“Time is money” goes the saying. Yet, contrary to what many small business owners assume, the integration of a time clock solution in your business doesn’t have to be a complex and costly project. Affordability, ease of use, and implementation speed are just a few of the reasons why web-based and mobile time clock apps are the go-to solutions for small business today.
Who needs a time clock online?
In short? Everyone except Superman and Supergirl, as both can make the world spin backward and effectively stop time. From freelancers to contingents seasonal workers – pretty much anyone can benefit from improved time tracking capabilities. For managers, it’s not just about knowing who showed up for work and how long they were there. Many of the available solutions offer features like geo-tracking, employee scheduling, vacation and sick leave absence monitoring, and analysis of time spent performing specific tasks. For remote, mobile and deskless employee attendance management, online time clock solutions are especially useful and efficient. They’re within reach of the employee anywhere with an internet connection, and they give real-time information for managers to keep track of productivity levels in their dispersed workforce. Even if you manage a small team of 10 employees or less, implementing a time clock solution still makes sense. Even if it’s just to get rid of those annoying timesheets and excel spreadsheets. Working with pen and paper can create problems you’re not even aware of, plus it’s a tedious task to take on yourself. With an online solution, you are presented with invaluable data and insights into how work time is used by your employees, so you can make well-informed strategic HR decisions. Plus when it comes to the payroll, a time clock online will reduce processing costs by a whopping 80%. How is that possible? By automating the work, you are reducing errors caused by manual labor. Let’s remember that laws are constantly changing and are becoming complex, that’s how a time clock online makes sense. “Switching to an online method has taken away the chronic lateness of my employees and allowed me to build trust and accountability with them instead.” Katie Shernan, Port Plum The tricky part is choosing the most cost-effective and suitable solution for your business and employees. But that’s why we’re here.
1. The price of free
Since you’re looking for a free time clock solution, I am going to assume budgetary constraints are an issue. Many online time clock solutions offer free trial periods, but that’s all those are – trials. After a limited time, you’ll be asked to pay up, usually with a monthly subscription fee. Even though the website says “free”, it’s usually followed by the words “trial period” which means that their freedom is short lived. If you’re searching for an online time clock that is really free, look for one that offers the basic functionality you need, and demands a subscription only for advanced features and add-on capabilities.
2. Defining what you need an online time clock for
Before you look for solutions, define the problem to solve. Consider the characteristics and goals of your business. Also consider, how you can improve by integrating an online time clock, and what might be the obstacles to successful usage. For example, the manager of a plumbing business can enable location tracking on the time clock app on their workers phones. With better data on the exact time it takes different plumbers to fix specific problems at a client’s site, managers can optimize manpower efficiency and scheduling. Doctors and nurses can log the number of hours spent with each patient to ensure everyone gets the attention they need. Try answering the following questions before you start your search:
- Are you looking to just track the time employees are at work or do you also want to track time spent on each task?
- Do you need to know where your employees are doing their job, in addition to the when?
- Is network connectivity always available where they work? How will they log their time when offline?
- How many users will need to access the system?
- Do they have their own device (mobile or PC) that is compatible with the time clock solution you choose, or will you have to supply them with one?
- Do you need the time clock solution to integrate with other software or tools, like payroll management software?
Once you’ve answered the above questions, the process of choosing a time clock online suddenly becomes more focused and easier.
3. Understanding your employees
Keep in mind that you’re not the only user of your online time clock solution. Consider your employees abilities, needs and habits – for better or worse. Do they have the basic technical proficiency to use an online system to track their work hours? Will they be honest in their reporting? Will they remember to use the software?
If the answer to these questions is “No” that doesn’t mean you need to push on the brakes and go back to your excels. It just means some education will be needed for those who are worried about the technological change. And for others, an assertive nudge will usually remove any remaining obstacles.Nobody likes feeling watched and tracked but remind them that this is what it takes for your business to be productive and for them to be modern professionals.
Offending an employee is not as bad as having inefficient or dishonest workers in your team. If you suspect some of your employees might use a “buddy punching” scheme to steal work hours from you? You need to address the possibility when choosing your attendance tracking solution. Let’s address that “buddy punching” scheme for a quick minute. Employee fraud does happen (clocking in when they’re not really at work or asking a friend to clock in for them) but the use of a time clock online can help to reduce fraud. For instance, if the time clock online has GPS tracking, you know exactly where the employee was when they hit “clock in.” That way, your employees can no longer clock in if they’re grabbing a coffee but instead have to be at the office or work site.
4. Data Integrity & Security
Now this will come up. Imagine if you lost a week’s worth of time clock and timesheet info. That would honestly be a terrible week. Time clock data is precious, so you don’t want it tampered with, destroyed or lost. When selecting a time clock online, be sure to check what security and backup options are included. You might also want to export data for local backup, or check historic records in the system, so consider the fate of the information when choosing the service that stores it.
5. Ease-of-use & Implementation
There’s no such thing as free meals. Even free solutions require time. And time is money. Customization, training, maintenance and even the time employees spend clocking in and out – all of these require time. That costs money. So when choosing a time clock online solution for your business, consider these expenses. By implementing a time clock online that’s easy to use and has a user-friendly interface, your employees won’t roll their eyes at the new tracking system but instead, will embrace it.
A good time clock online keeps your data safe, is easy to implement, and offers many useful features. A great time clock also has a mobile app. Actually, this is a must in our mind. Modern workforces are increasingly flexible in time and location. So time management has to be able to move with them. An online time clock that doesn’t offer a mobile app is a no-go. If you want to offer your employees any kind of flexibility or you manage deskless and remote workers then a time clock mobile is a necessity.
7. Service & Support
The time clock online might be free of charge, but it isn’t always free of issues. Responsive support, quick service and frequent product updates are important to consider. You and your employees should be able to contact someone if any issues should arise so that you don’t lose any more time trying to figure out a solution yourself.
8. Create Your Own Branded Time Clock App
When you choose a time clock app, definitely consider all of the above but here’s an added consideration: branding. Remote and dispersed employees are frequently disengaged and out of touch with your company culture, and sometimes the only connection they have with the home office is through technology. You can leverage your time clock online app and instead get a fully branded mobile app for your employees that already includes not only a feature-rich time clock, but also to-do lists, event scheduling, training, and product management features. Creating your own branded employee can make a lot of sense and also provide some added value.
Connect your deskless workers with an employee app.
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