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This past Sunday, November 4, 2018, at 2:00 a.m., daylight savings time occurred with many provinces and states across the US setting their clocks one hour back. And, every year, a growing chorus of health professionals, bemoans the need for this and, like many of us, ask why is it we simply don’t get rid of daylight savings time altogether.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article with some compelling reasons to ditch this yearly ritual, by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) titled Eight scientific reasons to ditch daylight time:

  1. You are eight per cent more likely to have a stroke for two days after changing your clocks.
  2. You are also 24 per cent more likely to have a heart attack the Monday after (and 21 per cent on the Tuesday)
  3. Suicide rates in men increase for two weeks after the clocks change.
  4. Judges give harsher legal sentences the day after switching to daylight time
  5. Losing that hour of sleep increases workplace injuries, and the injuries themselves are much more severe.
  6. You’re also more likely to get into a car crash. In fact, this researcher estimates that over the years, 30 fatalities have been caused by the time change.
  7. Daylight time can lead to a dramatic increase in ‘cyberloafing.’
    In adolescents, it can take over a week to adjust to the change, losing an average of 32 minutes of sleep per night, which messes with their memory and reaction time.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose it was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose that was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

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How to Build a Feedback Culture When Working Remotely

September 4th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in HR | Productivity | Scheduling | Telecommuting Employees | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on How to Build a Feedback Culture When Working Remotely)

By Jock Purtle

A lot of things are changing about the way we work. The traditional 9-5 workday is slowly disappearing, or at the very least changing. And every year it seems more and more people are working remotely—currently around 43 percent of the workforce performs their jobs remotely in one way or another.

In general, there are a lot of advantages to remote work. Not only does it make it easier for people to achieve the coveted work-life balance, but remote workers actually tend to be more engaged and productive, when managed correctly.

How to Build a Feedback Culture When Working Remotely

But there are some things from a traditional office setting that remote work struggles to recreate, such as the ability to gather feedback from employees. Hearing people’s opinions about the way things work and the ideas they have for improving them is key to improving your business. But with less-frequent and less-personal digital communication replacing face-to-face interaction, some are wondering if feedback culture is in jeopardy.

In short: it’s not. Yet to make sure you can maintain this all-important feature of a successful, business, you do need to change some of your management techniques and adapt to the nature of a digital work environment. Consider the following to help you build a feedback culture when working remotely.

Hold Regular Meetings
In a remote work environment, efficiency is king. Having flexible work hours means people want to organize their days in the manner that makes them the most productive. And we all know people’s opinions of less-than-productive, something that makes people want to cut them out completely.

But you’ve got to avoid this. Just because people are working remotely, it doesn’t mean they are less important. You still need to maintain constant contact with them, especially if you’re hoping to build a culture of feedback into your remote work environment. You can certainly reduce their frequency, choosing to hold them once a month instead of bi-weekly, for example. Less contact discourages people from speaking out and making suggesting, stunting the development of a feedback culture.

During these meetings, make sure to actively solicit feedback. Ask people questions about your processes and about their jobs so as to encourage a dialogue. Saying just “Anything on your mind?” doesn’t promote dialogue, so you need to work extra hard to fight make it happen.

Give People an Outlet
No matter how often you tell people they can feel free to speak their mind, they are going to be more hesitant around management. You could have an incredibly open organizational hierarchy, but people will rarely say exactly what’s on their mind.

As such, to really develop a culture of feedback in your remote work, it’s important to establish another way for employees to express themselves. For example, you could set up an ombudsman program where people can discuss what’s bothering them under the protection of anonymity. Or, you could outsource your entire HR organization to a professional employer organization, streamlining this aspect of your business while also giving people an outside entity to speak to.

When you go this route, you can have this third party report on the general thoughts and feelings of your employees, which will make people, feel more comfortable that they won’t be singles out or reprimanded for speaking out against the way things are done.

Follow Through on Suggestions
If you want people to feel as though their opinions are valued—something critical to creating a feedback culture—then you need to make sure you follow through when people bring things to your attention. Of course you don’t need to implement every suggestion, but you do need to try.

In the cases where change just simply is not possible, make sure to discuss why this is the case. During your monthly meeting, let people know you’re aware of their concerns, and then explain to them why their suggestions cannot be accommodated, perhaps indicating at the same time that you’re going to continue to look for alternatives.

If you do this, then your employees will be able to see your words as more than just words. It will become clear to them that you care about what they have to say, and that your request for feedback is not just lip service but rather a genuine attempt at including them in the running of the business.

Work Hard to Build Trust with Remote Workers
Remote workers tend to fall out of the loop. Since they’re not in the office, it’s common to “forget” about them. And when this happens, you can be sure that they are not going to want to offer any feedback.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Make sure to spend time getting to know your remote workers by asking them about things other than work. Learn about their families and their hometowns, and do your best to cultivate a relationship as if saw this person in everyday in the office. Sure, it won’t be the same, but if you show people you care and that you trust them, then you can expect them to open up more when it comes time to solicit feedback.

Another way to build trust is by managing remote workers in a hands-off manner. Telecommuters value their flexibility, so if you harp over them at all times, then they will interpret this as an encroachment on their autonomy, which can create feelings of resentment and distance. Try to let people do their thing and enjoy the benefits of remote work, and you’ll soon see how this can open up the flow of communication and make it easier for you to learn about people’s thoughts and opinions.

Remote Workers Can Do It All
The most important thing to remember is that remote workers are the same as traditional workers in every sense. They may operate with different schedules and you may need to manage them a bit differently, but they are fully capable of doing everything your in-office employees can do, including offering feedback that can help make the company better.

About the Author: Jock Purtle is the founder and CEO of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He’s been an internet entrepreneur since he launched his first business when was 19-years-old, meaning his entire career has taken place online. He’s an expert on managing remote teams and enjoys sharing his experiences to help others.

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There Are Several Benefits To Upgrading Your Business Office Tools

June 12th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in ATS TimeWork OnDemand | Cloud Computing | Office | Productivity | Time and Attendance Toronto - (Comments Off on There Are Several Benefits To Upgrading Your Business Office Tools)

As creatures of habits, many of us do not like change and are emotionally attached to just about everything we own or things we like to do on a daily basis; from our handheld devices, to work stations or our favorite morning latte at the local coffee shop. Of course, when it comes to things like office software or hardware, we need to make sure we are using technology that is not from the 80s, otherwise it could impact productivity.

Windows10 has been around for a few years and despite its gradual adoption use in the world of business, it still has its detractors. Hopefully, you are still not using WindowsXP? And, if you are, hopefully you and/or your company’s IT manager are technology wizards with the smarts to support it.

There Are Several Benefits To Upgrading Your Business Office Tools

Sometimes, upgrading is a pain and most of us hate it. Here are some useful tips from an article titled 7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Now by Howard Wen for Business News Daily.

“1. Ransomware prevention
Computers running older versions of Windows are more vulnerable to ransomware. Windows 10 has a feature to thwart ransomware from locking up a user’s work and personal documents on their computer. The Windows Defender Security Center tool in Windows 10 lets you whitelist, or approve, which apps can access and change files saved in the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos folders.

  1. Stronger malware security tools

Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender Exploit Guard, which scans for, quarantines and removes malware. In addition to ransomware protection, it includes other tools that can be used to stop zero-day attacks, to block and quarantine malicious programs on your computer or office network, and to isolate infected computers on your network. Upgrading to Windows 10 gives you the option of subscribing to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. It’s a more sophisticated, cloud-based service for managing security threats across your business’s Windows 10 computers.

  1. Safer web browsing

Windows Defender Application Guard is available in Windows 10 Enterprise and Professional. It lets you use the Edge browser inside a virtual machine. If you or an employee unknowingly contracts malware by visiting a malicious website, it won’t be able to damage the computer or the network, because it will be confined inside this virtual machine.

  1. Keep your frequent business contacts on the taskbar

The My People feature lets you pin your business contacts as shortcut icons on the Windows 10 taskbar. Click the icon of a person to email them or start a video call through Skype. You can pin up to 10 contacts on the taskbar.

  1. More efficient updates for Windows 10

A technology feature in the Windows Update tool, the Unified Update Platform (UUP), significantly streamlines the update process. UUP identifies new changes to Windows 10 that your computer needs and downloads only those specific updates. Your computer won’t have to download a larger package. Microsoft says UUP can reduce the download size of Windows updates by up to 35 percent, sparing storage space on your computer and the time it takes to install updates.

  1. Sync your work between your personal and work computers

The Timeline feature saves “snapshots” of the Windows applications you were using at a given point of time. By clicking the Task View icon on the taskbar, you can select a snapshot to continue working on something where you left off. These snapshots are synced across your different Windows 10 computers (if you are signed on to them with the same Microsoft user account). For example, you can create a new spreadsheet on Excel on your home computer and work on it later on another computer at the office.

  1. Configure your business’s computers quickly

Windows Autopilot lets you set up system configurations that can be downloaded from the cloud onto your business’s Windows 10 computers. For example, an employee can take a new computer, connect it to your office network, and it will automatically be configured to your business’s required settings. A system configuration can be tailored for a particular employee. This Windows 10 feature makes configuring, managing, and resetting your business’ computers easier, faster, and more secure.”

Bottom-line: There is only so much you can do with older technology, whether its business software or hardware, once it starts to impact workforce productivity the inevitability of loss profits are sure to follow.

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Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

February 13th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | Leave Management | Productivity | Talent Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes)

Some companies extolled the virtues of their corporate philosophy in print and through the recruitment stages as an organization that cherish talent. It’s one thing to brag about how wonderful you are as a company, but it’s something entirely different if those things you talked about during the interview process, to lure good talent, do not materialize, once these candidates, become employees of your organization.

Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

In writing for The HR Digest, Diana Coker dispenses some advice that you should heed in an article titled Dumb HR Policies That Demotivate Employees. Here are some of the things to avoid:

Merging Sick Leave and Vacation
This is one of the stupid rules most offices are still upholding till date, despite deep sensitization on this policy. Forcing your employees to take their vacations because they are sick is the dumbest thing any manager would do. As a manager, would you personally like to have your precious vacation because you are sick? The answer is NO if you want to be sincere. We all plan our vacations and deserve the best moment from it. Offices that merge sick leave and vacation will not only demotivate but encourage their employees to come to work sick, which means low productivity as well as exposing the healthy workers to the sickness if it’s contagious. At the tail end, the sickness goes round to everyone susceptible to it – going round to individuals that would still bring them to the office for more decrease in productivity. If an employee is sick and cannot go home because it would take away his or her vacation, they’ll force themselves to work demotivated.

 Banning Social Media
Recognizing social media as a channel for pleasures and distraction is already offensive and deprives your employees of a social life. Freedom to social media like Facebook or LinkedIn can help your employees to gain access to information that would help improve their performances. You can put it that banning social media limits your employee. Even if the employees are not being very professional as you want, getting their job done should be a criterion. Some employees go worst by banning internet use, that’s completely outrageous and a fight to force down productivity. Instead, keep your employee’s attention focused but don’t take away the trust.

 Crushing self-expression
I still can’t believe that some offices still keep up with this policy. Can employees not display personal belongings on their desk? That’s one of the dumb HR policies that shouldn’t have made it to the 20th century. It’s true that work environments deserve some level of sanity, but at the same time, people deserve to be who they are. This policy creates anxiety at work; it increases stress and renders break times invalid. Allow your employees to create a homey atmosphere. That helps them to be happier at work which improves productivity.

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6 Tips To Ace Your Phone Interview

September 26th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Careers | HR | Productivity | Recruitment - (Comments Off on 6 Tips To Ace Your Phone Interview)

Many of today’s companies are now using telephone interviews for the hiring process. It’s often used as a way to gauge a prospective candidate’s interest and also figure out if there is a fit before conducting a face-to-face interview. In some cases, the telephone interview will be one of several interviews a candidate will need to go through before they are hired by a company.

Telephone interviews are also used by companies as a way to screen applicants, and if you don’t make it past the telephone interview, chances are, you won’t be invited for another one. In her most recent article, The HR Digest Presenting tips for phone interview with a step-by-step guide Diane Booker offers some wonderful advice for would-be job seekers on the best approach to you use when doing a phone interview.

Here are those 6 tips to help you ace that interview

Step 1: a heads-up about the company
Irrespective of the nature of the job interview, it is necessary for the candidate to do his research. You must have enough knowledge about the company and what kind of services it offers. Read about the company in such a manner that you get an idea of the kind of duties you will be assigned according to your job profile.

Step 2: make notes
When we have a face-to-face interaction with a person, we pay more attention to the conversation and have our doubts clarified accordingly. While on a telephonic conversation, we might miss out on some factors. This is why it is important to jot down a list of questions you would like to ask the employer beforehand. Such a practice is to avoid any misconceptions and to make sure that all your doubts are clarified.

Step 3: stay hydrated
For a usual job interview, your attire, body language, and facial expressions help create an impact on the interviewer. But on a phone interview, you only have your voice and intonations to strike an impression. To make sure that you succeed at doing so, the most basic thing to do is stay hydrated. Have a glass of water before the expected time of the phone call. By doing so, your voice will sound clear and you will be able to articulate your thoughts well. Having water will also calm down your nerves.

6 Tips To Ace Your Phone Interview

Step 4: keep your documents in front of you
The HR of the company you have applied to might have already asked for your documents and CV through email. These documents will also be presented to your interviewer. Based on this, he will ask you questions. To help you answer these questions smoothly, keep a copy of all these documents in front of your throughout the interview.

Step 5: pick a spot for your phone interview
To make sure that the interviewer’s questions are audible during the interview, pick a quiet spot. This spot must be such that it’s devoid of external disturbances and has excellent cell phone reception. Preferably, this place can be a part of your home which you are well accustomed to. Make sure that none of the musical devices in the house are on and close the doors and windows to avoid further disturbances.

Step 6: smile, even if it’s not visible
A number of psychological studies have proven that a smile can have a positive effect on the person you are interacting with. But is it applicable to a telephonic conversation as well? Absolutely. If you smile while talking, the person at the other end of the phone call can recognize the smile in your voice. This will work in your favor. And also make sure you are calm. Be confident and you will nail the phone interview with some simple tips!

Telephone interviews can be tricky since all you have to rely on is the voice of the person on the other end. And, because of that, you cannot afford to make mistakes, if you do make one, it might be forgiven but too many of them can will lead to failure of a second interview and ultimately the job.

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What You Should And Should Not Wear In The Office During Summer

June 21st, 2017 | Posted by ATS in HR | Leave Management | Productivity | Time and Attendance Canada | Time and Attendance Toronto - (Comments Off on What You Should And Should Not Wear In The Office During Summer)

Every year summer along comes summer with its high temperatures, and we all scramble for our shorts, tank-tops and other casual wear, but not wearing the right clothes in the office can send the wrong message. Many of today’s technology organizations tend to be more relaxed about employee work attire and it’s not unusual to see employees wearing jeans and tee-shirts at these companies. And, although this is usually a happy time, you should still be cautious about what you choose to wear during summer in the office.

What You Should And Should Not Wear In The Office During Summer

In a Career Builder article, summer attire taboos, here are 8 tips for maintaining your business-casual and/or professional look during those hot days.

  1. Flip-flops
    Professional or dressy sandals are acceptable in many workplaces, and you know better than anyone if you work in such a place. Flip-flops and other recreational footwear are rarely acceptable for the same reason blowing a bubble with gum in a meeting is inappropriate: You look out of place and inconsiderate to your audience. Plus, that annoying sound of the flip-flop slapping against your heel will not make you any friends.
  2. Sunglasses indoors
    You’re not Bono. Yes, the sunlight is blinding when you walk outside or drive to work, but sunglasses don’t belong indoors. People can’t tell if you’re paying attention to them when your eyes are hidden behind dark lenses, and everyone will wonder if your pupils were just dilated.
  3. Shorts
    Shorts automatically take the professional image down a notch, which could be a good thing for some places. For example, if you walk into a store that sells surfboards and wetsuits, you want to be greeted by someone in shorts and a tee, not a suit and briefcase. In most workplaces, however, shorts detract from a professional demeanor. Even nice shorts that are more suited for a day the country club than an afternoon painting your kitchen aren’t as pulled together as a pair of trousers.
  4. Tank tops
    Regardless of the season, you should be wary of showing too much skin. In the summer, tank tops are prevalent in many wardrobes, and you might be tempted to sport one to work. Don’t. From an aesthetic standpoint, tanks make people think of a six-pack of beer, not of a six-figure salary. A professional look should lean more toward the latter.
    Another issue that exists in some organizations is the idea that no one, male or female, should have bare arms. Remember when Michelle Obama took flak for her sleeveless blouses? As with many of these tips, use your best judgment. Unless your occupation involves some form of labour where sleeves affect your work, you should keep your upper arms covered.
  5. Funny shirts or shirts from your vacation destination
    Your “I’m Not as Think as You Drunk I Am” shirt might make your best friends laugh, but your boss, colleagues and customers or clients will disagree. Clothing shouldn’t announce itself, so steer clear of humor. And shirts bearing the name of your last vacation destination will probably make your overworked colleagues begrudge your time off.
  6. Not being prepared
    Even if you’re allowed to be casual during the summer, have a backup outfit or piece of clothing to dress up your attire. If you’re in jeans and a plain T-shirt and your biggest client calls a last-minute meeting, it wouldn’t hurt to have a least a blazer or nicer shirt on hand. Being prepared is never a bad thing.
  7. Anything see-through
    Another tip that should go without saying, but just in case: Skin and undergarments should not be seen through the fabric you’re wearing. Lightweight linen that’s breezy and comfortable on the beach is inappropriate at work, not to mention uncomfortable for your co-workers.
  8. Testing the limits
    If your employer gives you wiggle room with the dress code by using words such as “appropriate” and “reasonable” to describe acceptable attire, use your brain. A ketchup-stained T-shirt, scandalously short shorts and dilapidated tennis shoes are acceptable in your personal life, but not at work. And you know that. So don’t ruin summer wardrobes for everyone.

Most people are happy during summer after the dark months of fall and winter. However, you should always make sure do not go more casual than your company culture allows. And, when in doubt, look around you and observe how other people are dressing. If you are still not sure and your company does have an employee handbook, ask your boss or the company’s HR manager.

The Ongoing Debate About Working Remotely Rears It’s Head Again

May 30th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Cloud Computing | Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on The Ongoing Debate About Working Remotely Rears It’s Head Again)

The debate about employees working remotely won’t stop anytime soon. The most famous debate was back in 2013, when incoming CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, informed employees that the practice of working from home would no longer be an option.

Fast forward to 2017 when it was revealed that IBM, purveyor of its employees working remotely, plans to follow in the footsteps of Yahoo’s! work from home policy. An excerpt from an article ‘So Much for IBM’s Bright Idea on Working Remotely’ reads, in part;

The Ongoing Debate About Working Remotely Rears It’s Head Again

“Tech companies are supposed to be the leaders. So it’s surprising that two of the largest, IBM and Apple, are moving backward, preparing for office life in the decades ahead to look a lot like 2005. They are likely to be wrong.

IBM is ending its liberal policy that encouraged remote work, now forcing employees back into offices to facilitate collaboration. Meanwhile, Apple is preparing to open its vast new $5 billion corporate campus in Silicon Valley.

For midlife millennials, flexible work arrangements and remote work — the kinds of work IBM is abandoning — are what workers will want. And rather than being a desirable attraction, Apple’s shiny new headquarters located in a region with million-dollar home prices may be an albatross for the company, if even well-paid workers cannot afford to live near the office”.

Only time will tell if this is a PR stunt designed to boost productivity or if it is something else entirely. Either way, romanticizing about a by-gone era will be seen for what it is, just an attempt to embrace the traditional way of going to work, that is no longer relevant in world of Cloud Computing, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and advance technology.

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Productivity Is Important And, So Is Happiness At Work

May 22nd, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software | Workforce - (Comments Off on Productivity Is Important And, So Is Happiness At Work)

Every company wants a productivity workforce and why not? It can yield wonderful results, that include- happy customers. And, happy customers  will usually tell other companies with their industry, friends and/or family if they are happy with a product or service. However, in order to have a productive workforce, you have to be aware of your employees’ morale. A company with unhappy employees and a high turnover rate is unlikely to be a welcoming place for new and existing employees.

Productivity Is Important And, So Is Happiness At Work

So, how do you create a company culture that has happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day? Anna Verasai wrote a wonderful article for The HR Digest titled Happiness at Workplace is Not a Myth, and it includes, some of the following tips:

“Co-workers Bitten by the Happiness Bug
One thing no one of us can deny is the power of positive vibes. When you are around people who are sociable and have a tendency to chit-chat every once in a while happily it instantly makes working easier. Also, a smile is such a powerful tool that can brighten your day in just an eye-blink. Some colleagues are always there to help you get up when you are down, with a warm hug or maybe, your favorite ice-cream.

The Entertainment Factor
Now we all know one thing for sure that happening activities can easily boost your mood. A hang-out session after office, a funny co-worker, celebrating someone’s special day, dinner or movie plans with co-workers, it is so easy to create happiness at workplace, isn’t it?

Ambience Matters
There is a reason why experts say that the interiors and lighting around your desk can affect your mood at work. Try to keep your desk tidy and do not deck it up with files and folders all around. Hang some pictures with good memories, have a book you can read, take short breaks, or put up some fancy decors. Have a minimalistic approach so that you do not clog yourself mentally or your desk.”

So, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. Let your employees have fun while doing their jobs and you will be amazed at the results, including; increased loyalty and productivity and yes,  an increase to your company’s financial bottom line.