. We suggest that you include it as part of your employee handbook and provide training on how to use the time tracking system. Policies that should be explained include:

  • What happens if employees are caught tampering, or attempting to tamper with the time tracking system
  • The consequences if employees are caught trying to commit time theft
  • What happens if employees are caught buddy punching (trying to clock in and out for their colleagues).

Make the right choice for your business

Given the importance of adhering to time clock rules, it may be impossible to adhere to state and federal requirements, with just manual time cards. Investing in a good, accurate time tracking software system is the right choice for most businesses. It’s not just about potential legal and compliance problems, but you could be losing money on payroll, if you are not correctly calculating work hours with overtime and rounding.

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Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?

Time tracking in Salesforce

Two years ago, we started down the route of time tracking on mobile devices for field and remote workers. All data from the mobile devices synced back into Salesforce in near real-time. Our goal was to give field workers the ability to get their work times into Salesforce on a mobile. We did build a simple way to track time automatically within Salesforce, but it was quite limited in functionality.

From our market research, we saw that there was a need for time tracking data to be synced to Salesforce. Since invoicing, project management and payroll were all within Salesforce, that work hours should be in Salesforce too made sense. PSA apps, ERP apps… all included time tracking as a part of their functionality. And those apps tracked work time for employees who worked within Salesforce. So, we decided that we would not play in that space – at the time.

Mobile and web apps

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Our initial focus was on the mobile space where field workers and remote workers could track their work times. Our goal was to enable workers to track time easily and with little fuss on their familiar phones. Soon after, based on customer requests, we rolled out a Web-based Time Tracker. This was meant for workers who were not comfortable using mobile apps. The one big feature that we added in the Web version was the ability for users to enter time after the fact. This enabled workers to enter their time at the end of the day. Soon we rolled out the capability to enter multiple lines on a timesheet. Now, people who worked on multiple jobs during the day could enter a full timesheet once a day or week.

Time sheet entries on mobile, web or in Salesforce
Timesheet entries on mobile and web

With more customer requests, we added more functionality to both the Web and the mobile apps. We introduced configurable fields that could be displayed on both the mobile and on web apps. A new Team time tracking app on the mobile lets a single Team Lead check her entire team in. We updated the mobile app to allow configurable geo-tracking and photographs. This feature allowed us to minimize buddy punching. We introduced addresses that could be opened in Google/Apple maps to help field people find their next job-site. On the web app, we added an Approval mechanism for timesheets. Now managers and supervisors can approve/reject time entries for team members.

Over a year and a half, both the mobile app and the web apps grew with more functionality. But we did not do much on the Salesforce time tracking functionality.

Time Tracking in Salesforce

Over this calendar year, though, we’ve seen a renewed interest in time tracking inside Salesforce. To the point where now, over 60% of our leads are looking for Time Tracking within Salesforce.

The May 2019 EU Court of Justice ruling and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements have pushed time tracking to center stage. Any business that has employees is now affected by regulatory compliance for time worked, overtime calculation and break time compliance. And that has pushed interest in time tracking within Salesforce.

Time sheet entry in Salesforce

Luckily for us, because of our Mobile app, we had a lot of functionality within Salesforce already. The objects themselves, reports,  dashboards – all these existed. We have now added a number of other functions that make life easier with Salesforce. Some examples:

  • A Lightning component that can be added as a Time Tracker pop-up from the Salesforce utility bar, to track time against ANY object, including the one that the user is currently working on.
  • A multi-check in time tracking option that helps enter their complete timesheet for a day or a week at a time, after-the-fact.
  • A Summary Timesheet page that helps users within Salesforce select a date and add/see all the time entries for that day, so users can make sure they’ve recorded all their work for a given date.

Overall, we now have one of the strongest offerings for time tracking, be it on the mobile, on the Web or within Salesforce. And the best part is that you could have a combination of users, some using our mobile app, some on the web and others inside Salesforce. Regardless of where the time tracking happens, Salesforce is the single repository of all time tracking data. So integration with payroll, invoicing and ERP systems becomes that much easier.

We are thrilled to say now that we are the Timekeepers for Salesforce!

5 workplace time wasters (and how to eliminate them)

Time wasters at workIf you think of your workplace as an obstacle course filled with distractions, you’re not alone. Between long meetings, emails, social platform notifications, alerts from your mobile phone and loud colleagues, most of us are inundated with potential time wasters. But the killer is not just the distraction, it’s how much time it takes to get your focus back on the task at hand. According to a UC Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where you left off, after an interruption. Honestly, it’s a wonder work gets done at all!

But maximizing your productivity at work can mean the difference between leaving at a reasonable time or being endlessly chained to your desk. Work-life balance is important to maintain your sanity and actually have a life outside work. So let’s identify some of the biggest time wasters in the workplace and see how we can address them.

Time Waster # 1: Email

We’ve all become addicted to email. It’s a great way of asynchronous

Too much email
Too much email

communication. Chances are checking email is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to bed. But emails can also lead to lots of unnecessary back-and-forth communication that wastes time. And with trigger-happy Reply All co-workers, your Inbox is probably full all the time!

Solution:

  • If it’s something that needs to be discussed, talk face to face with the person and get the issue resolved.
  • If you can’t do face to face, then call them on the phone and get the issue sorted out.
  • Follow the call with a quick email detailing what you discussed.
  • If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed, set it aside for later.
  • Check emails at specific times during the day. Respond to urgent ones quickly. Set aside others and Reply All emails to be dealt with at a later time.

Hack: If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed (you have only been CC:d), then don’t feel obliged to respond. Use the same logic when you send out emails too.

Time Waster #2: Meetings

Meandering Meetings
Meandering Meetings

Meetings can be a huge time-sink. And if they are poorly planned and executed, then they are doubly so.  Doodle (an online scheduling service) just released results of it’s study of 19 million meetings in the US, UK and Germany. The cost of poorly organized meetings just in the US in 2019 is estimated at $ 399 billion.

Solution:

  • Make sure that every meeting host has a set agenda to be discussed and that it’s distributed to attendees before the meeting starts.
  • Talk to the meeting host and ask why you should attend. If you feel that someone else from your team would be able to contribute more to the task at hand, then get them to go and give you an update.
  • If you are hosting the meeting, make sure that everything is set up and visual aids are up and running before people walk into the meeting.

Hack: Set up all your meetings to be stand-ups. Schedule them for 20-30 minutes. Very little chance that they’ll go over. 🙂

Time Waster # 3: Smartphones and Social distractions

Smartphones enable us to be more connected and tuned in. But it also comes

Social distractions on your phone
Social distractions on your phone

with a built in productivity sink. US adults spent an average of 3 hours 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. Recent research shows that 58% of staff spend at least 4 hours per week on non-work websites. That’s a lot of your work time that’s going into unproductive stuff.

Solution: 

  • Turn off all Notifications on your phone during work hours. Believe me, you’ll get a lot more done.
  • If you can’t resist checking your social media accounts every 5 minutes, block them.
  • Give yourself a proper lunch-break. Use that time to check all your social media accounts and non-work websites, without feeling guilty about it.

Hack: Put your phone face down when you’re working. Stops all calls and notifications. Most smartphones let you set up some numbers (family) that will still ring, when your phone is face down. But all other distractions will stop.

Time Waster #4: Chatty coworkers and a noisy office

It’s hard not to talk to colleagues. After all you spend 40 hours (perhaps more)

Chatty coworkers
Chatty coworkers

with them every week. But chatting with colleagues is one of the biggest time wasters. And with open plan offices, even if you aren’t chatting, the noise of others chatting, laughter, phone ring-tones can all contribute to stop you from staying focused.

Solution:

  • See if you can move or work in an empty conference area / room when you need to do focused work.
  • Limit banter to lunch time or break time.
  • If possible, see if you can work remotely when you have important things to complete.

Hack: Wear headphones while you work. Signals to your coworkers that you are busy and they’ll only disturb you if it’s work-related and important. Also, several studies state that listening to calming sounds like flowing water or rain can help you focus.

Time Waster #5: Failed multi-tasking

You probably think that multi-tasking makes you more productive. But the reality

Failed multi-tasking
Failed multi-tasking

is very different. Studies have consistently proved that the majority of people have lower performance when trying to do multiple tasks. So if you find yourself juggling 3 or more tasks at a time, it’s time to reevaluate your work habits.

Solution:

  • Spend some time creating a daily task list that promotes single-tasking.
  • Prioritize and then break up your day accordingly.  If possible, assign a set time to do each task, based on importance.
  • Complete one task before moving on to the next.

Hack: Put specific tasks at specific times on your calendar (phone/desktop/paper). Make sure that you do the tasks at those times.

While each one of these time wasters probably doesn’t seem that serious, collectively they can be a huge drain on your productivity and work time. They can prevent you from focusing on real work, causing you to stay late or taking unfinished work home to your family. I hope this list helps you identify your personal time wasters. And gives you some pointers on how you can get more quality time with your family and on things that you really enjoy. Good luck! And do share your tricks to eliminate time wasters.

 

 

 

The Power of the Hub!

It was a cold and stormy night…. Nope, not the start of yet another horror story. In fact this story is the exact opposite. At 2 AM on a chilly Bangalore night, there I was typing responses into an online spreadsheet. And feeling pretty good about it. But let me start at the beginning…..

In the summer earlier this year, TJ Warfield put up a wish-list for an Event check-in tool for nonprofits on the Power of Us Hub (The Hub, as it is sometimes called, is an online community for Salesforce.org customers, certified partners and staff). Caroline Renard, who knew of our work in the mobile app space for nonprofits, brought us into the conversation. Over a lively discussion on the Hub involving multiple people, a detailed list of functionality came up. Looking at that list, it seemed to us as something we could deliver, given that we had so much of the Salesforce and mobile infrastructure already. So we took it upon ourselves to deliver an Event add-on to our V4S Kiosk product over the next couple of months. That started a hectic round of design, development and testing internally, running into September.

Come the end of September and it was Dreamforce time. And time for virtual conversations to become real. At the Amplify breakfast, I met  with TJ and Caroline and spoke about what we had done with the wish list for Events. It was truly exciting for all of us to see how a conversation in the Hub had turned into something concrete.

Back home after Dreamforce in mid-October, we connected across the world, our team in Bangalore with TJ in San Francisco and Caroline in Seattle. And we were back in the virtual world to review the Events add-on. TJ was very happy with what we showed and graciously offered to demo and test the add-on at the Salesforce.org Open Source Community Sprint, held in Portland, OR  (#SFDOsprint) in end-Oct.

We were of course thrilled with the idea, but we were also very aware of the many things that could go wrong. TJ had seen the app near-complete, but the last 10% takes 50% of project time, right? Our team in Bangalore worked pretty much round-the-clock to put together a demo org for the Sprinters to use. We made sure there was a reasonable amount of data, a clear set of instructions and other resources for the Sprinters and a shared Google spreadsheet to collect suggestions and feedback.

The Salesforce.org Community Sprints are amazing events. Participants discuss everything from best practices to general experience to solution requirements. Working in teams, participants go all the way to produce solutions with documentation, code and data models. And everything produced by the teams goes back into the Community, making the whole ecosystem better for everyone. The Portland Sprint had that same terrific energy and enthusiasm. With 130 people at the event covering the Nonprofit and Higher Education sectors, we had a large number of people trying out the Event add-on.

With our mobile app still in beta on the iTunes Store, we did some pretty hairy

Across the world on a mission for nonprofits
Working for a mission

back-and-forth using the iTunes TestFlight platform to get our friendly Sprinters in Portland on board. It was incredible seeing the Sprinters in Portland, our awake-at-midnight team in Bangalore and the Test flight platform (wherever that is hosted :)) all coming together for a good cause. Watching from across the world as multiple Sprinters installed V4S Kiosk via TestFlight was awe-inspiring, to say the least. And as suggestions and feedback came flying into the Feedback sheet from the Sprinters, it truly felt great to be typing in responses at 2 AM :).

Kudos to all the Sprinters who dedicated their own time to test and review the Events add-on, all for the cause of enriching the product range for Nonprofits. Thanks to these hard-working Sprinters, there’s now a terrific set of feedback and suggestions that we will add into the product. A product that nonprofits can use to raise money, manage volunteers and deliver education. Which goes to prove that “All for One and One for All’ is not just the Three Musketeers slogan but a way of life for a lot of people!

Moving to mobile time tracking: Are you prepared?

So you are transitioning from paper time sheets 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 the 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 time sheets. 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 in to 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 time sheets 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!