COVID-19 has transformed how we work, with previously overlooked actions – such as shaking hands or using a coffee mug from the company kitchen – now unthinkable. And as employers work to reduce physical contact, traditional clocking systems may also need rethinking.
Fortunately, there is a range of safer, digital options, from time and attendance kiosks to mobile apps and facial recognition.
How Safe Is Staff Clocking in the COVID Era?
Employers should protect staff and customers from COVID-19 transmission as much as possible. As Safe Work Australia says, “All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.”
Work practices, the government statutory body goes on to say, must be adapted for social distancing and “exemplary” hygiene measures, and businesses must “prepare for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 in the workplace”.
Unfortunately, most clocking systems involve not only groups of workers gathering in the same location at the same time, but also large numbers of people touching the same materials – typically without disinfecting them first.
Workers will often use the same pens to sign their paper timesheets, increasing the risk of transmission. There’s some debate over how long COVID-19 can live on surfaces, but it’s probably longer than you think: government agency CSIRO found that it could survive for 28 days on smooth surfaces, such as screens, admittedly in virus-friendly conditions. Other studies indicate that it can live for six days on stainless steel and plastic – making a pen a possible transmission site.
Depending on your state and industry, you could also find you need two, four, or eight square metres of space per worker in enclosed spaces in addition to facilitating 1.5m of distance between them. This may be tricky if you normally get workers to sign timesheets in the staff room or a hallway. Moreover, if managers are needed to verify clocking times, there will be increased interaction between personnel.
Safe Clocking: What Are the Options?
Cutting down on staff interactions and the number of surfaces being touched will reduce the risk of transmission, should one of your team unwittingly come to work with COVID-19. There are several ways to do this:
Time and Attendance Kiosks
Upgrade from a pen-and-paper system to a digital time and attendance kiosk. There will be fewer physical surfaces for your workers to touch, and disinfecting a screen is much easier than paper. Since the information is stored and transferred via the internet, your payroll and HR team won’t need to touch the same physical timesheets as your workers.
Place some hand sanitiser next to the kiosk, and encourage all staff members to use the sanitiser before and after clocking in and out. Allocate a staff member to both clean and disinfect the kiosk at regular intervals throughout the day.
Make sure there’s only one person at a time within 1.5m of a kiosk. To make it even securer, introduce staggered shift times and implement a no-loitering rule for the area in question. This will cut down on potential physical distancing breaches.
Humanforce’s three-photo capture process and state-of-the-art biometrics verification reduces contact with shared surfaces and has robust security options built in to eliminate any chance of employees clocking in or out for one another. You won’t need to worry about employees accidentally filling out someone’s column on the time tracker, rounding up shift times, or clocking in a late coworker to cover up their impunctuality.
Errors will be reduced, and time theft will be impossible – meaning you might be surprised by how much your wage bill falls. Even more importantly, you’ll have accurate records for contact tracing, should you later discover that an employee visited the premises with COVID-19.
The Humanforce app allows workers to clock in and out without any shared equipment. They just need to load the app on their own mobile phone.
Mobile-based systems have the added benefit that employees never need to queue to clock in or out. Maintaining 1.5m of distance is much easier when everyone can go straight to their work station after arriving.
You won’t need to worry about workers clocking in before arriving, either. Our system uses geofencing to ensure that staff members really are on the premises when they register the start and end of their shift time. Geofencing constructs a virtual boundary around a business location using a combination advanced technologies.
Plus, it’s even suitable for unsupervised workers or ones whose shift location can vary, such as construction workers. Simply change the shift location as required.
Better Safety, Fewer Mistakes, Less Stress
From time and attendance kiosks to apps, digital and contactless clocking systems can help you reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. Since they tell you exactly who was on the premises and when, they also give you the perfect record should you be informed that someone worked at the premises while sick.
They don’t just make you COVID-secure, though: they help cut down on administrative errors, ensure award-compliant timesheets, and reduce the number of hours your management, payroll or HR team has to spend calculating wages each month. In short, they improve safety and compliance in the COVID era and beyond – and free up staff so they can focus on growing your business.