What Does It Take To Make Remote Work Work?

technology-payrollhero

As a business owner, you are bound to look towards expanding your business at some point. In which case, you will have multiple offices at different locations. While you are in one worksite, you will want to stay in touch with employees in your other store locations. Staying connected is essential when your employees are spread out over the map. It’s even more important if your employees work remotely and do not often physically meet you or other employees on a regular basis.

Apps

At PayrollHero, we use a number of apps to facilitate remote work. These apps tie our employees together. We use the apps for face-to face interactions and for quick chats instead of spamming employees’ inboxes. The following apps might be useful for your company too:

SlackThis is the center of all our communication through different departments and offices. Slack allows you to create chat rooms and invite people to them. We use this feature to separate different functions of the team: engineering, business development, etc. Slack is also our metaphorical grapevine. We have chat rooms for random news, general musings and articles or books that anyone wants to share with the team. Slack also allows for private chats, thereby removing the need for emails to coordinate work. Slack is flexible in the sense that it has a number of integrations: Twitter, Mailchimp, appear.in.

Appear.in, Skype, Google HangoutsTeams can’t function without face-to-face meetings. Bosses benefit from meeting their employees face-to-face in order to gauge their emotional state and general well-being. The app features and video quality differ but essentially they help you conduct online meetings.

Asana, TrelloTo ensure that all tasks are tracked and accountable to the relevant employees, we use Asana. These apps are built to suit remote work. Asana allows you to assign tasks in a checklist format whereas Trello breaks down work in the form of projects in which tasks are outlined using cards. Both apps can be accessed online. So you or your employee can work from anywhere in the world and still stay on top of things.

Google Drive, Dropbox for BusinessKeeping track of all the documents and sheets created by multiple departments across different worksites is essential. These apps are tailored towards businesses’ storage needs. With a subscription fee, you have access to unlimited storage, data analytics (for Google) and more. Both apps allow you to track who is editing files and what kind of access you want your employees to have for each file or folder.

It’s More Than Just Apps

Making remote work successful is more than having a suite of apps at your disposal. It requires a shift in the way you and your employees think about work. It requires trust in your employees to work even if you’re not monitoring them at the office. We have inculcated some practices that help maintain discipline and structure even when employees work at different locations across the work. Here are some that have helped us:

Morning catch ups: Every morning, at a time suitable to your employees in their respective time zones, each employee summarizes their work in 60 seconds. The format is: what they accomplished yesterday, what they couldn’t complete, what they will do today and roadblocks to completing their work. From the head of the team down to the entry-level employee must be able to summarize their work in under a minute. The meeting is helpful in understanding where the team is going and what can be done to remove roadblocks.

Handbooks: For new employees, or employees that have changed departments, it is hard to catch up to how things are done when the entire department works remotely. Writing down the steps to each task in a handbook and storing it in Google Drive/Dropbox cuts down on confusion and time wasted in connecting with the employee who knows how to do the required task. Handbooks remove any misunderstandings or errors. It is a fool-proof way of ensuring that the business continues in case someone is not available to lend a helping hand.

Slack-logoUsing Slack to integrate the team: While Slack can be used to create chat rooms and do work, it is often a great tool to include everyone on the team and talk about common interests. Our chat-rooms like #random and #general are great spaces for employees to share ideas and talk about things outside of work. It is a place to plan outings over the weekend or share movie reviews. These conversations pull the team together and allow for cross-departmental interaction; something that could be missing while everyone is focusing on work.

Finally, making remote work possible is about using apps to their maximum capacity and reviewing if they work or not. Managers need to be more mindful of their employees. Employees in turn need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of their work because remote work often results in the blurring of personal and professional life. Altogether, making remote work work is hugely beneficial to employees. All it takes is a little tweaking of the way things are usually done.

How to Deal with the Labour Crunch in Singapore

pablo

As you know, the F&B sector in Singapore has been facing a labour crunch for years now. Currently, for every foreign worker, the F&B sector needs to hire 6 local workers which is an impossible ratio for companies to handle. To attract more local workers, restaurants have had to raise costs without any increase in quality of service. Restaurants that were unable to do this resorted to leaving tables empty.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore proposed some solutions, including relaxing the foreign workers’ levy. While this measure is up to the government’s discretion, there are ways that restaurants can cope with the labour crunch.

Increasing Productivity through Technology

There are many front-end and back-end processes that can be streamlined by automating. In terms of adopting new technology, the restaurant industry has traditionally lagged behind the rest. However, the need to automate is clearer now than ever before. There are many examples in Singapore where restaurants have installed POS systems, set up digital menus or moved the practice of making reservations online.

Sakae Sushi in Singapore is a great example of automated processes. They have a conveyor belt that serves sushi. The belt is an island that is surrounded by tables so that customers can pick whichever dish they like. The restaurant also has iPads on every table to allow customers to order using the menu on the iPad.

McDonald’s Singapore is just catching up to the reality of increasing costs. Four out of approximately 120 outlets in Singapore have kiosks from which customers can order. 20% of their customers use kiosks. The systems reduce manpower required to take orders. It also makes the ordering process fool-proof, thereby saving time and money by preventing errors due to miscommunication between the customer and employee. In addition to reducing errors, McDonald’s employees can focus on back-end tasks and speed up service.

Balancing out costs: The result of automating is that there are shorter queues and more customers walking in through the door. The self ordering payment systems that Ananda Bhavan, a restaurant chain in Singapore uses, cost around $40,000. But in the long run, the investment pays off because of more orders and higher revenue.

To see a more tangible improvement in processes, Aptsys – a self-ordering POS system – released statistics on their website on how their product benefits restaurants. By their estimates, ordering speed increased by 70%, repeat orders increased by 30% and human errors decreased by 80%.

Tax credits: The government of Singapore has come up with incentives for companies to adopt newer technology. This includes training the staff with the new technology as well. The Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme gives companies a 400% tax deductions or 60% cash payout as long as the improvements in technology come under the six qualifying activities.

Singaporean restaurants are increasingly seeing a fall in revenue because of empty tables and increasing labour costs. The only way for the industry to cope with falling margins is to adopt technology that can reduce manpower. We have previously suggested ways to upgrade and adopt new technology in areas of reservations, POS systems and food delivery. Over the next few years, it remains to be seen whether foreign worker quotas will be relaxed in order to release the pressure that these industries are under. Currently, the way to move forward is by using the tax credits that the government is offering to upgrade restaurant technology.

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How do I open a restaurant in the Philippines? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in the Philippines.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit for opening a restaurant in the Philippines!

screen shot

Download it now – free! 
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about the Philippines, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in the Philippines or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG are all about.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. For example, did you know that the Home delivery and takeaway sector grew at a staggering 10.3%. It’s closest competitor was the fast food industry at 8.1%.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the owner of the Advent Manila Hospitality Group, Mr. Andrew Masigan, and asked him about how he runs his business in this part of the world. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail and BPO industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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Executive Interview: Russell Yu, IKI Concepts

I had the opportunity to meet up with Russell Yu, the Director of IKI Concepts in Singapore. Russell is in the process of bringing his successful restaurant concepts from Singapore to the Philippines.

IKI ConceptsIn Singapore, Russell operates Kaiseki Yoshiyuki, Horse’s Mouth Bar and Uma Uma! Original Hakata Ramen. They are very popular spots on Orchard Road. Russell is in the process of bringing Uma Uma! Original Hakata Ramen to the Philippines with the first location opening in November 2015 at the SM Mall of Asia.

Interestingly, one of Russell’s ideas to attract talent in Singapore is to rotate the team through Manila. We know something about this as we do the same thing with our #AdventureEngineering program. We rotate our team through our Whistler, Manila and Singapore offices and use that adventure as a core part of our recruiting effort – and it works. Russell’s take on this is interesting and I think has legs. Singapore’s restaurant and retail businesses have a big challenge when it comes to recruiting. The Singapore unemployment rate is 1.9% [2014 (Q4)] and it is difficult to bring in non-Singaporeans for the roles. So many restaurants and retailers go understaffed. The concept of rotating team members from Singapore through to Manila could be that added benefit to not only attract A players but keeps them around. Interested in learning more about the opportunities at IKI Concepts, reach out to their HR team.

News: Labour Crunch in Singapore

Labour Crunch in SingaporeThe F&B sector is facing a labour crunch. Restaurants are turning away diners even though they have empty tables because they are understaffed. This has been a problem in Singapore, but never more serious than now. Singapore’s unemployment rate is at a stunning 1.9%. The turnover rate in the F&B business is the highest among all industries.

As an economics student, I see this as an interesting problem. Finding out what is going on behind the statistic is necessary from a policy perspective. But it also helps a restaurant owner to prepare his or her restaurant and steer through till the economy adjusts to the issue. So what is going on and what can you expect?

  1. Saturated labour market

With such a low unemployment rate, the pool for new recruits is drying. It would help if Singapore could widen its employment base and rope in people who have dropped out of the labour force altogether. However there is a problem with this.

Employment numbers among locals is concentrated towards food services, retail trade and construction. Wages in these domestic oriented industries are lower than export oriented ones. Low wages are a disincentive. People will be more willing to joining the labour force if wages were higher.

The second problem with widening the employment base is that the population of Singapore is too small. There aren’t enough locals to widen the labour market. But more on that later.

Now, we have mentioned that wages are low in the food services and retail market. But you must be noticing that you need to pay higher to retain your workers. This is the typical economics demand-supply problem. As the demand for workers rises while the supply remains the same, wages must rise. If it has not happened in a dramatic way yet, it will eventually. Markets will adjust and overcome rigidities unless the government intervenes.

  1. Labour Laws

Let’s go back to widening the labour market and why we can’t seem to do that. Firstly, Singapore’s local population is too small. Secondly, foreign workers are restricted by numbers and industries.

For the F&B services, it would help to employ a foreign worker for every old-age worker, as suggested by Food and Beverage Work Group Report. While this is a policy decision that the government has to take, restaurant owners should be aware about the policy changes that are likely to come about, considering the current labour market.

  1. Perception of working in the F&B industry

It is hardly surprising that the labour market is not kind to F&B services. The hours are eratic, the pay is low. The lack of a minimum wage in Singapore leads to wages being pushed down to a point where Singaporeans cannot accept the job.

The overall benefits of an entry level worker in the F&B industry are minimal. This could have damaging effects. If the government does decide to loosen rules on part-time, the connotation that is attached to F&B employment may hinder chances of employing students. If this perception does not change, the F&B industry might see more restaurants shutting down.

Solutions

Let’s say that the government will intervene and solve the situation at some point of time. But what can you do in the meantime?

  1. Increasing Productivity Through Technology

There can be no better time to invest in technology than now. With a shrinking labour force, restaurants have fewer waiters to take orders and handle customers. By installing POS systems, waiters can focus on serving customers. Improving other aspects of your businesses will also cut costs and help you through the tight economy. Inventory management and food delivery ordering systems can be digitzed. All this aims towards reducing manpower and costs.

  1. Improving the perception of working in F&B

This is imperative in order to bring in workers into your restaurant. There are a few ways you can do this. Firstly, add more meat to the job. The worker should know that there is a possibility of growing in the job.

For more tips on retaining young workers read “How we keep our young talents from leaving“.

Secondly, workers must be awarded with performance based incentives. They need to feel empowered and know that working hard will pay off. This will raise the perception of the industry as one that can further career prospects for individuals.

  1. Training

Lastly, Putting them through well designed training programs will improve turnover rates. The Group Report suggest the training program implemented in Singapore Airlines and customized to the F&B industry.

The F&B industry needs to change with the times and adapt to the current economic conditions. Restaurant owners need to adopt best practices and use technology to reduce human errors and eventually reduce costs. This way, the industry will be less exposed to labour market fluctuations that can potentially result in damaging Singapore’s reputation as the food hub of Southeast Asia.


If you are in need of people, check out our friends at BGC for your staffing needs.

 

Where does South East Asia rank on Maternity Leave?

baby photoEmployee benefits are a growing concern for human resource (HR) administrators. South East Asia (SEA) lags behind the global average in terms of providing employee benefits. However, when it comes to maternity leave, the situation has been improving.

According to the International Labour Organization’s report: Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world, there has been a shift towards increasing maternity leave periods that go further than the 14 – week standard suggested by ILO. However the coverage is neither sufficient nor long enough for mothers before they have to get back to work.

SEA ranks in the middle to lower half in terms of length of maternity leave. On average, around 12 to 13 weeks are given as leave.

Singapore: the Ministry of Manpower lays down conditions for eligibility of maternity leave. This leave can be paid by the employer or can be reimbursed by the government. The length of the leave depends on certain conditions. A maximum of 16 weeks is allowed if the following criteria are met:

  1. The child will be a Singapore citizen
  2. The mother is legally married to the father of the child
  3. The mother has worked in the same establishment for a minimum of 3 months.

The last condition is mandatory for eligibility. MoM also takes into account the number of children the mother has to judge eligibility and coverage.

Malaysia: The 1955 Employment Act gives mothers 60 days (8 weeks) of maternity leave as long as the employee has worked in the company for 90 days prior to taking leave. The employer needs to pay the employee in full during leave. There are certain concessions for civil servants. Malaysia does not provide maternity leave for the sixth child and following children. Because of the short leave provided, mothers often work up to the due date in order to spend time with their child during leave.

Indonesia: Three months (or 12 weeks) of paid leave are given to mothers. At least 1.5 months of this leave must be taken after the birth of the child.

The Philippines: Article 133(a) of the Labour Code states that an employee who has worked in the establishment for at least 6 months is entitled paid leave 2 weeks before the due date and 4 weeks after delivery. The employer is required to pay for only the first four children.

Under SSS law, a woman member of the SSS is entitles to maternity benefits. While the employer must pay these benefits to the employers, it can be reimbursed by the SSS. In order to abail the Maternity Benefits, the employee must pay at least 3 monthly contributions within the year before the semester of childbirth.

Thailand: An employee is entitled to 90 days (or 12 weeks) of maternity leave. However, the employer must pay a maximum of 45 days. The remaining 45 days are paid from the Social Welfare Fund. In order to avail payment from the Social Welfare Fund, the employer is expected to make contributions to the Fund for at least 7 months before pregnancy.

Here we have a list of countries and the maternity leave that they offer:

Duration Countries
< 12 weeks ·         Hong Kong

·         Malaysia

·         Papua New Guinea

·         Philippines

·         Taiwan

12 – 13 weeks ·         Cambodia

·         China

·         DPRK

·         East Timor

·         Indonesia

·         Laos

·         Myanmar

·         South Korea

·         Thailand

14-17 weeks ·         Brunei

·         Japan

·         Singapore

>  17 weeks ·         Mongolia

·         Vietnam

Source of Cash Benefits: Historically, Asia has seen a higher percentage of the maternity leave being paid by the employer. However, the trend is moving towards cash benefits coming from mixed sources: from the employer and social security services. To put this in perspective, Europe, a region that has led the way for right of the employee, has always provided cash benefits from social security.

Paternity Leave: Rights offered to fathers are fairly limited. Countries offer just a couple of days of paternity leave as a shared provision between parents. Usually this leave is taken by the mother. Sometimes this leave is not paid. Approximately 28% of countries in Asia provide paternity leave.

If Zen Riddles Were For Millennials (video)

“He seeks an entry level job to get experience,
but he can’t get an entry level job without experience.”

College Humor tackles young adults looking to move into the workforce.
(*The end is a little NSFW)

Watch here.


“If Zen Riddles Were For Millenials.”“If Zen Riddles Were For Millenials.” Born after 1980? You’ll understand.

Posted by CollegeHumor on Saturday, May 23, 2015

Restaurant Jobs and Salaries in Singapore

restaurantLife on the Line is a book written by Grant Achatz, owner and chef of the best restaurant in the world: Alinea. The book is about how Grant rose through the ranks to finally become an executive chef and a pioneer in molecular gastronomy. I loved the book. Not only was it a remarkable story about perseverance, it gave a glimpse of what it means to work in a restaurant.

While reading the book, you get an idea of what happens behind the scenes. Like every other restaurant, Alinea has the regular mix of members on the team: a general manager, restaurant manager, executive chef, sous chef, commis, sommelier, the captain waiter, regular waiters, bartender. The whole orchestra.

Most of this was new to me. My knowledge on restaurants went as far as:

  1. Waiter;
  2. Chef;
  3. Food

And that’s about it.

So a breakdown on how restaurants work from a management perspective was an eye-opener to say the least. Naturally, restaurants around the world have the same structure. Singapore is no different. Given below is a little summary of the standard jobs in any restaurant. Not all restaurants have all the components.  Most hiring admins in restaurants go by this convention:

General Manager: The CEO of the restaurant. She makes sure things run smoothly. She oversees operations, makes sure supplies arrive on time and hiring and firing activities run smoothly. She tries to cut costs and improve sales too.

Restaurant Manager: He makes sure that training of new employees runs smoothly. He deals with customers, allocates manpower and deals with the maintenance of the place.

Maître d’: She manages the front of house operations. By maintaining the customer database, the maître d’ makes bookings. She also welcomes customers as they enter the restaurant.

Executive chef: The executive chef creates new dishes and plans the menu for every outlet. He looks after the overall direction of the restaurant or outlet.

Head Chef (chef de cuisine): The head chef is the CEO of the kitchen. She allocates duties and ensures there are supplies. She manages daily operations in the kitchen.

Sous Chef: The second in command. He works under the head chef and makes sure things run smoothly in case the head chef is not around. He also ensures the quality of supplies coming in.

Chef de Partie: This is a chef who is in charge of a particular section: grill, pastry, whatever was allocated to her. She makes sure the cooks under him deliver what is required from the section.

Sommelier: Everyone loves the wine guy. He is an expert on wine and food pairing. He maintains the inventory, trains the staff on what wines to suggest and teaches them the convention on serving wine.

Head Waiter: A head waiter is in charge of other waiters/waitresses. She trains them. She also waits on tables and suggests dishes and wine pairings.

Waiter: He waits on tables. He also suggests dishes from the menu. Waiters are trained on how to serve the dishes and the wine that goes with them.

With that crash course on who is who in a restaurant, below we have a table on their average monthly salary in Singapore. This varies based on the location of the restaurant and the type of restaurant.

Title

Salary/Month (SGD)
General Manager 4,000
Restaurant Manager 3,200
Restaurant Assistant Manager 2,500
Executive Chef 7,400
Head Chef 4,000
Sous Chef 3,100
Chef De Partie 2,200
Sommelier 3,000
Captain Waiter/Waitress 1,800
Waiter/Waitress 1,500

We hope this gives you a better idea on the industry!

Life At PayrollHero From Our Newest Team Member Maita Ocampo

Editors Note: Introducing Maita Ocampo, Business Development at PayrollHero. She will be contributing to the PayrollHero blog from time to time.

Wait What?

Overwhelmed, confused, and highly emotional – these are not the end of day emotions that I’ve imagined my first day with PayrollHero to be like. Apparently, I found myself having dinner alone in a restaurant after my first day and my thought bubble said something like: WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

Looking back, I think it was just “info overload” on my end. Haha! Well, to be honest, technology is not really my area of expertise. However, one of the reasons why I took the job at PayrollHero is because I knew that I was ready and up for the challenge. Getting sent to visit the team in Singapore after a month and working directly with the co-founder is of course, a plus. Boom! The opportunities are endless.

payroll singapore payroll team

(Myself with Steve Jagger, Michael Stephenson and Adam Baechler in Singapore checking out the view of the Marina Bay Sands.)

First Three Months

My first three months were more of getting accustomed to the tools, getting to know the product, and catching up with the company and our timelines. Now that three months have passed, I couldn’t be thankful enough for PayrollHero and its founders for giving me the opportunity to be part of a platform that aims to make the lives of employees and their respective companies better. This is something that really excites me!

Non-Stop Learning

Let me share with you 3 key learnings from my first three months with PayrollHero:

  1. Ask, ask, ask – Never assume anything. If you’re not certain about something, it is better to ask. Asking questions will not make you look lame, ignorant, or unsure. In fact, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence. It can also give way to deeper insights and better answers.
  2. Waking up early rocks – I wake up at 6AM every day and work usually ends at 4PM. Crazy, right? These past few months, I’ve learned that you actually get to do more work when you wake up early. At the same time, you get to spend quality time with people you love. According to Forbes and Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, “morning people” are more proactive and are more likely to agree with statements like “I feel in charge of making things happen.” His research also revealed that they are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently.
  3. Productivity tools – I remember telling Steve, our co-founder, on my first day that I haven’t downloaded so many apps in one day! Haha. Yes, PayrollHero embraces technology (a lot). It helps us in our open communication mandate. We love PipelineDeals, Asana, Google Docs (Google white paper on PayrollHero), LinkedIn, Slack, Sqwiggle, Appear and Zopim to name a few. It may seem hard to take it all in, but these apps are just a matter of getting used to. Not only does it make learning everyday more fun, it’s definitely helping us work efficiently as well.

Exciting Times Ahead

I guess, no matter what your job is, your first couple of days at work could really be a nerve-racking experience so it’s important for one to focus and have the proper mindset for it.

What I enjoy the most about working for PayrollHero is​ that everyone’​s contributing and thinking of ways to achieve better results for our clients while enjoying the process. We get to learn a lot from each other too!

payroll team in philippines

(Myself with Cristian Guerrero, Kieran Peppiatt, Stephen Jagger, Adam Baechler and Mike Stephenson at the Hyatt in the City of Dreams Manila)

As we’re expanding rapidly in the Philippines and have soft launched in Singapore, I am looking forward for the next countries that we’re targeting this year to become payroll live and the adventures that come along with it. Exciting times, indeed!


Want to read more about our Adventure Engineering lifestyle?

– You might like Nico’s story about his first few days in the Whistler office after leaving the Philippines.

– Adventure Engineers scatter

– Looking to join us? Check out our hiring page or how our work from home program works.