Category: WolMobile

3 minutes read time

What do remote workers mean for your tax obligations?

Disclaimer: MRI Software LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction

Offices are a far cry from Mad Men–style cubicles and dark rooms stacked with important papers. The pandemic pivot to digital saw meetings taking place anywhere from Zoom (a classic choice) to within the game Red Dead Redemption 2 (sitting around a campfire—wholesome).

With more and more people choosing to work from home, it is important for organizations to seek up-to-date tax advice. However, each state has different tax laws for remote workers.  Some organizations have been caught off-guard by income or sales taxes in other states where employees have been working remotely. And some workers haven’t filed a tax return where they should have, simply because they didn’t know they had to.

In a survey of more than 1,000 workers across the country, WhosOnLocation and Brivo found that 78% of respondents would prefer to work from home at least some of the time, rather than returning full-time to the workplace. Yes, remote work has had enormous benefits to all parties. Most respondents (75%) felt equally or more productive working at home, and many felt safer without having to commute to their workplace (due to pandemic concerns). But with all the innovation and flexibility a hybrid workforce can bring, there are some details you’ll need to iron out.

Some things for employers to consider

While not an exhaustive list, these are some things to look out for. Seek advice if you are unsure of your obligations.

  • Are you responsible for withholding any employment taxes for employee income earned remotely? If so, are the tax rates for remote work and on-site work different?
  • Does the “convenience rule” apply in your state?
  • Have you properly classified employees and independent contractors?
    Some states have strict rules about this, make sure you check your state’s gig worker classification regulations and laws.
  • Are you reporting correctly on which days are worked on-site and which are worked remotely?

Location reporting

With new tax complications surfacing with the rise in remote workers, comprehensive location reporting can make it much easier to fulfill your obligations.

WhosOnLocation: Reports at your fingertips

While keeping workers safe is always our priority, there are so many additional benefits to employers, contractors and employees. Having easy-to-prepare location reports for tax purposes is one of them.

WhosOnLocation lets workers indicate when they are working remotely upon sign-in, allowing you to pull simple reports to use at tax time.

Individual reports:

Pull reports for a single employee or contractor to show remote and on-site work within a specific timeframe.

Aggregate reports:

Report on when employees or contractors worked on-site or remotely. Use report filters to customize your results.

Above: Report showing days and hours worked remotely by employees in the selected time period (year-to-date).
Above: Report showing days and hours worked on-site by employees in the selected time period (year-to-date).

Live reports:

Sometimes, you might need to check how many employees or contractors are working on-site or remotely at any given moment. You can use WhosOnLocation to pull reports from live geolocation data (if enabled) or manual sign-in tracking.

Want to learn more?

For more information on how Location Reporting can help at tax time, sign-up to watch our latest webinar. 

4 minutes read time

Safety trends in the construction industry

In November of last year, our sales executive James attended Facilities Integrate in Auckland, New Zealand. He had some interesting conversations with facilities managers – see this blog here – but he also caught up with those attending Build NZ to hear about construction safety trends. 

Construction safety trends

James, can you tell us a little more about the event? 

Sure. Our stand was at Facilities Integrate, but we neighboured the Build NZ show. Build NZ is the leading trade event for the build, construction and design industries. Both Build NZ and Facilities Integrate provide a great opportunity to network with peers in the same industry, try out the latest equipment and technologies and source the best suppliers. 

It was great to attend a non-virtual event and catch up with new and prospective customers in person! Especially after such a turbulent year. 

Did you notice any construction safety trends? 

There were a number of construction safety trends. First off, similar to the facilities managers I spoke to, there seems to be a real need for a flexible sign-in solution. I also had plenty of conversations around contractor management, and in particular, using software to strengthen safety processes. 

Could you tell us a little more about your conversations on a flexible sign-in solution? 

In the construction industry, one organization is likely to have a number of sites, all with different needs and requirements. Some sites might have great wifi, while others only have cell signal. Some could be outdoors and remote, while others are in high traffic areas. From my conversations at the event, customers need multiple ways to sign in across these locations. Sometimes, they even need multiple processes at one site. 

How can WhosOnLocation help with that? 

WhosOnLocation has 12 different ways to sign in – so there’s an option for every organization and every employee/contractor. From a smartphone app to a PC.

Which sign in methods are the most popular for construction sites? 

Our WolMobile app was built with construction sites in mind and is great for outdoor sites. Both employees and contractors can download this app to easily sign in and out, and view important site safety information. Using geofencing technology, you can even set the app to automatically sign everyone in and out. So there’s no longer a need to track down those who forgot to sign out.

Alternatively, a kiosk that includes a scanner is also a popular choice. Our customers often issue employees and contractors with access cards that can be scanned at the kiosk for quick and easy sign in. With WhosOnlocation, anything with a barcode can be used for this – loyalty cards, driving licenses, etc, for quick and easy implementation. 

You also mentioned software for safety came up a lot, can WolMobile help with that? 

Absolutely. For remote or hazardous work, employees and contractors can enable geolocation services within the app. This helps responders to locate them in an emergency. 

To make this feature even more powerful, we also offer an SOS alert function. This sends an instant alert to a designated safety contact within the organization. The alert includes contact details and the whereabouts of the individual who raised the alarm. 

Customers can also broadcast safety updates via instant messages. They can even ask employees and contractors to acknowledge safety notices before they sign into a location. 

You mentioned that contractor management was one of the key construction safety trends. Are there any other features besides WolMobile that can help with this? 

One of the construction security trends is around keeping contractors safe. The WhosOnLocation application boasts a whole range of contractor features. The most notable is our service provider portal. This is a game-changer for many customers. It allows contractor organizations to upload and maintain their own documentation, cutting down on serious admin time. 

Insurances, qualifications and inductions can all be uploaded to the portal. Customers can then enable alerts to remind them (and the contractor in question) if any of their documentation is expiring or up for renewal. 

To make these features even more powerful, customers can also configure their account to deny site access to anyone with expired or incomplete documentation. An alert is then sent to the relevant person to notify that a contractor has attempted to enter a site without the correct insurances/qualifications/inductions. 

New to WhosOnLocation? 

All features mentioned are available in a single subscription cost. Start your free trial today – no credit card required. 

5 minutes read time

Is my employer spying on me?

As many of us work from home under some form of COVID-19 restrictions, you may have wondered “Is my employer spying on me?”. 

Huge numbers of employees have been asked to download apps like Zoom and WolMobile. So it begs the question – can employers use this software to spy on us? 

How do I know if my employer is spying on me?

You may have heard rumours of employers using software to keep track of productivity and the use of company equipment. Let’s take a look at some of the common beliefs around employee privacy to see if they’re true. 

Employers have the right to carry out surveillance. True, sort of…

It’s true that some degree of employee surveillance is permitted – but this is usually only in the ways you would expect.

Generally speaking, an employer can monitor your activity at work so long as they have a valid business reason. This reason has to outweigh the employee’s right to privacy. 

For example, an employer wouldn’t be able to place a camera in a locker room, but they could justifiably record a phone conversation between yourself and a customer.

My employer can read my emails. True.  

Yes, an employer can access your business email and monitor the communication you send. However, this doesn’t mean your boss is scanning your emails every week. Or ever, for that matter. 

As you might expect, an employer is likely to access your emails only when they have a valid reason to. For example, when looking for evidence in support of a complaint such as workplace harassment or other gross misconduct. 

After all, business email is for business communications, so keep your private conversations to your personal accounts. 

My employer can track my location at all times with WolMobile. Not true. 

Customers often ask us if their employer can track their location at all times when using WolMobile to stay safe at work. In short, the answer is no. 

WolMobile uses location services for two key features: 

  1. Auto sign in/out – to automatically sign you in when you approach your workplace, and sign you out again as you leave. 
  2. When using the follow me feature – This feature is designed to protect those working remotely and at risk if your work requires it. Imagine a utilities contractor travelling alone between remote wind farms to perform repair work. Their location might be tracked for safety reasons, to ensure help can be provided quickly and easily in the case of an emergency. 

Although the WolMobile app has local access to your device’s location at all times, that information stays on your device. The WolMobile app only sends this information to your employer’s WhosOnLocation account when follow me is enabled (which requires you to be signed in for work), or when you enter or leave a geofence and sign in/out. 

Once you leave for the day, your location isn’t reported on in WhosOnLocation, so your employer has no way to access this information. 

Zoom has lots of privacy and security problems. Not necessarily true.

As organizations closed their offices, downloads of the Zoom app skyrocketed as we kept our team meetings going virtually. Although not considered a method of employer spying, Zoom did come in for some bad press earlier this year, leading many of us to question whether it was putting our privacy at risk. On closer inspection, many of the claims were exaggerated and designed to grab headlines: 

Zoom conversations can be found online. 

This isn’t a zoom issue, but rather a simple fact that a meeting host could record a conversation and make it publicly accessible online. The same could be said of any application.

Hackers will Zoombomb your meeting. 

Zoom has password and security settings available to prevent this from happening. Just don’t turn them off. 

Zoom’s end-to-end encryption doesn’t work.

This headline is more about a discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how Zoom was using it. Although certainly misleading, this isn’t a bug. It’s worth noting end-to-end encryption isn’t widely available in the video conferencing market yet. 

So, is my employer spying on me?

Your employer might be carrying out a degree of surveillance, but only for justifiable business reasons. If your employer has reason to investigate your business communications, they are quite within their rights to do so. So remember to keep your personal or private communication to your personal devices and accounts. 

In the case of your employer spying on your whereabouts using WolMobile, rest assured this isn’t the case. If you’re not at work, your employer can’t access your location information. Remember when you are at work, your employer can only track your location around a site if you’re using the follow me feature for your own safety.

6 minutes read time

Working from home: How to make it work for you

The one question on everyone’s mind is can I be as productive working from home as I am working from the office? A recent poll found that 51% of New Zealanders prefer working from home compared to working in an office and in another survey 65% of Americans said they were more productive working from home. It is very dependent on the environment that you are working in, for example, if you add in the factor of children at home you would probably prefer the usual office situation. However, now that we are forced to work from home, how can we make sure that we stay productive? Here are some useful ideas to help you adjust to this new style of working.

1. Keep a similar routine 

Get up early, eat your breakfast, get dressed and get to work. It’s important that we stick to a routine, to keep consistency in our lives. If we continue with familiar routines, it will be easier to work the full 8 hour day and adjust back to normal life when COVID-19 is over.  

2. Team communication

Not only can it get lonely working by yourself but you can also lose motivation. This is why you should make sure that you keep up communication between your colleagues and teams. First of all, you need to ensure that when you are working, your ‘status’ in the workforce communications tool (i.e., Slack) is set to ‘working, available or online,’ so the team knows that you can be reached. You should also regularly check your organization’s primary communication tools for updates and announcements. This will ensure you: 

  1. Stay motivated to get your work done.
  2. Know what everyone is working on.
  3. Make sure you are all working towards the same goal. 

At WhosOnLocation, we have added two 15 minute catch up meetings on top of our usual Monday team meeting. This enables us to raise any problems and ensures we have all the information we need to carry on with our work. 

3. Online meetings

To minimize the risk of meeting delays, you should remind your employees of good online meeting practices. As we all know, technology can sometimes test our patience, so it’s good to sign in a couple of minutes early to make sure everything is in working order. We should also do our best to make sure the environment where we’re taking calls with clients or team members is without distraction and is quiet.

4. Health and wellness

To get the most out of the day, we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves by staying fit and healthy. You can reduce the risks from display screen work by following some of these simple ideas:

  • Microbreaks 

A microbreak is a frequent break that lasts anywhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Evidence suggests microbreaks reduce muscle fatigue by as much as 20-50 percent in an eight-hour day. Regular breaks are better than longer breaks, so a 5 – 10-minute break after 50 – 60 minutes is better than a 20-minute break every 3 hours.

  • Proper desk chair posture

Poor posture (e.g., slumped shoulders, protruding neck, and curved spine) is the culprit of physical pain that many office workers experience. The way you are sitting can have a transformative impact on your day. It’s hard to imagine that we might be doing damage to our body by simply doing nothing. Nonetheless, our posture has a huge impact on our health, success, and overall happiness. It’s crucial to be mindful of the importance of good posture throughout the workday. Here’s how to achieve good posture: 

  • Adjust the chair height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line (or slightly lower) with your hips
  • Sit up straight and keep your hips far back in the chair.
  • The back of the chair should be somewhat reclined at a 100- to 110-degree angle.
  • Ensure the keyboard is close and directly in front of you.
  • To help your neck stay relaxed and in a neutral position, the monitor should be directly in front of you, a few inches above eye level.
  • Sit at least 20 inches (or an arm’s length) away from the computer screen.
  • Relax the shoulders and be aware of them rising toward your ears or rounding forward throughout the workday.
  • Exercise

When you neglect exercise, you’re putting both your physical and your mental health at risk, which can negatively impact your productivity and effectiveness at work. This is why you need to get up and move at some point of the day, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk or stretching exercises.

  • Eye fatigue

Computer use is a common cause of eyestrain. These self-care steps can help take some of the strain off your eyes: 

  1. Blink often to refresh your eyes. Blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh your eyes.
  2. Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by looking away from your monitor. 
  3. Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright light and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see objects on your monitor. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.
  4. Adjust your monitor. Position your monitor directly in front of you about an arm’s length away so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level.
  5. Adjust your screen settings. Enlarge the type for easier reading. And adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you.

5. Set boundaries with whoever is in your bubbles

Staying focused means removing any unnecessary distractions within your work hours. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate with the people in your bubble for the full 8 hours of the working day (remember you have microbreaks), but it means setting boundaries. For example make sure the people in your bubble aren’t watching TV too loudly or put up a do not disturb sign outside your workspace. This will help you stay focused throughout the day and keep your workspace as a work-only zone. 

(Note: it’s recommended to find a space that does not coincide with other activities such as sleeping or watching TV if possible) 

3 minutes read time

Transform your safety and security with WolMobile!

WolMobile is here! The latest version of our mobile application has significant enhancements that will make it even easier for organizations to manage the presence of everyone in their duty of care. In fact, we think it will help you transform how you manage safety and security in your organization. 

Who is it for?

WolMobile is for organizations that want a better way to manage the safety and security of employees and Service Providers in their duty of care. Whether they are working in or around high-risk factories, large construction sites, or out on the road alone, WolMobile will make it easier and more accessible to manage everyone on or off-site.

Top features:

  • Automatic Sign in / out

WolMobile automatically signs employees and service providers in and out of your locations and worksites without lifting a finger using their smartphone’s geolocation. The need for your administration team to chase those who forgot to manually sign in and out is eliminated with automatic sign in/out. 

Automatic sign in/ out gives you accurate, up-to-date people presence data but will also save you a lot of time.

  • SOS Alerts 

In the event of an emergency, accident or high-stress situation WolMobile users can activate an SOS alert. The SOS button counts down for 5 seconds before sending the alert (it can be canceled in this time if assistance is no longer required). 

SOS Responders are alerted in real-time that an incident has occurred and are given the information needed to provide assistance. This includes who triggered the alert, their mobile number, location and date and time of the alert. This information can also be shared with First Responders so they are able to assist as quickly as possible. 

  • Arrival and Instant Message notifications

Create an amazing and personalized visitor experience with visitor arrival notifications. Hosts are notified as soon as their visitor signs in receiving an arrival notification along with a photo for identification purposes. 

Custom notifications can be used for whatever you wish, including urgent notifications. Hazard in stairwell 5? No problem. You can send an urgent update to all employees and visitors in the building letting them know they should avoid this area. These notifications can also be segmented by location, who is on and off-site, employees, service providers, and or visitors. 

  • Acknowledgement notices 

Make sure your employees or Service Providers acknowledge important notices during sign-in. Unlike other notices they cannot be skipped so you can be confident they have read and agreed to them. They will have to select one of the responses followed by answering any additional information requested.

  • Location tracking

If you have employees or Service Providers working remotely you can now keep track of these at risk workers with location tracking. You will be alerted when a worker is moving to their next location or Service Provider details are out of date.  

  • Expected duration on-site

Get alerted when an employee or Service Provider is working past their expected duration at a remote site or in a high risk situation. The alert will be sent to the safety operator who can then check the safety of the worker. 

How do I get started?

Getting started with WolMobile is easy. All you need to do is: 

  1. Enable the Integration in your WhosOnlocation Account.
  2. Configure your settings for each of your locations. To enable auto sign in/out, simply drag and drop a geofence around your location using our quick and easy tool. 
  3. Invite your colleagues to download the app.
  4. You’re good to go. Let’s get mobile!

4 minutes read time

Geolocation technology: How big brother keeps us safe

Updated: January 2020

With the rapid evolution of geolocation technology we are now faced with the issue of apps following our every move without really knowing where that information is ending up. Not all app users are comfortable with this type of data collection, which presents challenges for businesses that need this information to give you a stronger user experience or like ourselves that need it to keep you safe. So how do we get big brother to leave us alone but also get the most out of this revolutionary technology?

What is geolocation?

A geolocation is the identification or estimation of a real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar source, mobile phone, or internet connection. The coordinates generated from the geolocation (latitude and longitude) are used to determine a location, such as a street address. 

Why do apps need access to my smartphone’s geolocation?

Geolocations are used to plot courses, track elevation changes, see location history, find nearby shops, tag images on social media, check in to locations and get the local weather information. We also use it every day to make our lives easier, to interact with other people, to solve problems, to set goals, to track anything. 

Our WolMobile app for iOS and Android is designed to keep you safe while working (onsite, remotely or moving between locations). For WolMobile to work effectively it needs access to your location permissions. Here’s an overview of the key features to keep you safe and secure while in your employer’s duty of care: 

  • Automatic sign in/out

If your organization is using automatic sign-in/out, they will have a geofence set up around your organization’s. Once your phone has registered as having crossed into the geofence (using your location information), you’ll be automatically signed in or out. 

  • SOS Alerts

Should you need to send for immediate help, tapping the SOS button will send a notification to your location information to your organization’s nominated SOS Responder(s). The notification contains your location information as part of the alert ensuring assistance can locate you as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

  • Follow me

If you’re working in a high risk situation, alone or traveling between sites, your organization may ask you to use the ‘Follow Me’ feature. Designed for your safety, ‘Follow Me’ alerts your   nominated safety contact if you need assistance in an emergency, to check in with you throughout the day or have spent too long at a high risk or restricted area.  

  • Locations list 

If your organization has multiple sites, WolMobile will use your location in a similar way to Google Maps, providing you with directions, maps, the distance to other locations and ordering the list with the closest locations first. 

Are my apps always tracking me?

The majority of apps on your smartphone can track your location, however, you have to give them access first. If you have downloaded an app that has requested to use your location information you would have been given the option to ‘Always allow’ or ‘Only when using the app’. 

‘Only when using the app’ seems like the more appropriate option but with WolMobile because we need your location to know whether you’re on or off site or if something was to go wrong you must select  ‘Always allow’ when prompted, for WolMobile to work accurately.

The good news is we’re not always tracking you. WolMobile only tracks your location when you’re signed into a location or moving between locations. Once you sign out and finish work at the end of the day, your location will no longer be reported on. 

It’s also worth noting that only selected individuals with admin access to WhosOnLocation will be able to see your location whilst you’re signed in. 

Update: January 2020

We’re always making improvements to our products. Since we first published this blog in November, we’ve already improved WolMobile’s geolocation reporting feature. The latest update brings a whole host of new features, including the ability to filter the map by who’s on or off site, get more information when you hover over a person’s pin and search the map by Service Provider Organization name, to see the location of everyone on-site from that company.

Set up WolMobile today.

2 minutes read time

Feature Highlight: Geolocation Tracking

Did you know you can use WolMobile to update and share locations? WolMobile can use your phone’s location services function to pinpoint where you are.

Employees, contractors, and service providers can update their geolocation if they are working off-site, alone, or remotely. After that, map coordinates are sent to your WhosOnLocation account where users can view the GeoLocation Updates map.

You can also set-up a trigger to send an email or SMS to anyone in your organization who needs to know about remote person’s location and status.

There are some very good safety and security reasons for updating and tracking locations:

To send Health and Safety alerts

Some locations might have site or location-specific hazards. Using WolMobile, employees can be sent hazard warnings or other notices they must acknowledge.

This is a great feature for managing hazard warnings and recording who has and who hasn’t acknowledged them.

To pull location reports

With location updates, you can run employee presence reports to see who is where, when they signed in, and if/when they signed out.

You can also see how they signed in – whether it was by using WolMobile, at an Employee kiosk, via a Location Manager, via an ID card scan etc.

It can be fun too!

4 minutes read time

How the Internet of Things is disrupting visitor management

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), you can now visit a site, be welcomed at reception and sign-in all without interacting with a human.

Now imagine you’re waiting in the lobby for your host to arrive and the visitor management system asks if you’d like a coffee or tea while you wait. You input your order, and it’s sent to a coffee-making machine.

 The Internet of Things has given rise to major developments in both health and safety and the visitor management space.

The building management system (BMS) has sensed your arrival in the lobby and has adjusted the ambient light and temperature in the adjacent meeting room where you will soon join your host.

Sound like the future? It’s already possible. And these are the kind of innovations in visitor experience that our team at WhosOnLocation has on the drawing board.

A web of devices and machines

The IoT is the concept of connecting any internet-capable device to other devices or application services.

This could be everything from cellphones, headphones, lights, fridges, wearable devices, and micro-sensors inside vehicles, machinery, and building management systems (BMS).

In 2016, an analyst from Gartner predicted that by 2020, more than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the IoT.

The dark side of the IoT

Cybersecurity has become increasingly complex for the average person to monitor and keep on top of.

Not only do we need to be worried about cyber attacks on our personal computers, we have to think about all our other internet-accessible devices too.

You might think, okay well if someone hacks my coffee-machine, that’s not exactly a big deal. But there are other less obvious devices with more sinister implications.

For example, there’s the case of researcher Marie Moe, who woke up from an emergency heart operation to find out that she had a wirelessly accessible pacemaker installed inside her without her knowledge.

And though, in her instance, the functionality was not switched on, it’s entirely possible that it may have been. And Marie potentially would have been susceptible to a fatal cyber attack.

With a predicted 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the IoT is unavoidable. But with more awareness and better processes, we will be better prepared for cyber events and threats.

But… the IoT will also make us safer

While cyber threats will increase along with the expansion of the IoT, the IoT will actually make us safer in many other ways.

This will be particularly apparent in the visitor, employee and contractor management space.

Wearables will give businesses the ability to track employee and contractor movements, heart rate, location etc. and a notification will be sent to the relevant people if something seems wrong. For example, if a contractor is working alone and has overstayed their time in a particular zone, an alert will be triggered.

How WhosOnLocation is innovating

With endless possibilities, the challenge for our team here is to identify which devices and data endpoints from third-party sensors we should integrate with.

We’ve already entered the IoT world with our integration with fire alarm monitoring equipment, which monitors and receive data from fire, smoke, and heat sensors. This integration enabled us to deliver automated messaging and alerts to visitors, contractors, and employees when a sensor triggers an alarm inside a customer site.

Coupled with our evacuation roll-call mobile app, WolEvac, the IoT gives us an opportunity through innovation to increase the ROI traditional visitor, contractor, and employee time and attendance management systems have not done to date.

wol integrations

The most common adoption of the IoT is when people presence management systems share data with access control systems.

Access control systems, like Brivo, have been designed to connect to the Internet. Brivo is opening up new possibilities, such as using facial recognition and video analytics from cloud-based video surveillance services like Eagle Eye, for increased security.

This is only the beginning. What else is around the corner? Where can the IoT in the people presence space drive the value chain to another level?

To learn more about how WhosOnLocation is innovating, sign-up to our newsletter below. You’ll receive the latest news about WhosOnLocation’s features, integrations and updates.