25 January 2011 - source: Daily Mail (online)
The days of enjoying a leisurely lunch before blaming your late return to work on heavy traffic may finally be at an end.
An inventor has invented a mobile phone 'clocking-on machine' which spies on lazy workers abusing company cars.
The Crystal Ball mobile phone app works the same way as an in-car satellite navigation system.
It allows bosses to keep tabs on their employees' locations, their incoming and outgoing phone calls and messages, plus all of their internet traffic via their company mobile.
Spy on the road: The Crystal Ball app works as a mobile phone 'clocking-on machine' that keep tabs on workers using company cars.
Compatible with most smart phones, it spells the end for workers on the road taking long lunches, claiming they're stuck on a conference call or that they're held up in traffic.
Company director Raj Singh, 49, came up with the app after bosses frequently complained to him about workers using company cars for moving house or airport runs.
Once an employee has logged on for the day, the app allows his manager to follow his movements and phone traffic remotely.
At the end of the working day, the employee can activate the system's privacy function to prevent their movements being recorded.
The software - compatible with GPS-enabled smart phones such as Blackberrys, Nokias and HTCs - can also notify the employer who is driving the company car if there's more than one person in the vehicle, plus feed back real-time statistics including speed, location, distance and journey time.
Inventor: Company director Raj Singh already uses the app to monitor his 30 employees who work on the road
Managing director Mr Singh uses the software on his own team of 30 staff at his firm in Manchester.
He said: 'Office-based staff have always been monitored but now out of office staff can be too.
'If an employee is using a business phone or vehicle, it's only fair that the company boss knows how and when it is being used.
'Bosses frequently let workers take company cars or vans home so they can set off to an appointment or job the following day.
'But they have had no real way of knowing what time their employees set off or even how much of the fuel in the vehicle has been used up for private use, along with the increased wear and tear on the vehicles and increased running.
'This software allows them to track incoming and outgoing call data, as well as vehicle usage by accessing the online portal.'
Clocking-on machines were originally invented in 1888 and quickly became a mainstay of factories allowing bosses to have an official record of the hours an employee worked. But they were abused when workers clocked in on behalf of absent colleagues.
Now relying on a similar system to clocking-on machines, the app allows workers to virtually clock on and off using the touch-screen on their phones.
Costing less than £7 per month, the data gathered by the software is held for three months, allowing employers to download and save the records for reporting purposes.
Mr Singh said: 'Going to the fuel pump is really scary at the moment. So the costs of things going up, employees don't want their workers to use cars for private use.
'I am aware how important people's human rights are, but this is not a big brother kind of software.
'The app has a privacy option that allows the employee to become undetected by the employer once they have clocked off at the end of the day.'
He added: 'These are tough times for many businesses and now they need all staff to be as productive as possible.'