Blog

Tips on implementing an office car park booking system.

Implementing a resource-booking solution for parking is a great way to maximise the use of an increasingly scarce (and costly) resource, but it takes exceptionally careful planning to navigate all the potential complications.

First off, you have the practical issues. For example: do you want your parking bays to be numbered and have those numbers correlate with your booking system to minimise human error, or would you prefer the simpler approach of just providing a fixed number of bays to be booked?

You also need to think about booking rules, such as:

  • Can bookings be made at any time, or will they be limited to the day before or a specific time window?
  • Will directors or senior staff get priority parking, and will they be allowed to block-book their bays?
  • How will you handle visitor parking? Will these bays be separate from the general pool, or booked on a priority basis?
  • Can staff book parking from their mobile devices?

What about when things don’t go according to plan? For example:

  • The person who booked Bay 9 parks in Bay 6 by accident, setting off an unintended domino-effect of “on-the-fly” adjustments.
  • An employee has a last-minute change of plans, or rushes off on a personal emergency, and forgets to release their bay back into the pool.
  • A senior staff member with priority parking forgets to release their bay when they go on holiday or enters into an informal arrangement with a favourite employee or friend to use their space while they’re out of office.
  • Somebody parks badly and takes up two bays.

And how do you plan to introduce the new system?

  • Will you provide training on the rules and technology?
  • Will there be a well-thought-out strategy to justify the change in behaviour?
  • Will there be counselling for when tempers start to rise…?

If you thought desks were the most contentious resources that booking solutions could be used for, you’d be shocked to find out just how strongly people feel about parking spots.

Jokes aside, you can’t ignore the emotive issues of car park booking. They can be even more challenging to unravel than the practicalities, particularly when subjective questions like fairness come up.

A great example that we came across recently involved a historic arrangement that gave female employees preferential parking after an unwelcome encounter occurred one evening after work. Male employees who had previously accepted the arrangement reacted quite negatively to its continuation under the new reservation system, voicing concerns over fair treatment for all genders in light of changing times.

While that specific situation may not be an issue for your business, broader challenges like declining public transport, more cars on the road, and overly-enthusiastic local traffic wardens affect us all.

Our best advice would be to brace yourself – switching from a no-rules parking scrum to a more formalised solution can be a bit of a bumpy ride…

Green Motivations

A lot of companies are shrinking their car park sizes not only to reduce overheads but also to encourage staff to use more eco-friendly methods of transport.

Essential client, Airbus, used a reduction in car park space as one of their key “green initiatives” in their multi-million-pound Aerospace Park development in Bristol. Many of their employees now ride-share, use public transport, or even cycle to work, making a real impact on their carbon footprint with the support of their employers.

The importance of a game plan

Balancing seniority, fairness and efficiency to keep everyone happy in a limited parking environment is always going to be a delicate process. Technology goes a long way towards simplifying the practicalities, but it can’t account for the human factor without some kind of game plan.

Creating this game plan really should be the first step for any business considering the implementation of a car-park resource-booking system. We’d suggest running through as many likely scenarios as possible and inviting employees to comment on any challenges that could affect their day-to-day experience. (Who better to shine a light on the unique eccentricities of your people and processes, after all?)

From there, you can start to formulate a basic strategy for your reservations which can be refined with the help of your service provider. Together, you can ensure your technology is implemented in the most efficient way possible, achieves your desired outcomes, and keeps conflict to a minimum.

COVID-19 Update

We suspect that the whole concept of having a dedicated desk or an allocated parking space will have to 'go out of the window' in the wake of COVID-19.

Even the desk or the parking bay normally used by directors - will need to become part of the available 'pool' when not in use:

  • All available desk space will be required to enable the requisite social distancing, and
  • All available parking bays will be required for staff coming into the office so they can avoid public transport.

Reverse hoteling (where staff can release their allocated parking bay to be booked by other staff when they are due to be out of the office) is one way in which this can be achieved.

Given that 'out of office' is likely to be the default position for a lot of your workforce, you may elect to make all available work and parking spaces bookable (subject to policies you might set) by those that need them.

The Essential Solution

At Essential, we’re very proud of the flexibility of our resource booking system and our ability to integrate almost any functionality our clients desire.

From basic reservation systems to time-based check-in/check-out procedures, and reverse hoteling, our team is ready to help you find the right solution for your needs.

 

Modern Authentication Support for Resource, Room & Desk Booking

Microsoft has announced that they will be changing the way that applications can authenticate with Office 365 Exchange Online. This change will be happening from October 2020 (although basic authentication support removal may be deferred owing to COVID-19) and may mean that your ResourceXpress and/or Resource Central system needs to be upgraded to V4.9J or above.

Background

Historically applications (and users) have authenticated with Exchange using a simple username and password. This has been the standard method built into most applications including ResourceXpress and Resource Central. Authentication has moved forward to incorporate more secure methods, including OAuth which is a modern authentication method. Microsoft has announced that they will disable basic authentication, which is the method of simple username and password, and allow only modern authentication.

The authors of the products we support have developed changes to utilise these new methods including OAuth.

When is this happening?

The change from Microsoft is not happening suddenly for all organisations, but the message from Microsoft is that they will be rolling out this change this year for all new tenants and any organisations that they detect are not using basic authentication. For this reason we are recommending that if needed your system is prepared in advance to prevent the risk of a sudden change stopping it from working.

Do you need to take action?

This change is only for connections to Exchange Online. If you are only using on-premises Exchange you will not be affected at this time, unless your company is pro-actively deciding to disable basic authentication for your Exchange environment.

ResourceXpress

The SaaS version of ResourceXpress and the on-premises version 4.9j onwards already support modern authentication so in these cases, you do not need to upgrade. You do, however, need to ensure that your system is configured correctly to use it. Essential can help you check this and advise on the necessary steps if needed, 

If you are running an on-premises version of ResourceXpress older than 4.9j you will need to upgrade and configure it.

Resource Central

The SaaS version of Resource Central will be upgraded in time to support the Microsoft change, all customer hosted implementations will need to be upgraded to a later version.  Whether on SaaS or customer hosted servers, system configuration will need to be updated in order to correctly use modern authentication.

What next?

Get in touch with Essential to find out more.

Technology to support social distancing in the new workplace

As Covid-19-related restrictions are slowly easing around the world, many businesses are preparing to return to the workplace. However, infection risks remain high and employees are naturally nervous about increasing their potential exposure.

So how do you create a workplace that not only supports social distancing and keeps people healthy, but also reassures them that it’s safe to come back to work?

For those employees willing and able to consider returning to the workplace, businesses have a legal and ethical duty to create the safest possible work environment.

There are several areas where technology can help in achieving this, including:

·       wearables that monitor social distancing,

·       implementing a workplace management strategy, and

·       effective communication of your strategy to your team.

Wearable Proximity Solutions

Available as wrist brands and on lanyards, these devices give a warning when the wearer is within 2 metres (or 6ft) of a co-worker (also wearing a device). The various options available, such as Estimote, include the ability for wearers to push a ‘panic button’ to update management on their status. The system, in turn, can be used to identify and notify any staff members that have been in close contact with someone that has been flagged as ‘at risk’.

This technology is especially useful where staff are highly mobile: working in a warehouse or on a building site, however when working in an office environment, other safeguards may be more appropriate.

Implementing a workplace management strategy

One thing we know for certain is that a traditional, static office environment is not going to cut it in the time of coronavirus. Agile workplaces are going to be a must in order to support the kind of strategic timing, seating and movement plans necessary to ensure safe social distancing.

Essential has been implementing agile workplace management strategies for a variety of businesses for many years. Here are a few ideas to consider when compiling your own social distancing ‘plan of action’.

Stagger start and break times

To be honest, in light of the current home-working situation we thought that managing the booking of meeting rooms and hot desks would be the last thing on the agenda.

Managing the most common staff bottlenecks is going to be important for social distancing. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stagger arrival, departure and break times. This minimises the number of employees sharing lifts, stairwells and exits, and prevents overcrowding in pause spaces and kitchens.

Depending on the size of your business, you may need to embrace shift work to achieve this.

Implement desk and meeting room booking systems

Preventing staff from sitting cheek by jowl or clustering in meeting rooms is a challenge of slightly larger proportions, particularly if you’re dealing with limited floorspace. Modern, configurable resource booking solutions can be very helpful in maximising the safe use of the facilities that you have, by:

With infection rates still sky high, it’s likely that people will be wary of using public transport for the foreseeable future. The result is going to be a big boost in road traffic and increased parking requirements at workplaces.

  • Enabling employees to pre-book a workspace securely from any device or browser
  • Ensuring desks are never booked side-by-side unless there is sufficient spacing
  • Limiting meeting room occupancy
  • Repurposing meeting rooms as extra workspaces if necessary
  • Flagging desks with specific attributes like standing desks, accessible desks, multiple screens, multiple docking stations etc.

Pro tip: A good desk booking solution doesn’t only help enforce social distancing. It also gives valuable peace of mind to employees by reassuring them that they have a safe, isolated workspace booked for the day.

Apply strategic seating policies

Above and beyond safe distancing, it’s also a good idea to apply a few strategic seating policies via your resource booking solution. For example:

  • Preventing critical employees from sitting in the same area to reduce the chance of them all needing to be quarantined at the same time.
  • Avoiding departmental clusters for the same reason.

Enforce sanitation windows

Sanitising workstations between users is vital to prevent the potential spread of infection. If you have cleaning staff on hand, consider using your resource booking tool to prevent successive bookings of the same desk, or enforce a short window between users to allow time for a deep clean.

If you don’t have a permanent cleaning team, a resource booking system can still help by reminding users to sanitise their workspace when they sign out of their desk for the day.

Automate parking assignments

With infection rates still sky high, it’s likely that people will be wary of using public transport for the foreseeable future. The result is going to be a big boost in road traffic and increased parking requirements at workplaces.

Just like with desks and meeting rooms, an automated resource-booking system can be invaluable in making the most of the parking space you have by:

  • Enabling “hot parking” – assigning bays dynamically on a daily/weekly pre-booking basis
  • Staggering parking bays assigned to employees starting or leaving work at the same time
  • Returning bays to the parking pool if employees:
    • have not signed into their desk for the day (off sick or working remotely)
    • leave work early
    • are on leave
  • Keeping security informed of who is where, and when (including visitors)

Track and trace potential infections

Chances are, no matter how good your health and safety protocol, someone, somewhere, is going to come to work sick. In this event, your resource booking tool can be invaluable in tracking and tracing any potential infection chains with a complete record of every desk, meeting room and parking space that employee has used in recent weeks. It’ll also be able to tell you who else used the same facilities or was seated near enough to potentially be at risk.

Manage visitors

Employees aren’t the only people you need to keep safe on your premises. Visitors movements also need to be managed for social distancing reasons. Consider using your resource booking tool to assign passes to restrict visitor numbers, pre-book meeting rooms and make appropriate parking available to ensure safe and easy entry and exit from your premises.

(Educating visitors on safety protocol before arrival is also important – more on that in a bit.)

Effective Communication of Your ‘Return to Work’ Strategy

The very best workplace management plan is completely useless without the buy-in of your entire team. That makes effective communication another vital component of health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how to do it well. 

Very few employees are likely to return to the office without knowing exactly how they’re being protected, first.

Engage with employees on measures to make them feel safe

Consulting with your employees before finalising any workplace management plan is a great way to make them feel heard, and bring to light any specific concerns they may have that you hadn’t thought about.

Tools like native Microsoft Forms are great for polling staff on their ideas and expectations for a safer workplace, and can also be used to gauge important metrics like:

  • How many people need/want to remain working remotely
  • How many people plan to return to the office
  • How many people require parking on their return

Communicate and educate employees on safety protocol

Once you’ve incorporated any employee feedback into your final workplace management plan, you need to communicate that plan to your workforce. Very few employees are likely to return to the office without knowing exactly how they’re being protected, first.

Here, the Microsoft-approved learning management system (LMS365) can be invaluable by:

  • Informing employees of all health and safety measures in place – check out the latest guidance from the Health & Safety Executive.
  • Training them on any new tools and procedures (e.g. resource booking) or personal responsibilities that they will have (e.g. hygiene practices and use of PPE)
  • Tracking their participation in the training and capturing their acknowledgment of understanding for peace of mind and/or liability purposes

Prepare visitors prior to arrival

Visitors will also need to understand and abide by your health and safety rules while on your premises. For most businesses, Microsoft Forms is more than enough to:

  • Convey visitor procedures
  • Securely capture any pertinent personal details (subject to your pre-existing governance protocol)
  • Record consent to limit liability

Pro tip: Industries with more complex visitor protocol may prefer using LMS365 for its comprehensive training capabilities.

Conclusion

With the right tools and planning, we can protect our most valuable assets (our people), and minimise the anxiety of returning employees.

Returning to the workplace is going to be a challenging adjustment for many.  With the right tools and planning, however, we can ease that adjustment significantly, protect our most valuable assets (our people), and minimise the anxiety of returning employees.

Perhaps even more importantly, we can begin the transformation to a new and better ‘normal’ that embraces the flexibility of the workplace of the future.

For more information on leveraging resource booking and learning management tools to support social distancing and workplace agility, get in touch.

Optimising Use of Limited Video Conferencing Licences

To be honest, in light of the current home-working situation we thought that managing the booking of meeting rooms and hot desks would be the last thing on the agenda.

It turns out that some customers are now using Resource Central to optimise their usage of video conferencing services.

If you weren’t already using Microsoft Teams before COVID-19 took hold, and are now relying on services like WebEx, GoToMeeting and Zoom, you may well have purchased a ‘limited host’ licence subscription. That is, where you pay so much per 'meeting host' per month.

With everyone now scrambling to use this resource to communicate with co-workers and clients, it’s easy to run out of host licences quickly, but buying a host licence for everyone in your organisation might not be viable.

Our customer Tindall Riley, the management company behind 5 insurance businesses, is now using Resource Central to optimise its ‘pool’ of available Zoom host licences by making them a bookable resource. This means their workforce can pre-book a Zoom host licence as and when they need it.

If you’d like to find out more on how to use this service in Resource Central, get in touch.

Booking Meetings & Meeting Rooms with Microsoft Teams

Optimising real-estate utilisation is a great way for enterprises to reduce costs - especially as the growing trend towards flexible and remote working has lead to increasingly under-used office space.

We're also now facing a situation where remote working (and therefore reduced office space) may become more a a norm, against a 'perfect storm' of COVID-19, environmental issues, flexible working trends and extreme weather events.

To help streamline the workspace booking process, Microsoft continues to encourage the use of resource mailboxes in Office 365, and is providing new features to assist with booking meeting rooms, Teams Rooms and individual workspaces.

For example, it is now possible to book and schedule meetings using the Teams calendar (as well as via Outlook calendar).

There are still some 'gotchas' when booking meetings and meeting rooms using Teams, so in this article we have provided some tips and best practices to help navigate them.

 Teams features to help users book resources

Teams contains a calendar app that is a view of the logged-on users’ calendar.

Integration with Teams means that a meeting can be booked, with a room, attendees and Teams credentials all in one process.

Within the calendar app it is possible to create and edit meetings that contain room bookings.  Selecting the meeting time span required automatically opens a new meeting window.

Adding details to your Teams meeting

Here it is possible to find a free room easily using the location field.

This can be achieved using room lists, or if Microsoft Teams Rooms are being used (see also lower in this article), proximity detection can suggest a nearby room.

Check out this article for more information on proximity detection: https://www.microsoft.com/itshowcase/blog/click-join-internal-meetings-get-a-boost-with-microsoft-teams/

Attendees can be added and the meeting scheduled, which then acts in the same way as creating a room booking in Outlook.

Teams meeting details are automatically added to all meetings booked in the Teams calendar app.

There is also bi-directional synchronisation with the user’s Outlook calendar.  For instance, you can edit items scheduled in the Outlook calendar and have those changes appear in Outlook.

https://office365itpros.com/2019/08/26/teams-new-calendar-app/

Beware some limitations, however:

For example:

  • the Teams calendar has no concept of multiple time zones
  • you can't mark events as private, and
  • you can't drag and drop meetings between time slots.

For this reason users should not expect to organise their diaries using Teams in the same way they can Outlook.

Watch out for Booking Meetings in Channels

A concept that is unique to booking meetings in Teams is the ability to select a channel in which to meet.

Channels are sub-sections of teams, a bit like a topic within a team.

A concept that is unique to booking meetings in Teams is the ability to select a channel in which to meet.

It is important to note that when a channel is selected, the meeting booking is made by the group email address of the channel, rather than the logged-on user.

Whilst the organiser in the Teams calendar app is displayed as the user who made the booking, the corresponding booking in the Outlook calendar shows the organiser as the channel.

Also a Teams channel invitation does not automatically send invites to everyone in the channel.

If you want Team members to receive a meeting invitation you should:

Either way, it would seem that there is currently a bug if you want to book a physical meeting room from a Teams channel.  Check out this thread.

Microsoft Teams Rooms

Utilising a combination of resource mailboxes, the correct Office 365 licence and compatible hardware it is possible to create a Microsoft Teams Room which turns a regular meeting room into a fully video-enabled collaboration space.

No licencing is required for a regular resource mailbox, however, in order to enable a room as a Teams room, a licence is required.

It is possible to apply certain enterprise licences to enable a Teams room, however Microsoft have a licence type specifically for Teams rooms.  The licence includes (amongst other things):

  • Skype for Business
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Phone System
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Microsoft Intune

Once enabled and licenced, the room mailbox is ready to use alongside the appropriately configured hardware.

Working with & booking Teams Rooms

Why Office 365 is the best way to cope with a shrinking modern office

By using workspace more intensively and wisely we can reduce our use of buildings and thus our impact on the environment...

Sir Gus O’Donnell, former cabinet secretary and head of the Home Civil Service

Making the necessary changes that enable workforces to adapt to a shrinking office space – especially where that means adopting ‘non-territorial working’ - requires a multi-discipline strategy involving people, design and technology.

For example:

  • The personal benefits of working from home or having a shorter commute should be made clear as part of a hot-desking initiative – it has to be a two-way contract.
  • Office interiors should be designed to be more vibrant and flexible, with a variety of difference workspaces, storage options and fun areas for socialising – there should be compelling reasons to come into the office for team building.
  • Technology to help remove the stress of booking and finding free workspaces should be adopted.  The needs of other stakeholders such as the facilities management team also need to be addressed by whatever you choose.

If you use Office 365, the great news is that you already have the ideal platform on which to build and streamline resource booking and management.

The room booking benefits that Office 365 offers include:

  1. A familiar Outlook & (increasingly familiar) Teams UI –These are the default collaboration and scheduling applications that are already embedded in users’ working practices.

2. Sophisticated calendaring – With Office 365 you have:

    • Support for shared calendars across co-workers
    • The ability to delegate calendar management to team members
    • Support for shared calendars across Outlook & Teams

4. Robust, centralised security –Your existing platform uses Windows auth and AD access rights/privileges to govern access and enable SSO.  This can be used to govern who can book what resource.

3. Advanced scheduling – Powerful tools like the Resource Booking and Scheduling Assistants and Cortana make it easy to find the right time for a group of people and coordinate schedules across multiple time zones.

5. Business continuity - Using regular Outlook calendar and other Microsoft-standard infrastructure means failover and protection against obsolescence is built-in.

6. A reasonably* robust room and resource booking model –You’re probably already using Microsoft’s native resource mailbox capability for booking rooms...

It therefore makes 100% sense that any solution you choose to streamline resource booking and management uses this functionality and doesn’t try to replicate it with a separately managed, secured and disjointed platform.

Available on-premises or in Microsoft Azure, our resource essentials solutions have been developed from the ground up to run in your Microsoft environment and leverage your existing investment in terms of user skills and infrastructure.

This means that issues like user learning curve, security, calendar privacy, delegate access, cross-time zone timings, integration with Microsoft conferencing, duplicate meetings, etc, are all non-issues.

Building directly onto your Office 365 platform we deliver:

  • Smart room and desk booking screens and devices for outside meeting rooms, receptions, lobbies, etc
  • Support for RFID badges and tags for on-screen authentication
  • The ability to book virtually any additional resources such as catering, special requests such as vegan & allergens, equipment, seating layouts
  • Facilities management dashboards for managing catering requests, rearranging meetings
  • Ability to strip meeting subjects out to avoid sensitive information being displayed on booking screens.
  • Management reporting including utilisation reports
  • *Fixing the shortcomings of native resource mailboxes, such as smarter handling of recurring meeting requests, a dashboard for FM/admin staff to manage and view all bookings, visitors, and much, much more.

Get a demo today>

Webinar: What to do about journaling when you’re in Office 365

Watch our webinar-on-demand and discover what are your options about email journaling in Office 365.

In addition, learn how up and coming solutions like HubStor can help you with journaling in Office 365 and reduce your operational costs.

For a demo of HubStor and to discover how it can help you reduce your journaling costs, get in touch.

How to improve compliance training with a Learning Management System

With the GDPR and other industry-specific regulations in full force, it’s not a good idea to take it on faith that your employees are up to date on their compliance responsibilities. For a lot of organisations, it’s mandatory for employees to be regularly retrained on organisational codes of conduct and industry regulations. That can be a time-intensive and costly exercise using traditional training methods, and a monotonous chore for employees.

Thankfully, the increasing availability and adoption of Learning Management Systems (LMS) for corporate training, has made these issues far easier to overcome. We’re particular fans of Microsoft’s LMS365 for compliance training, but let’s take a look at some general LMS benefits before we dive into why.

What is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system (LMS) is essentially a software application or platform that enables the creation, administration, delivery and tracking of eLearning or online training programs. Depending on which LMS you’re using, these programs can have varying degrees of integration into your existing environment. They can be completely standalone experiences or seamless components of daily workflows.

Major benefits for corporate training

There are several benefits of LMSs over more traditional learning environments. One of the most obvious is that they are unaffected by time zones or geography and can accommodate a variety of learning styles and schedules.

Even more important for corporate applications, however, is the ability to deliver enterprise-wide training in an easy-to-manage, easy-to-track, and centrally managed way.

Targeted and scheduled training modules with completion reminders and comprehension tracking make it simple to monitor user progress and address any shortfalls quickly. Course content delivery that leverages gamification also encourages learner participation, and tight integration into existing work environments (available on platforms like LMS365) minimises “barriers to entry”.

It’s also very useful to be able to deliver training programmatically, making it possible to streamline and automate processes like onboarding new staff.

What makes LMSs a great fit for compliance training, specifically?

When your company’s reputation and well-being is on the line, you don’t want to take chances on employees forgetting or neglecting their compliance training. However, ensuring everyone (organisation-wide) is up to date on their responsibilities isn’t easy – even if it is essential to prevent potentially expensive litigation.

Using an LMS helps overcome these challenges in a variety of ways:

Quick, easy course creation and roll-out

Most LMSs have intuitive course creation interfaces that make it easy to create – and adapt – courses as your corporate needs change. This is very useful in the compliance space, which is constantly evolving.

For example, Microsoft recently extended sensitivity labelling functionality to Office applications on Windows. Labelling can be a potent tool in an organisation’s compliance toolbox, but requires a fair amount of understanding and labelling expertise from users. Since labelling policies vary dramatically from business to business, standardised training is of little use. Using an LMS would make it relatively easy to build a custom course around your corporate labelling policies and help you make the most of this powerful, built-in functionality.

Flexible and Fun Course Content Delivery

Let’s face it, reading corporate policies and legalese isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. LMSs can help you deliver learning content through a variety of media and interactive learning activities. Implemented well, these can entice and incentivise employee engagement, making the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Most LMSs also offer mobile device compatible training for participation on-the-go. The flexibility to engage whenever and wherever they learn best can have very positive effects on employee information retention and long-term outcomes.

Pro tip: Remote employees and mobile device use can increase a company’s risk of data breaches – make sure you secure these channels and provide adequate training on out-of-office safety protocol.

Automated Reminders and Notifications

With the help of an LMS, you can ensure compliance training is completed on time, every time, with convenient, customisable and trackable automated reminders and notifications.

Even better, some LMSs (like LMS365) let you tie training modules to activities that form part of a normal workday. For example, context-sensitive mini-modules or procedural reminders can be triggered when a user navigates to a specific SharePoint page. This is a great way to relate training to real-world applications and develop the right habits to ensure ongoing compliance.

Comprehensive Assessments and Reporting

LMS assessment and reporting capabilities tend to be extensive, including live tracking of engagement and completion, as well as automatic grading of performance.

Depending on your chosen system, your LMS may also be able to leverage advanced analytics to highlight specific trends and statistics from course modules. These can be integrated into business intelligence platforms to draw some very useful insights, including:

  • Learner engagement, timelines and completion levels
  • Performance on an individual and/or group level
  • Potential knowledge gaps that need further reinforcement or clarification
  • Areas in which course material could be adapted to better serve its purpose

Having access to this kind of comprehension-level reporting is particularly valuable in the compliance space. A lack of understanding can seriously hinder the adoption of new behaviours – a frequent requirement as legislation continues to evolve.

Auditable reports also help organisations prove due diligence in their compliance training remit, further minimising the risk of falling foul of legislation.

Easy Certification Management

For industries or organisations with mandatory certification requirements, keeping track of who has successfully completed what can be an ongoing headache. With the help of a good LMS, however, you can automate most of the certification management and retraining processes, including:

  • Tracking course completion and understanding
  • Enforcing regular retesting
  • Automatically updating procedural content to reflect latest corporate protocol

Manage compliance and all other training activities effectively with LMS365

In which compliance areas can LMSs be of help?

LMSs are extraordinary tools for almost any type of education or training. When it comes to compliance, their application is particularly useful for organisations in financial services, law, healthcare etc. which have very specific compliance regulations. However, an LMS can be useful to virtually any organisation for training in the following areas.

The GDPR and other data protection legislation

Using an LMS to train employees on their role in safeguarding data makes it far easier to accommodate the evolving nature of this space. Periodic training updates can be actioned for a relatively low financial and time investment, and regular reminders can be triggered to reinforce good habits (such as securing company mobile phones and laptops).

LMSs also make it possible to track employee training and measure understanding to make sure users (both remote and in-office) are genuinely equipped to handle all relevant data-related situations. This reduces the risk of employee data breaches, for which employers may be held vicariously responsible (as in the case of UK supermarket company Morrisons). In these cases, an LMS’s comprehensive training records could also be of use in proving due diligence to strengthen an employer’s legal defence.

Pro tip: Your LMS also needs to be GDPR compliant, so make sure you’re using a reputable platform that conforms to international data privacy standards.

Health and safety

Mandatory health and safety training often comes at a high cost, and isn’t always as effective at minimising incidents as organisations may like. LMSs can offer a more effective way of driving the necessary knowledge home through engaging and flexible learning environments that encourage and incentivise learner participation.

They’re also able to track engagement and assess understanding to give employees the strongest possible foundation on which to build long-term behavioural change.

Information governance

The need to correctly label data items according to their sensitivity and data retention requirements is something that end users are becoming increasingly involved in.  Its processes tend to be a lot more nuanced (and frequently affected by technology advancements and updates) than other areas. This makes the flexibility of an LMS extremely valuable, particularly when using a platform that ties into your existing infrastructure and can trigger updates and policy reminders based on user activity.

Codes of conduct

Data breaches aren’t the only areas employees can be held vicariously liable for their employees’ conduct. Discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace can all have serious repercussions for employers as well. By providing training on appropriate workplace behaviour, anti-discrimination and equal opportunities policies, employers can demonstrate an active commitment to a non-toxic work environment and reduce their likelihood of liability.

An LMS can not only make this training easier to implement, update and monitor organisation-wide, it can also deliver content in a compelling manner that supports genuine understanding and drives real change.

Why introduce an LMS which uses existing technology to manage training

One of the biggest reasons we love LMS365 (apart from its great functionality) is because it integrates so seamlessly with the Office 365 environment.

Users don’t need to sign into a different learning platform to access their training or reminders. Instead, access management is aligned with their active directory entry. That means learning plans, courses, personal progress reports, certificates and more are all automatically accessible through completely familiar Office 365 channels.

That familiarity can make a big difference to user engagement and adoption.

Pro tip: LMS365 can also tap into Office 365’s productivity and social apps to add an element of friendly competition – or teamwork – to the training environment.

Choosing an LMS that integrates with your environment is about more than just learners’ user experience, however. It also makes the creation and administration of courses far easier. With LMS365 you can build, deploy, track and schedule everything relating to your training programme using Office, Outlook and SharePoint. No need for third-party web services or ongoing maintenance fees, and no integration costs.

Have you used (or considered) an LMS for compliance training? Leave a comment below and let us know the pros and cons that affected your experience or decision.

Manage compliance and all other training activities effectively with LMS365

Self-Service RFID Card Enrolment

When our customer wanted to give staff a quick and easy way to authenticate on-screen meeting room bookings and check-ins for its Microsoft Exchange-integrated room and desk booking system, the obvious answer was to use RFID Cards.

Adding RFID card reading capability to the chosen room screen technology was the easy part of the solution.

The process of linking the RFID card details with the corresponding users' Active Directory profile would be the bigger challenge.

Given that staff ID cards were already in circulation and being used in conjunction with a totally separate door entry system (that was not already integrated with AD), the option of gathering users’ ID cards for registration via a central service would be difficult to orchestrate.  It would also be a very resource-intensive process.

The Solution:

By integrating the client’s meeting room touch screen booking system with our self-service AD update utility, it was possible to enrol users’ ID cards via strategically placed touch screens in reception and outside meeting rooms, either:

  • At their convenience, as and when the staff member was passing the screen, or
  • The first time they wanted to make an on-screen booking or check-in to an existing booking.
Self service ID scan page 1
Self service ID scan page 2

Using on-screen instructions (see example screens above) staff members could be guided through the process of registering their Card and then entering their Windows credentials.

We could then securely store the card credentials alongside the relevant AD record for the card holder.

Following enrolment, users were able to book rooms, desks and other resources with the swipe of a card.

By capturing the details of exactly who was booking resources, and importantly, who was checking in (or failing to check-in) to a booked resource, meant the customer had an accurate insight as to exactly how their office space was being used, and where savings could be made.

This is just one use-case.  If you don't want to open up AD for updates - no problem.  We also support virtually any RFID technology, including Indala, Hitag, CASI-RUSCO, MIFARE®, NFC, LEGIC & HID.

Get in touch to discover how we can help you with RFID authentication.

How to Take the Heat out of the Transition to Hot-desking

For those of us who’ve spent half our lives behind a dedicated desk, or in a private office, having a workplace with no seating assignments (and fewer workstations than employees) probably sounds like a recipe for chaos. Where on earth would we store our potted plants and emergency chocolate in this adult version of musical chairs? Would we have to participate in some sort of land-grab every morning just to secure a spot for the day?

While it’s certainly a break from tradition (and not everyone’s cup of tea), hot-desking is becoming an increasingly popular modern workplace solution. Far from the outlandish arrangement it may seem, the flexibility it offers can make for a very civilised and productive work environment – not to mention saving businesses as much as 30% on their overheads!

Getting hot-desking right isn’t always smooth sailing, though – and not just because of logistical complexities. Our Essential meeting room and desk booking system makes the organisational side of hot-desking relatively easy (and extends to meeting-room booking, visitor check-ins and “hot-parking” solutions, too). In our experience, the real challenge comes not from technology, but from the human side of the equation: the emotive and practical issues that come into play.

Making change easier

Encouraging employees to adopt a hot-desk environment isn’t always the easiest thing to do. As it turns out, giving a person a dedicated desk and then taking it away doesn’t have a great effect on morale.  

Us humans are creatures of habit and breaking out of our routines and comfort zones is a tough sell. Oddly enough, in the case of hot-desking, we’ve found the bigger the change, the more easily it’s accepted. 

The most successful hot-desk transitions we’ve seen have been part of a bigger change…..

The most successful hot-desk transitions we’ve seen have all been done as part of a bigger change: a relocation, a renovation, a consolidation – even a migration to Office 365.

It seems that by introducing broader changes, and communicating the benefits clearly, people feel less like they’re losing what was “theirs” and tend to be more open to new concepts. These include flexible working opportunities, use of collaboration technology to minimise travel for meetings, the option to work at a nearer office location, and so on.

Forming new habits

Even if employees are 100% on board with desk-sharing, there are still a few new habits they’re going to need to form for the system to work. Just remembering to book a desk and release it back into the pool when they’re done for the day can take a bit of getting-used-to. 

In this, structured change management frameworks like the Prosci ADKAR Model can be extremely useful. ADKAR focusses on getting employees to understand and support the reasons behind the change, thereby encouraging enthusiastic, sustained participation rather than reluctant adoption of new behaviours. This can make all the difference in a hot-desking environment, which takes time and repetition to become second nature. 

The right technology can make forming new habits dramatically easier for everyone involved… 

The right technology for driving change and forming new habits can make life dramatically easier for everyone involved – particularly if it integrates with tools and processes that are already part of the normal workflow (like Outlook and Teams). 

Planning for success

Implementing the right rules for your desk-booking system, in the right way, is just as important as choosing the right system to begin with.  

These are a few of the things we’d suggest thinking about and discussing with your solution provider in advance. (Fair warning: this is by no means an exhaustive list – every office has different challenges and unique idiosyncrasies to consider.) 

  • Will employees be allowed to book desks in advance, or only within specific time windows e.g. 24 hours ahead? 
  • Will certain departments or senior staff require priority booking, or first right of refusal, before releasing specific desks into the pool? 
  • What happens if an employee leaves early or doesn’t arrive for work? (Consider check-in and check-out procedures or automated free/busy indicators on desks.) 
  • Will your desks be booked by location, or available on a first-come, first-served basis to the employees who have reserved a slot for the day? 
  • How will you find specific employees in-office if they don’t always sit in the same spot? (Do you need a live mapping of seating arrangements?) 
  • How will you arrange fixed infrastructure like desk phones or computer hardware? (Well-designed login procedures make it easier to move between workstations without losing functionality.) 

The Essential Solution

Check out our adoption and change management and workplace booking solutions designed specifically for Office 365 enterprises.

You still need a good game plan to define the processes and outcomes you require, but they are a great foundation for enabling change in a way that leverages your investment in end user skills and IT infrastructure.

Get in touch to find out more or arrange a demo