Chris Ellis, Nintex Pre-Sales Director, shares what motivated him to create a fully digital and mobile-optimized worker permit, following the Victorian government in Australia’s announcement about best practice related to the COVID-19 stage four restrictions.
Over to Chris…
The inspiration behind building a digital solution to the Victorian Worker Permit came after hearing the Premier of Victoria launch the critical Worker Permit program with the phrase “People will have a piece of paper that says, ‘This is where I work, this is what I do.’”
Many questions came to mind at the prospect of relying on such a combustible and fragile medium (paper) for such an important process.
Like many hastily launched efforts to deal with the challenges presented during the pandemic, it seems digitally transforming the problem by using technology to significantly improve the process, had not been an option other than making a template available online.
A paper-based option highlights several practical challenges:
- As an employee, how do I print the form off if I don’t have a printer at home?
- How can my employer sign it if we’re all working remotely?
- Is it safe to travel to my local office supply store? Are they open? If they are outside my 5km radius, is that allowed?
- What if my permit is damaged in the next Melbourne downpour – there’s bound to be one in the next 5 minutes, even though the sun’s out right now?
- What if I spill my latte on my permit?
- What I forget it at home?
Audiences are increasingly sophisticated
The only hint at a digital solution being considered by the Victorian government was a telling footer that adorned the bottom of the official webpage:
“Carrying a permit: Employees must carry the worker permit and should carry photo identification when traveling to and from the workplace. A worker permit can be shown electronically to authorities such as a photo, or scanned copy, on a mobile device.”
This indicates strongly that the responsibility for taking action would be on the business or employer, and no digital solution would be offered at the source.
The Victorian Worker Permit is merely scratching the surface of a systemic issue we shouldn’t still be facing in 2020. Digital solutions shouldn’t be the afterthought or poor cousin to a paper-driven process, especially when our personal lives are so consumed by digital and smart solutions.
As digital custodians, many individuals are thrust decades into the past by employers, fuelled by a belief that it’s either quicker, easier, or even cheaper to resort to a manual paper process.
When I built the Victorian Worker Permit, I had exported and imported it from our Nintex Solution Accelerator Gallery at gallery.nintex.com in the time it took the official government website to recover from a crash. And at the same time, it would have taken to complete a form, I’d simulated a “send” to all Nintex’s Victoria-based business unit employees as a test.
As for the argument against cost, what price can we put on the time, effort, and usability of the entire process for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of our employees?
We’re knee-deep in digital opportunities
The Victorian Worker Permit is merely a scapegoat for the hundreds and thousands of roughly-chopped, cobbled-together manual forms and solutions pushed out to company intranets and websites during the pandemic.
The following could (and should) have been brought kicking and screaming into the digital age rather than side-stepping the issue by hosting a paper-based form somewhere in the ether: COVID track and trace forms; work from home self-check forms; visitor check-ins; JobKeeper and JobSeeker forms; requests for financial assistance and loan deferments; mutual non-disclosure agreements; customer, vendor and employee onboarding; leave and sickness requests; inspection forms; and the lowly contact us and feedback forms.
People will resist antiquated processes
The opportunities for rapid change are out there, and if we boil it down to its component parts of data capture, data process, and data Improvement, they’re all the same! By iterating on one simple concept, such as the Victorian Worker Permit solution, in a day you could have identified forty, fifty, or hundreds more just like it.
Start with your end-user or customer in mind. Is this the best solution for them? Tech is willing and able to make a difference – let’s harness digital solutions to improve the way people work and live, even during challenging times.
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