Beacons in the Workplace: Employee time tracking and more
December 4, 2014
Beacons have percolated into our lives like no other technology has, in recent times. From malls to museums, to stadiums and parks, to hotels, these tiny devices seem to be changing our lives for the better, every single day.
The latest facet of our lives that iBeacon technology has entered is the workplace! How many of us would have thought that this technology, that has forever been touted as a ‘for retail’ technology will touch us across such varied verticals.
In this post we will discuss how offices can use beacons.
Beacons for employee time tracking
Beacons can be used for employee time tracking at the workplace thus helping offices and employees do away with the age-old ‘timesheet’ system. They also take the hassle out of clocking in and out employees.
Benefits of using beacons for employee time tracking:
1. Avoid long queues at the office check in stations, this is crucial for companies with large number of employees.
2. Helps solve the problem of travel time abuse and missed punches. This is useful, particularly in case of non-exempt employees who claim overtime pay, and can save businesses thousands of dollars in incorrectly paid hours.
3. Eliminates the human error involved with the payroll processing of written timesheets.
Replicon, a Calgary based firm that is popular for developing online timesheet and expense management systems for companies, has integrated iBeacon technology into its mobile app. Companies that have partnered with Replicon just need to install beacons at various entry and exit points, and employees are required to download Replicon’s mobile app. Every time an app comes in proximity of a beacon, it ‘wakes’ up the beacon and the relevant timestamp data is sent to the time management database. This helps in collecting accurate check-in times down to the second. The same process ensues every time employees step out for a break or lunch, checking them in and out whenever they pass an entry and exit beacon respectively.
Such kind of implementations will definitely make Human Resource managers rejoice!
Employing beacons on office premises not only helps the employer, but employees too. Employees can easily figure out the exact location of their colleagues. This is useful particularly for large office campuses with a number of buildings. All that employees need to do is to sign into the app when they enter office premises. The app automatically updates their location to the backend, based on the beacon that it is camping on, thus allowing other colleagues to locate them within the campus.
Office Buddy, an app built during India’s first Beacon App Hack Day, works on the aforementioned principle. The app also displays important company updates that are contextually relevant to users. It also allows businesses to capture the check-in and check-out time of employees based on data captured in the backend.
Beacons for helping employees manage their tasks better
Beacons placed around employees’ desks can be used to quickly remind the employees about their tasks for the day. This can be done by linking up the default iOS Reminders app with specific beacons.
Moreover, with iOS8 enabling beacon-triggered lock screen notifications employees can access their to-do lists with a single swipe off the lock screen – without repetitive push notifications. This is a welcome change to what was the case earlier – where employees could be reminded only once, via a push notification.
Proximititask is an app that acts as a missing link between reminders on your phone and beacons in the real world. Similar to how iOS’ Reminders app allows you to trigger reminders based on location, Proximititask app allows you to trigger them based on beacons.
Beacons can be used to book conference rooms for meetings. Finding a conference room that’s empty and is not already booked by someone can be quite a task. Beacons help solve this problem. Employees just need to install an app and based on information from beacons placed inside meeting rooms, they can check if a room is already occupied or when a particular meeting will be over.
Assemble.us is the first app that came up with the idea of using beacons for booking conference rooms. Some of the features it offers are: finding the right room for your meeting, making room occupants aware that there’s a meeting due in a few minutes and they need to wrap up quickly etc.
This is one of the most recent use cases in this domain and definitely a very interesting one. Employees who have a specific taxi service’s app installed on their phone can book a cab with the click of a button. The app can also be integrated with the calendar to let employees attending meetings outdoor to quickly plan their trip and book a cab within seconds.
The Uber Button is a beacon placed inside a button that connects to the Uber app on an employee’s phone. The button retrieves his/her profile and favorite product from Uber’s profile. The employee justs need to press the ‘Uber button’ and is made aware of the time it will take an Uber to reach that location. Integration with calendar allows the button to give specifics like: “your next meeting starts in 20 minutes, an Uber can pick up in 4 minutes and estimated travel time to your next meeting location is 11 minutes. You have 5 minutes to leave in order to make it to your next meeting.” That’s time management simplified!
Other Use Cases:
Beacons can also be used for:
1. Navigation: For large office spaces that are tricky to navigate, beacons can be extremely useful. Being able to guide an employee or a guest to a specific conference room can cut out a lot of wasted time.
2. Avoid theft of office property: Beacons can be used for keeping track of high cost office supplies/properties. Attach a beacon to the costliest office properties and rest assured they will not be stolen.
3. Identify high and low traffic areas in office: Gathering location data of all employees can help find the ‘high’ and ‘low’ traffic areas in office. This data can be shared with the lighting/controls department to help maintain a ‘green’ office.
4. Improve furniture and desk layouts: Based on the location data of employees, offices could make tweaks to desk layouts and office designs based on where people actually move around at work.
Thus, like most other beacon implementations in various verticals, the opportunities that beacons provide in workspaces are limitless. Beacons can thus breathe life into office spaces. Looking at what beacons can do for office spaces, these tiny devices truly have the potential to be an integral part of any company’s digital strategy in the near future.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!