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Articles and resources covering work management, employee time and attendance, absence management and more.

Back in December 2018 I wrote an article here to answer the question, Is the Four-Day Work Week Finally Catching On? Soon after publishing the article, a number of people contacted me to say I should also write about the three-day work week. My initial reaction, I have to admit, was one of sheer incredulity. How can that even be possible? As it turns out, it is possible and people are doing it – but don’t worry, it’s more an individual thing than an employer thing. In other words, your company does not have to worry about offering a three day work week option any time soon, if ever.


The Work Week’s History Revisited

As I explained in my previous work week article, the 40-hours-per-week standard was never selected because it was optimal – it was chosen as a way to protect people from being overworked in factories. But this begs the question of whether or not there is an optimal work week, or an optimal work day for that matter.


As the Industrial Revolution ramped up in the late 1700s, factories were running 24/7 and practically killing people with 10-16 hours in a day. Over in Britain, a fellow by the name of Robert Owen came along and started a campaign to shorten the work day and work week. He was a Welsh textile manufacturer and social reformer who was horrified by working conditions for both children and adults. In 1810 he was arguing in favor of a 10-hour work day, but by 1817 had switched to demanding an 8-hour day. He created a slogan to promote his idea: “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest.”


In the United States the fight for an 8-hour work day was long and fractured, with progress made in fits and starts by individual companies, industries and political jurisdictions. It wasn’t until the 1937 Fair Labor Standards Act that the 40-hour work week became federal law, requiring overtime pay beyond 40 hours in a week. Although as originally enacted it only applied to about 20% of the overall workforce, it soon became the accepted standard throughout corporate America.


What Science Says About the Work Day

Part of the issue here is that talking about the length of the work day and the work week is the wrong way to approach the issue. The core concern here is productivity, right? So, the real question is what is the optimal way to work for maximum productivity. When you approach the issue from this angle, then science does have something to say about it. This is because there are natural rhythms to how the human brain works in terms of how long it can realistically focus on a given task and be productive.


This makes sense when you think about it. After all, we aren’t machines that can just work endlessly without losing focus – even though it may feel like our bosses treat us that way! A machine works in a linear fashion, but humans need to account for how we move more in cycles. And this brings us to the science of a concept called ultradian rhythm, a cycle that gets repeated throughout a day (as opposed to the better-known circadian rhythm, which is a day-long cycle. The study of these biological rhythms is called chronobiology. Applying this concept to human activity like work, you get to something called BRAC – Basic Rest-Activity Cycle. It mimics what happens when we sleep, which tends to flow in cycles of REM sleep lasting 90 minutes, then 20 minutes of non-REM sleep. The idea is that your brain will do best if it only tries to focus on a given task for 90 minutes and then takes a 20-minute break. That’s the basic cycle, although there can be variation from person to person. But the idea of plowing through a ton of work without stopping simply isn’t the best approach to productivity.


There are plenty of variations on this basic theme, such as the Pomodoro Technique developed by Francesco Cirillo back in the late 1980s. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. When Cirillo discovered the benefits of working in chunks separated by short breaks, he used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato. He found that if he worked for 25 minutes and then took a five-minute break, he was able to focus better, accomplish more, and producer higher-quality work. Each 25-minute chunk of work is called a pomodoro. Every four pomodoros you take a longer break, more like 20-30 minutes. When you find yourself working and you are interrupted or distracted by the thought of some other task you need or want to do, you just jot it down, which signals your brain to let it go so you can get back to work. Your brain knows you have a written list of these other things, so it doesn’t have to keep bringing up again and again, interrupting your flow of work.


Another variation is the 52-17 approach. This was recently discovered when DeskTime studied its own data. It’s a real-time automatic time-tracking app that analyzes your productivity. Crunching its own data revealed that its most productive app users tend to work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break. This feels a bit random, but it’s what their data says. And they looked at a LOT of data. Their app collects 5.5 million records every day. And when they isolated the top 10% for productivity, this 52-17 work pattern is what emerged.


Whether you go for 90/20, 25/5 or 52/17, the basic takeaway is that productivity depends on taking surprisingly frequent short breaks. But it’s also important to make them quality breaks. You have to really get away from the task you were working on in order to come back refreshed and ready for the next chunk of focused work. The best thing is to get up and move around, but anything that gets you totally away from the work is what’s essential.


Back to the Three Day Work Week

It would not surprise me to find out that the people who have managed to arrange their lives based on a three day work week probably do their work in these kinds of cycles. After all, making a living working only three days in a week would require being highly productive. But, as I mentioned earlier, the three day work week is NOT coming to a workplace near you any time soon. The people who have achieved it tend to be self-employed and have built up a reputation and charge rates for their services that allow them to only have to work those three days each week to make all the money they need for their lifestyle. Good for them! For the rest of who will not be achieving a three day work week in the near future, we can at least make our work much more productive by following the advice to take regular breaks!

If there’s one inescapable fact about being in business in the 21st century it is this: It’s an increasingly digital world. Small and medium-sized enterprises that are holding out from fully embracing the digital tools now available at reasonable prices through many web-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications are falling further and further behind. Take a look around your workplace – how many filing cabinets do you have devoted to storing and organizing your paper human resources documents and files? This is something your company can and should change immediately. The good news is that it’s an easy fix with better workforce management HR documentation in the cloud.

Save Time and Money with Better Workforce Management HR Documentation


Secure Cloud Storage for Better Workforce Management HR Documentation

One of the primary rationalizations for not embracing the paperless office is security. After all, HR documents contain highly sensitive personal information about your employees. This reason for resisting digital solutions simply no longer applies. Any web-based cloud solution for better workforce management HR documentation should include professional-grade security and compliance with any number of schemes such as HIPPA, SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley), FERPA and more. In fact, the level of security offered by most solutions is going to be significantly better than keeping paper files in filing cabinets. And you’ll be able to access your company’s files anytime, anywhere, on any device with an Internet connection and web browser, even when you’re on the go.


Saving Time and Money with Better Workforce Management HR Documentation

Time is money in the business world, and a good HR documentation management system will save your company plenty of both. How does it do this? With the following kinds of features:


  • Document Workflow. If you have documents that need to pass through multiple authors, reviewers, and approvers, a good HR document management solution automates this workflow once you’ve set it up for different types of documents. This greatly speeds up the process from start to finish because you won’t be relying on physical pieces of paper being passed around and marked up by hand, or confusing email threads where it’s not clear who has done what to any given document.
  • Version Control. Keeping everyone on the same page is easy with the kind of version control offered in a good HR document management system, preventing accidental deletions and overwrites.
  • Custom Security. Besides keeping your company information secure from outside hackers, the right HR documentation management system also allows you to set controls and permissions for the people who do have access to the system, both in terms of viewing and editing capabilities.
  • Powerful Search. The ease with which you can search and find any document in seconds is reason enough to make the switch to a digital HR document management system. The days of rifling through filing cabinets and endless manila folders will soon be a distant, unpleasant memory.
  • eSignatures. This is another point of resistance for many organizations who want to see real signatures on pieces of paper. But highly-secure digital signature technologies are available that render this an entirely misplaced rationale.


Additional Benefits of Better Workforce Management HR Documentation

Imagine the physical space that will be freed up in your workplace when you go digital with your HR documentation. How many work-stations could you set up in that now-empty space? And you can pay for additional help with the money you’ll be saving with a digital solution. It’s a win-win all the way around.


There’s also the environmental responsibility angle to consider. Most companies are pretty good about recycling paper, but more eco-friendly choice is to not use paper to begin with, which is only possible with a digital document management system. If reducing negative environmental impacts is important to your company, this is a great way to show the world you’re walking the talk.


Companies that adopt a good system for better workforce management HR documentation can often see positive return on investment (ROI) in a matter of weeks. Is that something your company can afford to ignore? If the time has come for your company to go digital with its HR documentation, take a closer look at CaptureWork, a web-based workforce management solution that also include leave tracking, employee scheduling, time clock functionality, and a learning management system for training. Don’t let another year of 21st century workforce management solutions pass you by!


One of the most overlooked areas of workforce management among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with 500 or fewer employees is training and learning. Too many companies only go through the most rudimentary of compliance trainings delivered using outdated, inefficient methods such as the traditional instructor-led classroom that leaves many workers bored and disengaged. Better workforce management training and learning can easily be achieved if your company uses the right web-based learning management system (LMS).


If your business is one that benefits from having workers record and submit their hours, it’s essential that this occurs in a way that is seamless for the benefits of the employees while at the same time accurate feeds data into the larger business management system. The question then becomes this: What’s the most effective and efficient way to achieve better workforce management time clock functionality?


Time Clock Functionality by the Numbers

Here are the results of a survey of nearly 1,000 employees who are required to track their hours. It’s very revealing in terms of how time clock functionality is being achieved today:


  • 38% are still either filling out paper timesheets or using a physical punch clock.
  • 25% use some kind of time tracking application
  • 14% use a touch screen or kiosk
  • 7% use some kind of biometric scanning
  • 7% use a point of sale system
  • 3% just email or text their hours


Assuming the time tracking apps, touch screens/kiosks, biometric scanning and point of sale system automatically feed the data they collect into a centralized human resources software platform of some kind, this means the data submitted by more than 40% of employees through paper timesheets, punch-clocks, emails and texts would still need to be manually entered into the company’s human resources or payroll software. This is not the most effective or efficient way to manage time tracking! In the digital era of the 21st century, those companies using outdated methods of time tracking stand to make major gains in operational efficiency when they take the time to transition to a web-based solution for better workforce management time clock functionality. As a side note, it’s also interesting to note that while 66% of those who have to track their time are hourly employees, at least 16% are salaried workers.


Streamlined Tracking for Better Workforce Management Time Clock Functionality

There is more to time tracking than just making it easier and automating the data feed into HR systems. If your company does time clock management manually, then you lack the kind of real-time visibility into one of the most essential aspects of managing your business from moment to moment. When you don’t immediately know who is missing, who is late or who has left early, you can’t take immediate action to mitigate the resulting loss in productivity.


For example, many of the best time clock apps can be set up so that the right manager is notified by text or email when an employee punches in late or punches out early, giving the manager a heads up to make whatever adjustments might be needed with other workers to cover the lost productivity. This kind of granular, real-time detail simply isn’t available with manual systems, and yet it is exactly what is needed for business success in the 21st century.


Flexibility in Better Workforce Management Time Clock Functionality

A good web-based time clock solution will include all kinds of features that save time in ways impossible to achieve with a paper-based or punch-clock system. Define a grace period in minutes within which employees won’t be considered a late punch-in or early punch-out. Set up the automatic deduction of allowable meal times in minutes to avoid multiple punch-in and punch-outs during a shift. Restrict which IP addresses can be used for punching in and out to avoid remote abuses of the system. Set up automatic rounding to the nearest time unit you define, such to the nearest five-minute interval. These points of flexibility quickly prove themselves to be invaluable in your efforts to achieve better workforce management time clock functionality.


Make no mistake, the companies that grow and thrive in digital era of the 21st century will be those that leverage the power of web-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to achieve greater operational efficiency. If it’s time for your company to find better workforce management time clock functionality, sign up for a free trial of CaptureWork, an affordable solution that also includes leaving tracking, employee scheduling, training, and HR document management.

Your company’s business success depends at least in part on having its workers on-site when you need them. Employee scheduling is one of those tasks that every company has to do, but one that also results in more wasted time than anyone would care to admit. Scheduling can be made so much easier when you have the right web-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool at your disposal. Making the transition to better workforce management employee scheduling could be one of the most important decisions you make to achieve greater operational efficiency for your business.


Fewer Headaches and Hassles with Better Workforce Management Employee Scheduling

Small businesses with only a handful of employees don’t tend to need a software solution for employee scheduling. A physical paper calendar or whiteboard can often serve the purpose just fine. The problem that all too often occurs, however, is when the business grows. If the growth is rapid, it can easily outpace your capacity to step back and look at the management systems you should be putting in place to keep up with the growth. Before you know it, your thriving company is being held back as it continues to handle important tasks like employee scheduling with outdated and inefficient methods and systems. Employee scheduling that was previously simple when the company was small has suddenly become a frustrating and tedious task taking up hours and hours every week.


The Rationale for Better Workforce Management Employee Scheduling

There are two significant learning points here. One is that since there are lots of web-based solutions available, many of which are extremely affordable even for the smallest of companies, it makes sense to start using one while your business is still small. Most of them will easily scale up as your company grows. The second learning point is that even if your company didn’t adopt one while it was small, you must not continue making the mistake of waiting any longer to put one in place. The majority of solutions available today can be set up and ready to roll in a matter of minutes or hours – a very small amount of time to put into something that will save many hours each week and avoid the hassles and headaches of your inefficient system. Imagine doing in minutes what is currently sucking up hours every week. Can you afford not to put some time into adopting the right solution for better workforce management employee scheduling?


Another point of resistance, of course, is the additional task of identifying the right solution for your company. When you go online and discover there are nearly 200 different web-based workforce management systems that include employee scheduling, it’s enough to make your head spin and give up. Just remember to keep your eye on the prize of saving significant amounts of time and money currently being wasted on inefficient employee scheduling. It’s worth the effort to find and adopt a good solution.


Employee scheduling often feels like a mundane task to be suffered through, but that’s the wrong way to view it. View it instead as an opportunity to give your company an edge over your competitors by achieving greater operational efficiency. With this frame of mind, it becomes clear that modernizing your methods with better workforce management employee scheduling is a vital step to take on the road to business growth and success. As you begin sifting through the many options available, take a closer look at CaptureWork, and affordable, web-based SaaS workforce management solutions with five critical modules, including leave tracking, employee scheduling, time clock management, training, and HR document handling.

The benefits of better workforce management leave tracking seem obvious to the companies who have adopted a good web-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution. It’s hard for them to even remember how they used to handle employee leave management through paper forms and spreadsheets. It may have only been in the last several years that they made the transition to a digital solution, but they already can’t imagine doing it any other way. If your company has not yet modernized its leave management practices with better tools, then it’s time to take a deeper dive into many advantages of better workforce management leave tracking.


Reduce Wasted Time with Better Workforce Management Leave Tracking

Everyone knows that employees waste time at work. In many cases, the distractions of mobile devices, social media and the Internet are the main culprits, as noted by Forbes back in 2015. An employee leave management system won’t help you address that kind of wasted time, but it can reduce the amount of time wasted on inefficient methods of tracking and managing employee leave. Do your company’s workers have to fill out paper forms to put in a request for time off? Filling out and processing time off requests manually should be a thing of the past because it wastes valuable time that could be saved when it is easily done online.


Business success in the 21st century is much easier when you have vital data at your fingertips. How easy would it be for you to put together a report showing the impact of each kind of employee leave on your company’s bottom line? If you haven’t transitioned to a web-based leaving management system, you could be looking at a whole day or more of work just to assemble a report to present the data in a way that can inform business decision-making. Does that sound like the way a business can succeed in the modern digital age? Of course not! You need essential data available as close to real-time as possible in order to be both agile and nimble in managing your company. This is exactly what the right web-based leave tracking system brings to the table.


Accomplish More with Better Workforce Management Leave Tracking

Now think about what can be accomplished by freeing up the time currently wasted through an outdated leave management system. You can probably think of at least a dozen different initiatives and projects that are have been waiting in the wings to get started. With more efficient leave tracking, you can start moving those projects to the front burner instead of letting them languish on the back burner where they’ve been for who knows how long. The people who are charged with managing employee leave time will be forever grateful for the opportunity to focus on more substantive tasks that make a real difference to the company. All that just from the simple adoption of the right web-based leave management system – it’s a no-brainer step towards operational efficiency your company should take sooner than later.


Why Companies Resist Better Workforce Management Leave Tracking

Most companies don’t actively resist the transition to a better leave management system. It’s more of a passive neglect than anything else. Inertia sets in for any number of reasons. Even though a company’s leave management methods may be woefully outdated and inefficient, there is a familiarity with the way things have always been done that can be difficult to overcome in spite of the clear benefits of a more modern system. In addition, when you go online and see that there are dozens of options, the task of finding the right one can seem daunting, and therefore is easily ignored. The problem with this rationalization is that there are step-by-step guides for how to go about identifying and choosing good software solutions. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to improving your company’s operational efficiency.


Without Better Workforce Management Leave Tracking, Absenteeism is Costly

Unexpected absences will always be an issue in terms of the bottom-line impacts of lost productivity and stalled projects. But what if there are patterns of absenteeism you aren’t catching because you don’t have the right data in the right format at your fingertips? If your leave management system is outdated and inefficient, you’re missing out on the opportunity to get actionable insights for better workforce management. Imagine your company proactively addressing absenteeism issues instead of just putting out fires when a crisis occurs. The right leave management system can do that for you.


If your company is ready for better workforce management leave tracking, then it’s time to take a close look at CaptureWork. Employee leave management is just one of its five main feature areas. Also included are employee scheduling, time clock management, training, and HR document handling. CaptureWork is your ticket to workforce management made easy!

What does it take to succeed in business in the digital ager of the 21st century? If you’ve been in a leadership position in a business for more than a few years, you probably have a good idea how to answer that question. One of the biggest challenges for SMEs (small-to-medium-sized enterprises with 500 and fewer employees) is achieving operational efficiency as the company grows. Operational efficiency is about working smarter, not harder. One advantage any company has in the 21st century is the incredible array of tools available through the web-based SaaS (software as a service) model. These tools are the key to achieving operational efficiency. The area too many SMEs have overlooked is effectively managing their workers. There is no better time than now to take full advantage of workforce management made easy.