Tracking Remote Employee Attendance: A Step-by-Step Guide

There’s little doubt that businesses should and do check their employees’ attendance. Managers and business owners, after all, have a right to know when someone on their payroll arrives and departs. Nowadays, it’s simply a question of how companies track attendance.

With the constant advancements in devices and system development, there has never been a wider range of solutions for keeping track of employee hours. The option appears tough to make, from attendance sheets to various sorts of workforce management methods used for attendance monitoring, such as key-cards, to business time tracking software.

We’ve put up a complete tutorial about how to keep count of staff hours in order to address this issue. We’ll go over the necessity of tracking employee attendance, the factors to consider when making a decision, and a full discussion of the most prevalent techniques of tracking employee attendance.

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Why is it necessary to keep track of attendance?

Besides the obvious necessity to know when your staff come and depart so you know where your cash is spent, there are a number of additional compelling reasons why proper attendance monitoring is critical.

Regulations on Working Hours

First and foremost, it may not be a decision at all. To put it another way, you may be required by law to keep accurate records of your workers’ working hours. The current EU Work Time Directive, for example, regulates this in the European Union. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates employee attendance tracking. These rules are in place to guarantee that employees are treated fairly, including receiving fair remuneration and avoiding abuse in terms of working conditions and unpaid overtime. Even without the regulations, there are compelling reasons to keep track of attendance.

Monetary considerations

Another reason why precisely monitoring workers’ working hours is critical to a company is the financial loss that occurs when there is a discrepancy between the hours recorded and the hours spent in the office functioning. The practice of ‘buddy punching,’ in which an employee checks in for an absent or late colleague, may cost businesses a lot of money.

According to one research, 16 percent of employees engage in this type of attendance theft, amounting to $373 million in lost revenue for businesses if hourly employees steal just 15 minutes every week. As a result, it’s critical that your attendance monitoring system is not just precise, but also failsafe.

Typical Methods for Tracking Employee Attendance

In this part, we’ll look at a few various methods that businesses may use to track and quantify the amount of time their workers spend at work. The six most prevalent techniques will be discussed: manual, timesheets, keycards, biometric data, GPS, and time monitoring software.

  1. Manual- It may not be required to track office hours using a technology solution for small startups and businesses with less than 10 employees. Simply watching when people arrive at work and noting if someone is late might be enough to keep the organization running smoothly. This, however, only works for extremely small teams that spend most of their time in the office. With a few additional personnel and maybe some remote workers, things become too hard to track manually, necessitating the use of a more automated system.
  • Timesheets- They are another option that is usually free. They are tables with worker names that are filled in by either the employees or their supervisors, as well as data on when each employee arrived at work and when they left. Tracking attendance with Excel, Google Sheets, or any comparable platform is perhaps the most popular version. This is an inexpensive option that most employees would readily accept. A finished monthly timesheet is also a ready-made report in and of itself. Timesheets are typically trustworthy when done by a supervisor, but with a greater number of employees, they can soon become time-consuming.

Alternatively, staff can fill out an attendance monitoring document. However, inaccuracies are more likely to occur in this situation, particularly if employees neglect to submit their attendance sheet on time. Furthermore, they have the ability to’steal’ time on purpose, so it is far from a foolproof solution.

  • Key-card: The usage of keycards is a very widespread method of attendance monitoring, particularly in medium and large enterprises. Employees just enter the firm with their card and exit with their card, and the system stores all of the information in a database. There are many distinct types of keycards, but we’ll address them all here because they largely differ in terms of the technology utilized. So, let’s have a look at things that are possible. The old-fashioned method of punching a time and date on employees’ cards is known as punch cards. Swipe cards, also known as magnetic stripe cards, are a newer technology that is flicked through a machine (like credit cards). QR codes may also be used by Kaycards to identify employees. Finally, there is contactless technology, such as proximity cards and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which differs just slightly. Keycards have a number of advantages, including the fact that they are not bothersome to employees and that they are unlikely to forget to swipe in. They can also be used as card access or facility keys, which adds an extra layer of protection. Finally, their operation is simple and intuitive. Employees don’t have to take the cards out of their purses or pockets when employing RFID.

However, keycards are vulnerable to abuse and ‘buddy punching,’ and employees may forget to carry them with them. Furthermore, they only track the time when personnel enter the premises, not when they begin working (read: morning coffee and chat with colleagues). Furthermore, if you run a firm with many locations and don’t plan for remote staff, it may soon become a pricey option.

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hrmsads2 Tracking Remote Employee Attendance: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • Biometric data: Biometric readers, such as fingerprint and iris scanners, as well as face recognition technologies, are the most technologically advanced attendance tracking options. When employees come to work and leave, these generally more sensitive inherent biometric data that is unique to each individual and use it as a sort of ‘keycard.’ This is perhaps the most secure and buddy-punch-proof attendance monitoring option because workers can’t provide this data to another individual. With recent improvements in mobile technology such as elevated cameras and fingerprint identification, it may even be used by distant workers. It also avoids the danger that employees may forget their ‘access card.’
  • GPS: GPS tracking is occasionally used as an attendance monitoring tool, albeit it is not as widespread as timesheets or keycards. It’s especially beneficial for tracking the locations of field or distant employees. Delivery employees, door-to-door sellers, and others are examples. Regardless of how useful GPS is for field workers, there is one fundamental concern: privacy. Employees’ corporate phones’ GPS should be monitored for maximum privacy protection. This works well for field workers, but not so well for office workers who may be inclined to take their work phones at home, rendering GPS useless for attendance tracking.
  • Time tracking software: Finally, using a used one for work is becoming a more common way to keep track of your working hours. Employee time monitoring and planning software works by keeping track of time and activity on every business computer from the minute it is turned on until an employee leaves the workplace. In comparison to alternative methods of collecting staff attendance, time attendance monitoring software like Insightful has a number of advantages. Even while it isn’t always free, it is less expensive than biometric data readers or even keycards. Furthermore, because everything is saved on the cloud, there is no need for hardware upkeep. Because staff time monitoring software tracks computer activity (apps and websites utilized, as well as time spent on projects), there’s no risk of ‘buddy punching’ or time theft unless their coworkers can operate on two computers at the same time.

Apart from improving attendance monitoring, using attendance tracking systems may help with a variety of other things. A time tracker, for example, can aid in time management, productivity, and task delegation. It’s also a vital bit of technology for your remote workers.

Things to ponder about before making a choice

The nature and size of each organization will influence the form of attendance tracking that is used. When deciding how to measure employee hours, you should consider how your firm is conducted, your budget, and how many people you employ.

Small firms with fewer than ten workers often do not require complicated and expensive solutions, but enterprises with 1,000 or more employees must have an automated solution. Manual attendance monitoring is time-consuming and prone to mistakes, so everything in between requires a technology solution.

The amount you have aside for attendance tracking will also play a role in your decision. There are a variety of choices available, ranging from free timesheets to highly expensive biometric data recognition systems. As mentioned in the preceding section, the necessity for reliable attendance monitoring is rather consistent regardless of the industry in which a company operates. However, if your firm works with customers and charges them by the hour (as is becoming more prevalent with the increase of outsourcing), you should consider this and choose the most accurate and readily shareable attendance statistics you can provide to them. Keeping these elements in view as we look at different forms of attendance monitoring will help you to evaluate them critically based on your needs and skills.

How Do I Make a Decision and What Should I Do Next?

Although not recording attendance at all has worked for a few businesses in the past, the value of doing so is widely acknowledged. To take the right path, you must first comprehend the many alternatives and technologies available to you, as well as consider your company’s structure and the challenges you’re seeking to solve.

  • Cost: On a scale of least to most costly, manual and timesheets, GPS (assuming you don’t have to purchase corporate phones for this reason solely), time tracking systems, keycards, and biometric data technologies are the most common.
  • Accuracy: The more automated, the better, therefore biometric data scanners, keycards, and worker time recording software are the best options.
  • Reports: Time tracking software is the greatest solution to answer your clients’ requests for specific work time on their projects.
  • Reliability: Attendance data must be totally trustworthy in order to avoid significant financial losses. Only biometric data or a work time tracker can do this.
  • Access: Key cards and biometric data are your only alternatives if you want your attendance monitoring system to also serve as an access key to corporate premises.
  • Employee attitudes: If you’re concerned that your employees may be offended by the approach you’ve selected, time and activity trackers and biometric data handling are the most intrusive and should be applied with caution.
  • Automation: If you want your staff to put in the least amount of effort possible, use employees’ time and attendance monitoring software that’s running with them having to do anything.

Finally, it’s crucial to remember that in fact for attendance monitoring to have any real impact, you must do more than simply record it. You must also control employee attendance by developing and adjusting working hours regulations based on the information you obtain by carefully monitoring the impact of irregular attendance on your company’s performance and budget.


Hopefully, this article has given you a good sense of how vital attendance monitoring is nowadays and how you may go about doing it. Your company’s final decision on whether to employ basic timesheets, staff time tracking software, or something else is up to you. But one thing is certain: selecting a solution that will provide you with precise and dependable results will not only guarantee that you comply with rules but will also save you money and provide you with insight into just how your office time is spent.

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