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Par Marilou Lachance | 14 October 2021

The Future Lies in Automation

Using automation in daily life

Think about it. How do we manage to wake up every morning? Who sets the coffee machine so it starts to brew 10 minutes before you get up? Have you also made arrangements to pay for your phone plan by preauthorized debit from your bank account? Who hasn’t dreamt of being behind the wheel of one of those self-parking vehicles?

If, like me, your outdoor lights turn on and off as the brightness of the day turns into night, you’ve figured it all out! We all have better things to do than to repeat these monotonous and regular tasks day after day.

By freeing ourselves of these recurring tasks, we have more time for ourselves and we avoid banal oversights. We realize savings by optimizing our morning routine, by reducing the electricity consumed unnecessarily during the day and by paying our bills on time. All that, because we have decided to use automation in our daily life.

Now, let’s step out of our homes and see what automation can do for us in a professional setting.

Automation in the workplace

We must admit it, we spend the majority of our day at work. So why not automatize some of our tasks at work as we do at home?

Keeping in mind that what we want to do here is to simplify our life, to avoid costly mistakes and to save time, well, some application developers have developed software that does just that. As a matter of fact, these automated systems can help us fulfill our administrative responsibilities, such as

  • Pre-fill forms to avoid input errors;
  • Access files online from various departments;
  • Sort data to accelerate the hiring selection process;
  • Share files to facilitate a layoff process;
  • Synchronize working hours with an agenda;
  • Send requests for time off and give approval;
  • Manage payroll and determine eligibility for benefits;
  • Prepare tax receipts.

In an article on Elon Musk’s recipe for efficiency, published in the French Canadian newspaper Les Affaires in September 2021, entitled La recette d’Elon Musk pour gagner en efficacité, automation is indeed part of the equation. According to the cofounder of Tesla, it is the very last step used to improve one’s performance in the workplace.

An automated system pays off


Furthermore, with a system where everything is done digitally, we avoid printing costs, unnecessary handling and using up physical space for storage. Cloud computing allows us to easily find the information that is requested or needed. Let’s face it, this is much faster than to have to stand in front of a filing cabinet and sort through a bunch of folders one by one!

By devolving certain tasks to an automated software system, employees can focus their energy on what is most important. Human beings are irreplaceable when it comes to performing complex and creative tasks. So no, robots cannot completely serve as substitutes for employees. However, they can facilitate their lives and allow them to invest their time where it counts.

Par Alice T. | 29 September 2021

Let’s talk about “Happy employees.”

Let’s talk about “Happy employees.”

Today’s hot topic: Retention of staff. Worldwide, recruiting employees in the workforce is a real challenge for managers. To be able to keep on experiencing growth and ensure an organization’s sustainability, all managers must think about how to attract a skilled workforce and find ways to build its sense of loyalty to the business.

Now, let’s talk about the advantage of having happy employees working for you. As an employer, what can you do, because ultimately, you cannot be the master holding the key to the happiness of all your employees? Many factors remain beyond your reach. However, some responsibilities do rest on your shoulders every day.

Where do you start? There are many possible solutions. Let’s go with three principles an employer can adopt to promote happiness, productivity and loyalty among employees.

 

1. Respect rules and honour collective agreements

Respecting the provisions of a collective agreement is essential in maintaining a healthy and lasting relationship with your employees. In addition to contributing to the promotion of your organization’s values, it will create a pleasant and orderly work environment. Oh, STRUCTURE! The good old indication of a healthy company.

However, when it comes to orchestrating work schedules, the structure can become quite complex: collective agreement provisions, sick leave, last-minute replacements, call back lists, etc. The more variables there are, the higher the risk of error. And everyone knows that compliance with the collective agreement is a must.

The task is also a true headache for the human resources department. So, why not go digital and let a schedule generator figure out a way to make things work? And there you go! You avoid possible problems, and you bring your employees some happiness.

 

2. Establish effective and consistent working methods

In the long run, everyday irritants are the most damaging to the well-being of employees. Irritants annoy, stress and make employees unhappy. Between you and me, we must admit that administrative processes can sometimes be cumbersome, confusing and ineffective. It’s time to do something about it.

How do you get rid of these irritants? Let’s take a daily task such as manually creating and managing schedules. Imagine using a method that allows you to automate the process of managing schedules that radically simplifies this task… If simplicity rhymes with bliss (who needs a rhyme, really!), it is happiness assured.

Believe me, you can only achieve a positive outcome from making your employees happy. According to a study conducted by Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, employees who are happy in their job are 31% more productive, 9 times more loyal and 55% more creative.

 

3. Facilitate your employees’ work by providing effective tools

Delegate, delegate, and delegate! Delegation is part of a manager’s reality.

The task of managing can be quite demanding (more often than not). Why not give access rights to team members who can take on different tasks, such as approving requests for time off? Also, your employees will also benefit from shared responsibilities and will show their commitment to their colleagues. Among other things, employees will be able to fill in their own availability forms, or submit their requests for time off.

 

A Work Schedule Generator

An organization’s efficiency and performance evolve in line with the well-being of its employees. So why not put in place solutions that improve the work climate by reducing the level of stress, the risk of errors related to the collective agreement and the administrative burden.

A schedule generator like Timesphere allows you to tap your employees’ full potential and eliminate some of those daily irritants. The implementation of an automated scheduling system is a conceivable means by which you can improve your staff’s work environment and contribute to their happiness at work.

Of course, as you will have understood, who says happy employees says increased productivity, but above all, it says improved retention of staff!

Par Marilou Lachance | 7 September 2021

Creating automated schedules in 5 steps using Timesphere’s planning module

Creating automated schedules in 5 steps using Timesphere’s planning module

Do you wish to save time by using a scheduling automation software, but wonder about the complexity of the process of implementation when one is not a computer whiz?

 

If you are among those for whom algorithms are connected with a world of complex and somewhat magical formulas (incredibly complicated, really), it’s time to illuminate your world! At Timesphere, our automation software is developed BY computer science professionals FOR business managers like you.

 

Here is an overview of the 5 steps that need to be taken to easily and automatically create work schedules. You can even delegate some tasks to members of your team!

Step 1. Provide Employee Information

In order for the software to manage and set work schedules, you must enter into the system information on each employee such as their name, telephone number, address, position title, date of entry into service, etc.

For each employee record, you will also need to provide, for example, structured information related to an employee’s skills and abilities in order to ensure that any assignment is completed by the right employee at the right time.

PSST! This is also a great way to keep employee information on record (such as birth dates). Never again will you forget to wish an employee a happy birthday. Because this information is stored, the system will automatically send you a reminder (and you can take the credit!)

Step 2. Specify the Sets of Rules to Follow

In order for the system to be able to take into consideration your organization’s internal practices, and because each organization has its own collective agreement and business rules (yes, this applies to all your rules!), you need to feed those rules into the system.

To allow the system to apply the formulas based on the particularities of your collective agreement and internal policies, you will be required to input all the sets of rules that must be taken into consideration when, for example, assigning a work shift or when seeking a replacement for a shift. This information – or planning constraints – can relate to the number of hours of work in a day or shifts per week, to the limit of consecutive hours an employee can work or the minimum number of shifts or hours of work per week that need to be assigned to them, or to the minimum number of hours of time off between two shifts. Note that the set of rules you provide can apply to your entire organization, to a group of employees or to a particular employee. Imagine the endless possibilities.

From then on, you will save hours of frustrations that build when having to plan and manage work schedules while taking into account all the rules of your organization. The good news is that you will only need to set this up once, because Timesphere’s planning module has a superhuman memory. You can now simply rely on Timesphere!

Step 3. Share Your Access Rights

Delegate, delegate, and delegate! Delegation is part of a manager’s reality.

The task of managing can be quite demanding (more often than not). Why not give access rights to team members who can take on different tasks such as approving requests for time off? Also, your employees will also benefit from shared responsibilities and will show their commitment to their colleagues. Among other things, employees will be able to fill in their own availability forms, or submit their requests for time off.

Step 4. Define the Needs of Your Workforce

Now that you have inputted into your system the values that need to be considered (employee information, rules and access rights), put your system to the test: generate a schedule!

Simply select a time slot and define your staffing needs. You will be able to specify, among other things, the number of employees as well as the skills required for a given work period or shift. You will also be able to set the requirements by encapsulating them into commands or projects. That’s it!

Believe it or not, the system will do the work for you (and you are the one who gets paid).

Step 5. Watch the ‘magic’ happen!

Schedules are automatically generated according to the number of staff and skills required, while taking into account absentees and collective agreement rules and internal policies.

When a change occurs, each employee receives a notification on their portal. Also, automatic reminders are sent by email. Thus, all members of a given team have access to the latest version of the schedule through an app installed on their mobile device or from a computer connected to the Internet. There is no longer any reason for an employee to lose their schedule, to forget a shift, or not to be informed of changes (there is no need to play the broken telephone game, where information can be distorted).

Once all the information has been entered into the system (steps 1 and 2), all you need to do is repeat steps 3 to 5 to automatically generate work schedules (remember that the system has a superhuman memory). Also, you may change, at any given time, an employee’s personal and detailed information or the set of rules from your collective agreement or organization.

A scheduling automation software such as Timesphere has the power to save you time, to facilitate management activities while limiting the risk of errors, and to strengthen cooperation within the members of your team. And above all, the software is easy to use!

Go ahead and experience the magic of Timesphere!

Par Marilou Lachance | 27 August 2021

The Perfect Future for Automated Management

The Perfect Future for Automated Management

Are you an entrepreneur, a director or a human resources manager? Tell me, how should one manage employee work schedules in 2021? What if I told you that the days of Excel spreadsheets are over… that powerful algorithms have been developed and can easily and efficiently be used to save time and avoid costly errors? Would you breathe a sigh of relief?

I don’t know about you, but I have the strange impression that the older you get, the less hours there are in a day. It’s exponential really! Let’s paint a picture of the past to pinpoint the moment where Father Time started to play tricks on us, and see how the present and the future can provide solutions to address problems that relate to management methods in the workplace.

 

The Past

As age brings wisdom, if there are sufficient years behind you for you to have known paper scheduling, hats off to you. One must have great patience to rack one’s brain using handwritten notes and bringing changes to every shift, while taking into consideration holidays, time off or special requests while respecting collective agreement terms.

Since the popularization of the computer, sheets of paper have given way to electronic spreadsheets, but even then, the method of operation is still largely manual, not to mention all the papers still lying around. So much time is lost just entering and exporting data or managing specific requests to meet staff requirements. On top of this, you must make sure to inform all the members of your team of any changes while ensuring that the whole process was conducted in an orderly manner according to legal obligations and agreements.

 

The Present Nature of the Challenges

How many hours does your human resources team spend going through a list of names in search of possible replacements without success just to see their level of stress escalate? How many hours of overtime or errors related to the failure to respect the collective agreement have caused you a great deal of trouble or your employees evident dissatisfaction?

In 2021, the global pandemic has changed the overall face of our work environment and our use of computers and mobile devices has evolved significantly. Employers who offer flexibility are increasingly popular and employees have an active interest in the modernization of working processes given that they want to reclaim their valuable time. Labour retention has also become a major issue.

Consequently, one must know how to put in place the tools to use to simplify workplace management so time – yours and your employees’ – can be invested where it is required most.

 

A Perfect Progressive Future 

Imagine that all your personnel is in perfect synchronicity, having access on hand (literally through an app on their mobile phone or through their computer) to the latest updated version of their work schedule. An automated scheduling system is the key to free up your time while reducing the risk of error. Your employees will be delighted with the way the system facilitates communications, follow-ups and the search for replacements. No matter the size of your business, the system strictly follows the rules set out in your collective agreement and manages the list of possible replacements in a simplified way.

In addition to facilitating the processes your management and human resources team must complete, your employees will be delighted by the degree of autonomy they gain by using themselves the online portal to submit a request for time off, to announce their availability or to arrange a shift swap. Also, the platform is intuitive to use and employees get instant access to all their documents.

This is a time for progress. It’s time to put an end to errors caused by outdated management models and to welcome an automated scheduling system with all the flexibility and efficiency it ensures. This is a way to resolve many problems to the satisfaction of employees and managers alike! 

Some say time is money, but time is in fact more valuable than that. At the dawn of this post-pandemic era, your employees have realized this. How about you?

Par Alice T. | 8 June 2021

Vacation leave

Vacation leave

Did you say vacation? A time of absolute relaxation, a total break from daily routines. Don’t we all look forward to getting some time off?

For people in charge of managing schedules and replacements, any request for time off can be a source of stress. Finding replacements can be challenging; finding someone to supervise them even more. Will rules be strictly followed? Will everyone comply with overtime guidelines? Will the overtime log be properly maintained? For example, when David leaves for his holiday, and you need to shift around three employees at the same time based on competency and seniority, will all rules be followed?

Planning and reorganizing during this crucial period must often be done quickly, usually within the same time frame allotted for regular schedule planning.

So here is the solution: automatically generated employee schedules. It’s our little miracle! Our software automates the scheduling process while taking into account collective agreement terms and conditions, overtime, trading of shifts between employees, all requirements really.

So when David comes back to work, he won’t believe it, for his manager will also be relaxed since they too took some holidays because they had the time to do so.

It’s now your time to take a break from managing employee schedules!

 

Par Timesphere | 5 February 2021

Time Smarts

Time Smarts

As a young boy, whenever I found myself in the family living room, I used to love watching the long hand of our wall clock mark the passage of time. Sometimes, I would even witness the subtile movement of the hour hand. Geez, how slow and unhurried it was, I thought to myself. I was not aware at that time that the modest distance travelled by this little hand was in fact equal to the 3,600 rotations the long hyperactive sweep hand had valiantly completed. Without knowing, an extraordinary spectacle, that was going to change the rest of my life, was taking place right before my very eyes; for this concept of time has never left my side and has defined who I am today.

This notion of time, the time that I will save, but that I will also loose; the time that I will try to divide, that I will try to occupy … that I will try to forget. And the time, one day certainly, I will regret not having taken. What is time other than a nonrenewable resource necessary to our existence that money can’t buy? We cannot enslave it, nor tame it. Time knows how to play with us: we can get caught in its whirligig, but it can also be cut short. We can try to manage it, but always, we remain at its mercy. As Gregory Porter sings: ‘Does life just spin round like the hands of a clock? Are we just pushing time? Or is time pushing us?’

So, what do we do with this time? Firstly, we need to become aware of it. Live intensely as if we were that long sweeping hand, while savouring the present moment at the pace of the hour hand. One must take the time, and when one can, give it too, and even spend it with others. Since everything is relative, a minute can sometimes feel like an eternity, and time can fly when you’re having fun. Be vigilant, creative, live in the present and don’t get caught up in the traps of comfort and conformism.  

Why then, do our systems, businesses, and organizations seem reluctant to take simple actions that could be so beneficial to our collective well-being? We must provide ourselves with the means to achieve our most intrinsic ambitions and live freely. We must eliminate useless constraints by using, for example, an automated employee scheduling software.

Imagine a tool that allows you to respect your collective agreement terms and conditions while allowing the effective management of replacements, and periods of leave… Imagine being in your employees’ shoes, and being able to indicate, with a simple click, your availability and your preferred time-off for your holidays; or as a supervisor, being able to quickly take a look at the hours an employee has worked and control their time.

Imagine yourself enjoying the time that is given to you, feeling at peace. Now that is ‘time smarts’.

Par Timesphere | 18 January 2021

How to survive staff shortages in the healthcare system by using shift bidding

How to survive staff shortages in the healthcare system by using shift bidding 

For many months, employees from the healthcare system have appealed for help over and over again and they are reaching a point of exhaustion. One of the main reasons for this sad situation is the shortage of staff, which makes life difficult for organizations when they have to fill vacant shifts. Not only is it difficult for employees of the healthcare system who feel powerless, but it is also difficult for patients who must face disruptions in services. Can we do things differently and find ways to alleviate the pressure in order to create a collaborative employer/employee environment? 

Even after the introduction of a range of measures such as hiring more staff, upgrading some positions and centralizing callback lists, the situation in our establishments persists. What if shift bidding could help? The effective use of schedule planning tools, by means of an employee portal, enables employers to post and put up at auction vacant shifts, which allows employees to manifest their interest to work an extra shift. For the organization, this process means less calls, provides an effective method of communication, encourages collaboration between the employer and employees, while respecting collective agreement provisions. 

The process is simple: 

  1. By means of an employee portal, the employer posts shifts that are vacant for the coming week. An employer can set the length of time for which a notice is posted (e.g. employees have 24 hours to manifest their interest for a particular shift). 
  2. During this time employees receive notices based on their sphere of competence and known availability and can prioritize the shifts they would like to work.
  3. When the posting period is over, the system crosschecks offers of interest with collective agreement conditions, such as seniority or order of priority, and assigns shifts to employees. 

There are many advantages to this approach. Firstly, the personnel assigned to the callback list will see a significant reduction in the number of calls it needs to make to fill vacant shifts. Facts show that, for a majority of replacement calls made, the use of an employee portal can replace dozens if not hundreds of phone calls. Secondly, employees don’t have to wait for one or more phone calls to know if they are working additional shifts or not. Just with a few clicks, an employee can indicate her or his interest for a particular shift, establish an order of preference and communicate her or his choice to the employer. Lastly, the organization, through an efficient system, ensures full compliance will all collective agreement dispositions and eases the undue pressure on all personnel. At any given time, the organization has a clear picture of what is going on and can increase the focus on its operations. 

The number of shifts up for bid, the bidding window and the offered opportunities can vary. Beyond the bidding function, the employee portal has many other unique and useful capabilities such as an absence request function, a shift exchange function, a current work schedule, and a messaging capability. The system is customizable; all you have to do is configure each function and make the functions accessible to employees. 

An efficient system can facilitate the way work replacements are managed and should be able to adapt to the needs of an organization while taking into account collective agreement provisions and organizational rules.

The crisis that the healthcare system is experiencing is forcing organizations to change their methods. To support other operational functions, such as staff recruitment and work reorganization, an organization must look at ways to create a collaborative employer/employee environment. And that can be done. Not only does our solution allow organizations to save time and money, but alleviates the pressure felt by staff and the healthcare system, a system in dire need of help. 

About the author: Renaud Grimard, M.A.Sc.

Renaud Grimard, who is the founding president of Timesphere, attended Polytechnique Montréal, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree in engineering. He is constantly focused on providing the most complete, simple and technically advanced solution to managing and optimizing employee scheduling systems that the industry has to offer. 

Par Timesphere | 14 December 2020

A proven vaccine

A proven vaccine

The current context of the pandemic has not only exposed the weaknesses in our system, but it has also disrupted our practices. The worldwide Covid-19 crisis has led most employers to reflect upon their priorities and to review their practices.

As an example, just think about the growing phenomenon of telework.

This poses a serious challenge for many employers especially in the area of human resources management. For numerous organizations, this new reality requires that they undergo a structural transformation. Preparing complex work schedules by hand appears to be one of the tasks that demands close examination to avoid errors and to make monitoring activities possible, even from a distance. Any organization wants to prevent errors in resource allocation and remuneration calculation, avoid skill mismatches, budgeted labour cost overruns and poor departmental planning and limit administration and document handling costs.

Timesphere is a leader in the field of automated scheduling systems. It has developed a solution to suppress the troublesome and unfortunate symptoms that occur as a result of completing some tasks by hand. Our product, which can be adapted to your needs and can take into account your reality, will result in savings of time and money, thus allowing you the liberty to focus on operations and to invest saved sums in other initiatives to pursue organizational strategies should you wish to do so.

When you adopt our customizable automated schedule planning system, which can be adapted according to provisions relevant to your organization, you’ll gain significant practical benefits, such as:

  • Recording of hours worked by employees;
  • Managing schedules as per collective agreement provisions;
  • Managing shift exchanges;
  • Planning and managing vacation time … among other operations.

One of the principles of evolution and adaptation requires that one must waste the least amount of resources to reach an objective. Do you embody this principle? Trust us on this. Many of our clients will positively assert that Timesphere has offered them a way to simultaneously buy and save precious time.