The facilities management company Farnek is rolling out a system that will track the activities of its 3,500 maintenance workers, cleaners and security guards.
The company is implementing a system based on a Google platform run through smartphones and watches that allows it to identify exactly where staff members are, and how long they spend on a specific site.
This information will then be used for its own payroll purposes, as well as for billing clients.
Markus Oberlin, the chief executive of Farnek, said that smartphones were being issued to all of its maintenance staff, as well as supervisors of cleaners and security guards.
The cleaners and guards themselves will be issued smart bands. The company will issue about 2,500 bands, and about 500 smartphones to staff who do not already own one.
“The watch we use has originally been developed for parents, for children’s supervision,” Mr Oberlin said.
“You can also talk to the watch, give messages and you can geofence it. So when your child is at school, if they go past a certain border you get an alarm.”
For Farnek, the technology has two benefits.
First, it can feed this data directly into its payroll system, cutting out the requirement for employees to fill out and process paper time sheets.
Second, it offers Farnek’s customers greater transparency over who is in locations and for how long, which also leads to more accurate billing.
Mr Oberlin said that a pilot period has already taken place and there were no concerns raised about privacy or excessive monitoring from staff members.
Mr Oberlin added: “At the end of the day, the employee understands that he gets paid exactly as he works.
“We’ve sometimes had issues in the past where somebody works overtime and it hasn’t been recorded properly.
“In this way, it’s recorded exactly as per minutes and seconds.”
It also prevents abuse of the time-sheet system by people booking too many hours, he said.
Farnek pointed to a study by US corporate-investigations firm Kessler International, which conducted an anonymous poll of more than 500 US employees, which found that more than 30 per cent admitted to falsifying time sheets and 80 per cent admitted to conducting some form of personal activity during working hours.
Meanwhile, maintenance staff with smartphones can be sent regular training videos being created by the company to walk employees through common scenarios such as servicing air conditioners.
“That means we can give our employees [the tools] so they can double-check before they maintain a critical asset. “They can watch it so they don’t make any mistakes,” Mr Oberlin said.
“We can see how many times the employee watched the video, which can also be important for health and safety. Let’s assume one of the employees did something wrong and we see that he did not watch the video. We can use this during the performance appraisal.”
Employees can also watch videos during downtime, such as travel to and from sites on company buses, Mr Oberlin said.
And if they are working on a project where they need advice, they can send images to technical support staff at headquarters.
A Google spokesman told The National that although its platform had been used to create Farnek’s employee tracker, a third party vendor, Exeo, had developed the time and attendance monitoring system used by the company.
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