Professional Services/Tech: Use Geofencing to Track Remote Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

geofencing for remote employees
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

The professional services/tech industry is fortunate that many of the jobs can be done at home. Now that employers have expanded telecommuting due to COVID-19, they need a good way to track virtual teams. There is a misconception among some that you only need to track hourly workers. This is simply not true. It’s even more important to track all employee hours during the coronavirus regardless of how employees are paid.

Professional services/tech/legal/scientific companies need to track time and attendance for ALL employees—hourly and salaried.

7 reasons you need to track time for all employees:

  1. Make sure you pay employees accurately (the last thing they need is a short paycheck)
  2. FMLA/FLSA compliance
  3. To maintain employee timesheets for any coronavirus government employer relief programs
  4. To maximize your labor budget
  5. Accurate PTO calculations
  6. Establish accountability (for everyone)
  7. Help managers keep projects on schedule

Time and Attendance Systems for Remote Workers

Mobile time and attendance apps help you track team members wherever they are working. Employees use a smartphone or tablet to clock in from any location. The app is synced with (or a part of) the time and attendance system.

Tech/legal/prof services/scientific companies use mobile time tracking apps for employees at home and employees who move around during the day.

Don’t Get a Time Tracking System Without Geofencing

Trying to choose a time tracking system for the coronavirus? Consider geofencing capability. Don’t go half-way. If you have at home employees, there is no reason to use a system without geofencing.

Retool, Retrench, and Rebuild Framework

During the rebuilding phase, many organizations are bringing employees back to the office in phases. Regardless of where your teams are working, you need to accurately track their time. Geofencing ensures accurate remote time tracking for emergency sick leave administration and PPP loan forgiveness.

Geofencing Provides Ultimate Oversight During COVID-19

If you need to know if employees clock in and out at the right location, geofencing is the best way to do that.

Before we proceed, let’s back up a little.

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a tracking capability used in concert with a pre-set virtual boundary. The virtual boundary is called a geofence. It is based on an actual physical location.

The Location Triggers an Action

Identifying a virtual boundary is the first component. The second piece is the action that occurs. For example, a monitoring app can send a text to a parent when their child arrives home. A marketing app can text a coupon when you approach a business location.

How Does the App Track Location?

Geofencing requires GPS, RFID (radio-frequency identification), Wi-Fi or cellular data to track the location of a mobile device or RFID tag.

How Do You Use Geofencing For Employee Time Tracking?

In the employee time tracking app, draw a geofence around a site on a map. Most apps let you identify multiple geofences. Assign employees to designated areas.

The app tracks their location relative to the geofence.

9 Benefits of Geofencing for Mobile Employee Time Tracking

  1. Identify employees who clock in or out beyond their authorized location
  2. Receive a notification in real time if a punch occurs outside the fence
  3. Generate reports of punch times and locations for a specific employee or group
  4. Track employee hours for accurate payroll
  5. Retain employee time cards for FLSA, FMLA, coronavirus relief recordkeeping
  6. Enforce time and attendance policies
  7. Ensure employees know they are at the correct location
  8. Track employee hours per project or job location
  9. Track employee mileage for company reimbursement

Do You Have a Problem With Time Theft?

Employees can’t clock in when they aren’t in their authorized work location. For additional time theft prevention, pair geofencing with schedule enforcement. Schedule enforcement restricts early or late punches. You will have two safeguards; 1. Geofencing restricts out-of-bounds punches. 2. Schedule enforcement restricts out-of-schedule punches.

Allow Managers to Manage

Managers are more effective when they don’t have to monitor offsite employees. During the coronavirus, all of us have full plates with family and work responsibilities. The system sends an alert if an employee punches in outside of the geofence. Managers can focus only on problem punches, not the in-bounds punches. Managing by exception saves time and improves efficiency.

Manage Fluctuating Daily Service Schedules

Do your mobile employees serve clients directly? Geofencing helps you manage fluctuating daily service schedules. If an employee gets stuck in traffic, you can see where they are. They don’t have to call you from the road, risking safety and tying up a phone line. Know immediately if you have to modify the appointment schedule.

How to Implement Geofencing for Tracking Remote Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you are planning to use geofencing during the coronavirus, here are issues to address before the rollout.

1. Inform Employees

Inform employees that you are introducing geofencing. If you don’t tell them and they find out later, they will feel like they are being spied on. Don’t erode their trust. Especially when they are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic. Explain all the benefits discussed previously. You don’t want them to have the misperception that it will only be used to reprimand late or absent employees.

2. Review Mobile Device Policies/Cell Phone Plan

A geofencing app may use mobile data and can affect battery life. If your employees use their own mobile devices, take this into consideration. If you provide devices to your mobile employees, review your business cell phone plan. You might want to change your plan before using a geofencing app.

3. Teach Employees How to Use The System

Time tracking apps are super easy to use. It may seem unnecessary to give formal training. But you can’t assume that every employee and manager understands exactly what to do. Train them thoroughly: how to punch in and out, how to view time cards, and how to request time off. If your system syncs with scheduling, show them how to view their schedule and request a shift trade. During the coronavirus, this training may need to take place during a teleconference. If you have an HRMS portal, include a link to training.

4. Review Time and Attendance Policies

You should have explained time and attendance policies to employees when they were hired. Remind employees of the policies before implementing geofencing. Include the policies in your employee handbook. Ensure that managers treat all team members equally when it comes to time and attendance.

The team at SwipeClock appreciates the employers and employees who are flattening the coronavirus curve by allowing employees to work at home.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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