Tips & Tricks

Virtual TimeClock Tips & Tricks - November 2011

We’ve certainly seen a communication explosion in the last several years. I remember when there were three primary methods to communicate: face to face, snail mail, and the telephone (from a land line of course!) To these traditional methods have been added a vast array of options to choose from including: mobile phones, texting, email, live chat, video conferencing, social media networks, and blog posting.

Communication is an important component for any business, whether it’s between employees, between employees and management, or between employees and customers. In this month’s Tips & Tricks newsletter, we’ll take a look at how Virtual TimeClock can be used as an effective tool to improve office communication by using messaging and the in & out board.

Messaging functions like a simple, self-contained email system. Employees can use it to notify managers of a missed punch time or request a day off. Managers can use it to communicate directly with employees or broadcast notices to whole groups. Based on years of interacting with customers, here are some common reasons for using Virtual TimeClock messaging.

Employee to Management
  • Vacation Requests - Request days off by using a subject like “Vacation Leave Request” and including the dates in the body of the message.
  • Missed Punches - Notify managers of missed punches or ask questions about timecard hours.
  • Request Supplies - Notify managers of low supplies. For example, “Opened the last carton of 20 lb paper, please order more.”

Management to Employee

  • Vacation Approval - Approve days off by replying to requests and adding “Approved” or “Rejected” to the subject. Based on your office workflow, managers can either add the vacation time themselves or copy your HR person on their reply so the leave entry can be added when processing payroll.
  • Company Announcements - Notify employees of accomplishments, scheduled meetings, or changes in office protocol. Verify employees have read important notices by requiring they reply back with the word “Acknowledged” appended to the subject line. This makes it easy to quickly scan the contents of your mailbox for compliance, especially if you sort messages by subject.
  • Start & Stop Work Notices - Alert employees to changes in their schedule or project priority. For example, “Please complete Dr. Smith’s print job before noon” or “The paper for Joe’s marketing campaign should arrive by 2PM.”

Employee to Employee

  • Request Help - Ask other employees for assistance with projects or activities. For example, “Sue, will you give me a hand with filing when you get back from lunch?” or “Mark, will you please open for me tomorrow?”
  • Employee Announcements - Let other employees know about special milestones. For example, “It’s Jeff’s birthday today. Drop by the break room at 3PM for cake!”

Here’s a quick Tip:
A small envelope icon with the number of new messages is displayed next to the employee’s name when new mail is waiting.

In & Out Board
One of the powerful features of Virtual TimeClock is its use as an in & out board. It's easy to tell what activity employees are working on, when they're at lunch or on break, and when they've left for the day. Your time clock becomes a non-verbal communication tool that saves time when routing incoming calls or scheduling office appointments. The program preferences give you a lot of flexibility for utilizing the in & out board. The full in & out board is the default time clock setting, but this can be easily modified.

  • Remove Columns - With a full in & out board, the name of each employee is displayed along and with their current status, date, and last punch time. You can easily remove any of these columns to simplify your time clock display. In fact, you can reduce your time clock display to just the name of each employee and an indicator of whether they’re in or out. This still makes it useful for routing calls, but employees can’t see when other employees are coming and going.
  • Remove Employees - With a full in & out board, all employee names are listed in the main time clock window. You can use display groups to create time clock stations for each department. This makes it easy to break up longer employee lists and gives managers access to just their employees rather than the entire staff.

Here’s a quick Tip:
Program preferences are found under the Virtual TimeClock menu on Mac and under the Edit menu on Windows PCs. New display groups are created under the Lists menu.

Until next month,

Jeff Morrow