For construction crews that are on different job sites frequently, a rugged or digital portable time clock ensures accurate timekeeping. In this article, we break down 2023’s 4 best portable time clocks—both rugged and digital—for construction companies.
Construction crews face unique challenges in time tracking. With constant changes in job sites, exposure to the elements, and a need for durability, it can be difficult to track employee time.
Portable time clocks can help. There are 2 main types of portable time clocks for construction crews: rugged and digital.
A rugged clock is a physical device that can travel between job sites and offers durability against weather and rough environments. Some options can connect to the internet or store data internally. A digital clock is accessible from any connected device, like a smartphone or tablet, and enables employees to clock in and out on the go.
In this article, we explore the top 4 portable time clocks—digital and rugged—for construction workers to help you pick the best one for your team.
If you don’t have the time to read through our research, jump down to our quick comparison table.
Our Top Picks
Best all-in-one portable time clock
ExakTime JobClock Hornet
Good for projects where smartphones or internet-connected devices aren’t allowed
Good for large teams who need a pocket-sized clock
What to Look For in a Portable Time Clock for Construction Crews
Look for the following features when searching for a portable time clock for your crew.
- Portability. It’s essential the clock can move between job sites. A lightweight, battery-operated time clock that’s easy to keep charged is ideal. While many rugged clocks fit the bill, with mobile clocking apps, an employee’s personal device becomes their time clock.
- Durability. The clock needs to be built to withstand exposure to the weather and the general construction environment, like sawdust and spills.
- Connectivity and integrations. A good rugged clock will provide data that can integrate with other software you might use, like scheduling or payroll tools. The best digital options will have built-in integrations. For example, Connecteam directly integrates with QuickBooks Online and Gusto for payroll processing.
- Battery life. This applies specifically to rugged time clocks. A long-lasting battery prevents you from needing to recharge the clock frequently and reduces the risk of it dying while your workers are in the field. It also prevents you from needing to carry a battery backup onsite.
- Geofencing. Specifically on digital clocks, this feature lets you set up borders around your job sites and prevent workers from punching in or out unless they’re within the geofence.
- Time theft prevention. A rugged clock might work with tags or ID cards to avoid buddy punching and other time theft issues. Digital clocks can be even more particular, tracking IP addresses for buddy punches and monitoring employees for unapproved overtime.
- Easy-to-use interface. The easier your clock is to use, the faster employees can get to work—and the more efficient your administrative duties will be.
- Accurate data. Some clocks do more than just show the time and date. For example, digital clocks can give real-time information about when an employee approaches overtime or when a team member’s punches don’t match their schedule.
- Data storage capacity. This can be useful for a team without internet connectivity or if there’s a power outage on site. Clocks often keep a certain number of punches in an internal memory that they can later transmit via internet or phone data.
The 4 Best Portable Time Clock for Construction Crewss of 2023
Connecteam is an all-in-one work management platform that includes everything you need for employee time tracking on any job site.
Features like geofencing, GPS location tracking, an in-app chat, and smart notifications make Connecteam a perfect portable time clock for construction teams. Rather than purchasing a separate rugged clock for each job site, with Connecteam, your workers’ devices become their time clocks.
Let’s explore Connecteam’s features in more detail.
Accurate time tracking on the go
Connecteam’s time clock records employees’ time down to the second. Workers can clock in and out with a single touch of their device at any job site they’re at, and the clock will automatically start and stop recording their hours.
Employees can also add or adjust time entries manually if they forget to clock in or out for the day.
Make any device a centralized clock-in station with kiosk mode
Connecteam is also a perfect fit if you want a central clock-in station at any job site.
You can deploy Connecteam as a kiosk app on any internet-connected device—like a laptop, tablet, or phone—that multiple employees can clock in and out from.
You can give each of your workers a unique PIN they’ll enter when punching in and out. Plus, you can set certain timeframes for clock-in and clock-out to prevent workers from arriving late or leaving early.
GPS functionality to prevent time theft
Connecteam’s digital clock offers 2 GPS components: GPS location tracking and geofencing.
GPS location tracking allows you to quickly check employees’ real-time locations while they’re working. This ensures they’re always in the right locations and can help you ensure workers are safe if they’re the only ones at a job site. Connecteam automatically stops tracking locations as soon as employees clock out.
As a manager, you can set up geofences, or virtual boundaries, around job sites to ensure employees can clock in and out only when they’re physically onsite. The software will send employees notifications to clock in when they’re inside the geofence and will automatically clock them out when they exit it.
In addition, Connecteam allows you to create an unlimited number of geofences so you’re covered at all your job sites.
Save administrative time and prevent errors with automated timesheets
Using employees’ time entries, Connecteam will automatically generate digital timesheets. The process takes seconds, saving you and your administrative team a ton of time manually creating timesheets.
You can view each timesheet to catch and correct errors like forgotten clock-outs or incorrect start times. You can also allow employees to make changes to their timesheets, and Connecteam will alert you when you have a timesheet to review. This ensures all timesheets are error-free before payroll processing.
Create schedules in minutes
Not only is Connecteam a powerful solution for employee time tracking, but it’s also perfect for employee scheduling.
You can quickly create schedules using the drag-and-drop interface or built-in templates. You can add job roles, checklists, notes, job sites, and more information to each shift—and even color-code them for easy reference. Set schedules to recur daily, weekly, or monthly or import any of your existing schedules.
With the scheduler, employees are able to add their availability, note their shift preferences, request time off, and easily see where they’ll be for each shift and what they need to do.
The scheduler also syncs with Connecteam’s time clock so you can cross-reference employees’ time entries with their schedule to ensure their logs are accurate.
Smart notifications and alerts for better oversight
Connecteam will automatically notify you when an employee approaches unscheduled overtime, misses work, or is late for a shift. This helps reduce unnecessary labor costs and gives you more oversight into attendance issues like tardiness and absenteeism.
For your employees, Connecteam’s smart notifications and alerts remind them to clock in and out, let them know when they have a new schedule to view, and notify them when there’s been an update to any of their shifts.
Keep employees up to date with built-in communication tools
Making announcements or staying in touch with your employees can be difficult when working at different times or on different job sites. Luckily, Connecteam has features to streamline communication across your entire workforce.
First, there’s the in-app team chat. You can chat with workers individually or in group chats, and employees can send messages to their coworkers at any time. Messages can include photos, videos, file attachments, audio notes, GIFs, and emojis. Plus, you and your team will always be notified when there’s a new message to view.
Then, there’s the updates feed. Use this for company- or team-wide announcements to keep everyone informed. With this feature, you can schedule posts to go live at a particular time and even check who has viewed and interacted with your updates.
And much more
Connecteam does much more than track workers’ time and allow you to schedule your team. It’s a comprehensive work management solution with many tools to help you manage your workforce easily and efficiently.
Accurate attendance tracking and reporting
Built-in employee scheduling ability
Geofencing and GPS location tracking tools
One-touch clocking in and out
Real-time data syncing
Custom alerts and notifications
Employees can use their own devices to clock in and out from anywhere
Robust reporting capabilities
All-in-one digital solution
More integrations in development
Free-for-life plan availablePremium plans start at $29/month for 30 users
14-day free trial, no credit card requiredStart your free trial
ExakTime JobClock Hornet
ExakTime creates time clock software and specializes in the construction industry. The JobClock Hornet is its signature rugged clock. The bright yellow device can be placed at a job site, and employees use “keytabs” to clock in and out. The tabs are color-coded and can be assigned to different jobs or roles.
The clock syncs with the cloud once an hour. It will hold on to employees’ time data (up to 20,000 punches) until it can connect to the internet.
Unfortunately, employers must have a separate JobClock Hornet at each work location. On the plus side, however, time data can feed into the same admin account for ExakTime’s Connect software. The software offers attendance tracking management and creates timesheets that can integrate with payroll software.Learn more about ExakTime JobClock Hornet
- Can operate without internet connectivity
- Multiple job codes can be used
- Connects with management software
- Mountable onsite and lockable for security
- Battery lasts up to 21 days and can connect to a car charger
- Weatherproof in temperatures from -10 to 170 degrees F
- Uses tabs that employees must keep track of
- Clock must be physically at the jobsite
Contact vendor for price Trial: No Free Plan: No
The TimePilot Tap is the smallest portable clock on our list, fitting in a toolbox or even a pocket, and has a 1-year battery life.
Employees clock in and out using their assigned “iButtons.” The clock measures clock in and out times and can record time data for up to 2,000 employees. If an employer needs to track employee time in multiple locations simultaneously, they’ll need multiple clocks.
Users can plug the clock into a PC using a provided USB cable to send time data to a database in TimePilot’s software. The database can also combine with data from employees who use the TimePilot mobile app or other TimePilot clocks.
There are 2 software plans to choose from: Cloud or Locally Based. With either plan, users can manage and report on time and attendance. The Cloud Based option stores data in the cloud managed by TimePilot. With the Locally Based option, managers are responsible for saving the data to their computer. The software requires a Windows 10 or later operating system.Learn more about TimePilot Tap
- On-premise plan available
- Simple clock in and out buttons
- Works with mobile clock and desktop clocking options
- Can hold up to 12,000 punches
- Small size
- Battery lasts up to a year
- Employees must have individual licenses
- Clock must be connected to a PC to sync data
$189 for the device, plus per-employee costs for iButtons and monthly cloud licenses Trial: No Free Plan: No
For businesses used to paper time cards, the Pyramid 5000HD is a heavy-duty option that can withstand regular wear and tear. This electronic time clock has a few customization options—like setting the language to French or Spanish and rounding time entries by 5, 10, or 15 minutes.
The clock also gives elapsed time and totals time for the employee at the end of the designated pay period. Each clock can be used for 100 employees. Replacement cards, ribbons and accessories must be purchased through Pyramid.Learn more about Pyramid 5000HD
- Made out of industrial-grade steel for durability
- Customization options
- Auto-feed time card alignment
- Calculates worked time for each pay period
- Doesn’t require internet
- Paper time cards include more information than just time and date
- Extra cost for additional materials
- Maxes out at 100 employees per clock
$707 per device, plus the cost of print ribbons and cards Trial: No Free Plan: No
Compare the Best Portable Time Clock for Construction Crewss
|Topic||Start for free||ExakTime JobClock Hornet||TimePilot Tap||Pyramid 5000HD|
Starts at just $29/month for the first 30 users
Contact vendor for price
$189 for the device, plus per-employee costs for iButtons and monthly cloud licenses
$707 per device, plus the cost of print ribbons and cards
Free Up to 10 users
What Are Portable Time Clocks?
Portable time clocks are physical or digital tools that allow employees to easily clock in and out on job sites, tracking and recording their hours. The 2 main types of portable time clocks are rugged clocks and digital clocks.
A rugged clock is a device built to withstand harsh environments. Employees typically use a tag or ID to clock in and out. This clock may have a way of translating the data into a digital format. Or, it could rely on paper punch cards.
While rugged clocks can be useful for some businesses, they can be limited by caps on how much data they can record. Additionally, without cloud-based software, rugged clocks don’t improve over time. Thus, it can be difficult to troubleshoot or fix an issue if it arises.
A digital time clock is an app or cloud-based software that allows employees to clock in and out on an internet-connected device like their smartphones or a shared kiosk device like a tablet. The data recorded is stored entirely online.
Digital time clocks usually have features beyond time tracking, such as scheduling, geofencing, and communication tools. These clocks can be easily updated, and the platforms that offer them typically have comprehensive customer support.
How Do Portable Time Clocks Work?
Portable time clocks work by tracking and recording time for employees who work at job sites that are usually outdoors and may change frequently. They’re very common in the construction industry, where crews of workers may be on different projects every day.
As a manager, you can use portable time clocks to track your employees’ time accurately while in the field. Rugged options can stay at a single site and record data even without an internet connection. With a digital clock, you can easily see employees’ clock-in and out times from any device, correct time entries as needed, and generate automated timesheets.
On the employee side, portable time clocks enable them to clock in and out quickly on location and trust their hours are recorded accurately.
With rugged clocks, employees use a keytab or ID card to scan in and out. Meanwhile, a digital clock allows them to use their mobile devices as a clock for one-click punches. Digital options also offer them an easy way to see their schedule, request time off, communicate with you and their coworkers, and more.
The Benefits of Portable Employee Time Clocks for Construction Crews
Mobility and flexibility
Both digital and rugged portable clocks enable accurate time tracking at any time, in any environment. For construction crews that move from job site to job site, having a clock that can move with them makes sense.
Accuracy and compliance
Having exact time records, rather than a general idea of when everyone arrived and left work, ensures that employees are paid correctly. It also helps with job costing and project planning. Plus, precise and accurate time data records help your business stay compliant, and some time clocks can produce these reports automatically.
Accountability and efficiency
With a rugged clock on-site at every site or a digital time clock on every worker’s mobile device, all employees know what to expect regarding time tracking. For employees who are used to reporting time after the fact or relying on a manager to track them, a rugged or digital time clock can change their habits and encourage them to take responsibility for their time.
These clocks also make teams more efficient. They encourage punctuality and prevent managers and workers from needing to manually enter and review time data.
How Much Do Portable Employee Time Clocks Cost?
Portable rugged time clock systems can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars in device costs, plus cloud or software fees or licenses. They’re usually built to withstand extreme weather, and their cost reflects that.
Costs can rise if you have multiple job sites, as you’ll need multiple rugged clocks. Depending on the clock type, you may also need to purchase refill cards, ribbons, or battery backups. Additionally, you might need to pay for clock-in tags or tokens for every employee.
Some rugged time clocks also have external software, which comes at an additional monthly cost.
Digital clocks are typically priced per user, per month, and sometimes have an initial set-up cost too. There are some options with a monthly cloud subscription as well. This may be based on the number of employees you have or a set number of licenses that comes with the clock.
With Connecteam, you don’t need to sacrifice quality for affordability. You can access the built-in digital time clock—and many other work management features—through our free-forever Small Business Plan for up to 10 users or one of our paid plans, starting at just $29 per month for up to 30 users.
How do you keep track of construction employee hours?
Construction employees move from site to site, so you’ll need a portable time clock so they can punch in and out of onsite and track their hours accurately. The clock could be a rugged physical clock or a digital clock app they can use on a mobile device.
What is the best way to track hours worked?
The best way to track hours worked is by using a time tracking app like Connecteam. Employees can clock in and out on their personal mobile devices or a shared device using the kiosk functionality. As a manager, you can create and publish schedules, generate timesheets, and more with Connecteam.
What is the simplest time clock?
While a paper punch card seems the simplest option, digital clock software like Connecteam is generally easier and more intuitive for workers today. This is because they’re used to mobile apps and digital interfaces in all other parts of life. Plus, digital options often enable workers to clock in and out with a single touch of their devices.
The Bottom Line on Portable Time Clocks for Construction
Portable time clocks are necessary to ensure accurate data on every job site, in all weather, and for every construction worker on your crew. You can opt for either a rugged clock, which is a physical device you can carry across job sites, or digital software that turns your workers’ devices into a time clock.
Connecteam is the best portable time clock for your construction team. It enables one-touch clock-in and out, is accurate down to the second, and offers GPS location tracking and geofencing for unlimited job sites. Connecteam also has scheduling features that work seamlessly with the time clock—plus many more employee management tools.