The challenges of tracking time and attendance in the modern workforce

Tracking time and attendance has become a complex task. Remote work, flexible hours and gig work have introduced challenges that require innovative solutions.

Abbi Melville • 
The challenges of tracking time and attendance

Tracking time and attendance for the modern worker has become a complex task due to the structurally diverse nature of today’s work environments. While traditional punch clocks and manual timesheets once sufficed, the rise of remote work, gig work, flexible hours, and global teams has introduced new challenges that demand increasingly innovative time-tracking solutions.

It’s now harder for managers to track when and where employees work

Modern workplaces are no longer confined to a single physical location. In fact, according to the CIPD’s 2023 research: Flexible and Hybrid Working Practices, 83% of employers now have hybrid working in place where the employee’s time is a rough 50/50 split between homeworking and office-based.

This shift, accelerated by the pandemic, has made it challenging for managers to track when and where employees work.

Legacy timekeeping systems are often inadequate for capturing the hours worked by employees who divide their time among various locations. The challenge lies in implementing systems that are flexible enough to accommodate varied work arrangements while still providing accurate data.

Lower barrier to entry for time and attendance tracking for desk-based work

In desk-based environments, much of the necessary hardware and operating systems are already in place. Modern desk-based workers typically use computers and smartphones, which can easily support digital time and attendance tracking.

GPS-based tracking apps on desktops and mobile phones enable efficient tracking in flexible working environments. Additionally, some apps can monitor desk workers’ productivity, providing more insightful time and attendance data, although this raises privacy concerns.

The lower barrier to entry for these technologies allows desk-based industries to quickly adapt to the new flexible working environment. Companies can leverage the existing workstation culture and personal devices to implement sophisticated time-tracking solutions, making it easier to manage remote and hybrid workforces.

However, the balance between accurate monitoring and respecting employee privacy remains a critical consideration. HR Managers must ensure that the data collected is used responsibly and transparently to maintain trust and ensure compliance with privacy regulations.

Time-tracking in non-desk-based industries can be especially challenging

Efficient time-tracking in non-desk-based industries, such as construction, manufacturing, hospitality, and retail, may be particularly challenging.

These sectors, which collectively account for a significant portion of the UK’s GDP, have the potential to benefit greatly from advanced time-tracking technology. However, transitioning from analogue to digital solutions can be more difficult in these industries due to the lack of computer-based workstations and digital working culture. Swipe card-based clock-in systems have proven to be the more pragmatic entry-level technology for these sectors, but many believe that these will eventually need to give way to more sophisticated digital time-tracking solutions.

Moreover, the nature of non-desk-based work often involves unpredictable schedules and locations. For instance, construction workers might move between various sites, and retail employees may work variable shifts. Time-tracking solutions in these environments must be robust enough to handle these complexities, offering features like mobile clock-in/out capabilities and real-time location tracking to ensure accurate and reliable data collection.

Innovations in non-desk-based worker time-tracking

Modern technology for tracking work in non-desk-based industries has extended beyond the swipe card, a widely used, entry-level clock-in tech. Cutting-edge technology such as Sense AutoClock extends to clock-in technology, giving factory managers not just an automatic and accurate picture of hours worked, but much greater insights into worker movements around the factory, too. For example, by giving workers a Sense Badge and sticking an indoor Sense Gateway to the wall, employers can see if employees are in a designated work zone or break zone. This will allow for much better management of breaks, work-station presence, and productivity in factory environments.

In addition, wearable technology may have a significant role to play in time and attendance tracking in non-desk-based industries, especially where the workers are mobile. Wearables can track movement, location, productivity, and even health metrics, providing a comprehensive view of an employee’s workday, and helping employers protect their health and wellbeing better. These devices can alert managers to potential issues, such as hard falls, or extended periods of inactivity, enabling proactive management.

Integrating wearable technology with time-tracking systems can add an extra dimension to time and attendance tracking.

Time-tracking in the haulage and delivery sector is being transformed by technology

The haulage sector has faced a recruitment crisis, partly due to a lack of flexible working options. Haulage companies are now offering more flexibility to attract and retain workers. Given the strict rules around working hours, breaks, and rest periods, traditional clock-in technology would be inefficient and potentially inaccurate for this sector.

Mobile app-based time-tracking, supported by GPS, allows employers to reliably track and calculate working hours for haulage workers. This technology enables flexible work patterns while ensuring compliance with legal requirements, thus increasing engagement, safety, and staff retention.

By using mobile app-based time-tracking supported by GPS, (to see if people on the move are clocking in where they say they are), employers can reliably and efficiently track and calculate working hours for haulage workers, enabling them to work flexible work patterns, have the required 45 hour-rest and other obligatory breaks. This kind of GPS-based tracking can increase the efficiency and reliability of time tracking in any field-based area.

If time-tracking tech can be integrated with vehicle telematics technology (which can monitor driver behaviour and other metrics), then productivity tracking will soon become part of the mix.

Field-based work can be transformed with advanced time and attendance tracking tools

Advanced time-tracking technologies could transform both desk-based and non-desk-based work environments. For field-based workers, such as those in healthcare, utilities, and maintenance, GPS-enabled apps and mobile solutions offer a practical way to track time and attendance. These tools can log work hours and locations in real time, reducing the administrative burden on employees and managers alike.

Additionally, field-based time-tracking solutions can improve customer service and operational efficiency. For example, in the utilities sector, workers can be dispatched and monitored in real time, ensuring timely service delivery and accurate billing.

In healthcare, mobile time-tracking can help manage home healthcare visits in the domiciliary care sector, ensuring that care providers are where they need to be when they need to be there, enhancing patient care and satisfaction. Not to mention peace of mind for the family of patients, who want to know their loved ones are being well cared for!

Advanced time-tracking technologies are transforming time and attendance tracking in both desk-based and non-desk-based work environments. By enabling greater flexibility and providing more accurate data, these technologies help organisations adapt to the evolving landscape of modern work. They ensure that all employees, regardless of their work environment, are accurately tracked, fairly compensated, and effectively managed, contributing to a more productive and engaged workforce.