The laws governing employee time tracking are not always clearly defined. Things like overtime and meal breaks are managed differently state by state. However, every employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act is obliged to keep records for their employees, including the hours worked each day and the total hours worked per week. What kind of data must be collected and what role does data...
Mobile employee time tracking is becoming important for an ever-increasing number of companies. When a company’s employees regularly work in the field or in a home office, they need to be able to record their work hours from other locations, preferably in a way that does not negatively affect their productivity and allows employees to enter their hours consistently and reliably.
What is mobile time tracking?
In many companies, time tracking is an important tool for staff scheduling to optimize the use of employees and increase productivity through regular evaluations.
Traditionally, time tracking is carried out in a fixed location where employees log in to a time tracking program on a computer or record them at a fixed terminal using a smart card or fingerprint scanner upon entering the company building. The stop time for their work hours is recorded in the same way. However, with the growing flexibility of the workplace, this method is no longer adequate. Mobile time tracking is now gaining traction in the day-do-day operations of businesses.
There is nothing new about the concept of mobile time tracking per se.After all, there is no requirement for it to be digitized. It can also be done with pen and paper, which is still standard in many companies.
When people talk about mobile time tracking tools today, they are usually referring to digital applications used on smartphones, tablets or special mobile devices. However, there are other solutions based on texting or the use of cell phones. These applications use PINs, biometric data (e.g. fingerprints), TAN processes and customized RFID chips to provide users with unique identifiers.
Advantages of digital mobile time tracking
Mobile applications have a variety of advantages. Here are five reasons why you should choose a mobile time tracking app:
- Increased efficiency: Documenting work hours takes only a fraction of the time it would take to do it with pen and paper.
- Fewer errors: Errors are less likely to be made when inputting or sending data through mobile time trackers. An employee in the field can indicate the start of their work with a single click in the app and the end with another click.
- No internet connection required: When using modern apps, the device typically does not need to be connected to the internet. The data is stored locally and automatically synchronizes with the company’s IT infrastructure as soon as an internet connection is established.
- No specific device required: In many cases, mobile time tracking apps can be used on company-owned devices as well as on personal devices for companies with a BYOD policy as long as the required apps can be installed on any mobile device.
- Intelligent analysis: Mobile devices can send the user’s location. This helps the company establish greater transparency and oversight. In addition, the data is made available to the company for evaluation with little or no delay and can easily be used in further evaluations to optimize business processes.
Digital time tracking tools which can only be accessed on the web cannot compete with this level of convenience. It takes too many steps to use them. When working away from the company’s office, employees have to turn on their computer first and connect to the internet. Then, they need to follow several steps to log in to the company’s internal system. With such a complicated user interface, errors are likely to occur which must then be corrected by the HR department. These kinds of tools do not integrate seamlessly with daily business operations.
Meanwhile, mobile time tracking apps focus on the essential functions, can be opened within seconds, are for the most part easy to use and save the HR department from needing to put resources into processing work hour reports.
Disadvantages of mobile time tracking apps
On the surface, it may appear that digital mobile time tracking only has advantages. However, upon closer inspection, you will see that it poses new challenges which do not guarantee a quick ROI for the company.
- Communication requirements: You need a high rate of adoption among employees to be able to reap the benefits offered by mobile time tracking apps. If your employees are not using the apps consistently and reliably or are not carrying their tracking devices with them, even the best technology will be useless. Employees may appreciate having a convenient way to input their data, but many are also skeptical because they do not like the feeling of being constantly watched.
- Compliance with legal regulations: Companies must do their part to ensure transparency and to clearly communicate what the data is being used for. They also need to make sure that their employees are properly informed and consent to their personal data being processed in order to comply with legal regulations on data protection
- Investments and running costs: When starting out, you need to take into account that there will be additional expenditures for the time tracking tools. In addition to the cost of the software, you also need to factor in costs for training employees on how to use the app as well as costs for data analysis. If you have only tracked work hours with pen and paper in the past, you will now have to be prepared for regular costs related to the servicing and maintenance of these digital tools and in some cases licensing fees.
- The perfect application (usually) does not exist: When it comes to choosing a mobile time tracking app, the number of applications out there is overwhelming. Navigating this choice is not a simple task for companies. Therefore, it is recommended to invest in a consultation, which becomes another cost to factor in. However, there is usually not an application available which can meet all requirements set by a company. While it was easy to add notes to a piece of paper, it is not so simple to add additional information when using an app. As a result, additional costs are usually incurred to customize standard apps or to design a bespoke app from the ground up.
What do you need to consider when choosing the right software for you?
If you decide to adopt a mobile time tracking app within your company, you should ask yourself the following key questions in order to find the right solution for you from the multitude of offers out there:
- What kind of data do you want to collect? Do you want to track general regular work hours or only overtime or project-related hours?
- What do you want to learn from tracking work hours? What are you going to analyze?
- What is your budget for the implementation and maintenance of the time tracking app?
Here are some additional relevant questions to ask yourself when considering whether a mobile time tracking app is right for you:
- What kind of device will you be using the time tracking app on (e.g. PDA, smartphone, tablet)?
- What is the maximum duration that will be recorded?
- Which time intervals do you want to use (e.g. seconds, minutes)?
- Should the app be able to track your location and log tasks?
- What kind of additional information will you need to enter?
- How will the data be synchronized with the IT infrastructure (e.g. offline use)?
- Which other programs does it need to be able to interface with?
This is not a comprehensive list of questions relevant to your search, but it is a good starting point for creating your own list of requirements. For example, you can use it when reviewing potential products online to create a shortlist. Afterwards, you can discuss with the suppliers which of these solutions best meets your requirements in a personal consultation.