As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention! The necessity created during the COVID pandemic undoubtedly compelled the adoption of technology by many organizations. With employees working from home, it became necessary to ensure they were productive and also keeping well. Wide-ranging technological solutions were deployed – from audio/video conferencing to collaboration tools.
In this context, HR departments too had to look for solutions to ensure employees could sign in and sign out without having to punch in/out physically at company premises by using some biometric device like a fingerprint scanner and, in some cases, swiping access cards. The ideal solution could help not only in marking attendance but also in keeping a watchful eye on employee safety. The answer came in the form of Geo-fencing.
Geo-fencing is a virtual boundary created around a particular location which can be defined using longitude, latitude, and radius. It can be created or accessed through software or apps that use GPS(Global Positioning System), RFID(Radio-Frequency Identification), Wi-Fi, or cellular data.
There are many scenarios where the employee is expected to be at a specific location to perform the assigned job. For example, think of a sales executive who is scheduled to go to a particular area to cover and make sales for the day. Instead of first going to the office just to mark attendance, what if the employees could directly go for the scheduled visits and their attendance is automatically marked. Wouldn’t that save a lot of time and effort for the employee? Would the employee not have a better work experience? This is now possible with a location-based attendance management system that integrates seamlessly with the rest of your HR suite of applications.
Under this system, the employee’s supervisor/manager can create the geo-fence after discussing it with the employee while assigning the work. As soon as the employee enters physically into the geo-fenced area, they can make the punch and mark the attendance. Once the employee steps out of the area, they will no longer be able to mark the punch. This way, both the attendance and time spent on the job can be recorded. It is also possible to create multiple disjointed geo-fenced areas as per the requirement.
Similar methods can be used for employees working from home or in a designated office building. It is possible to create a geo-fence for the entire month as per the employee’s schedule and planned locations.
As technology penetration has improved due to easy accessibility, most people now carry smart mobile phones with GPS chips and internet facilities. Many implementations of location-based automatic attendance systems rely on the GPS functionality in mobile phones to report the location of the employee to the central system.
Satellite-based global positioning system has been in use for many decades and is proven to be accurate. Military and defense technology too use GPS-aided navigation for guided missiles etc. When the same technology is used for location tracking, you can expect it to be very accurate.
Location-based attendance tracking is a completely transparent process between employees and the organization. There is a prior understanding between both parties on how this will be done and what will be the responsibility of each party in ensuring that the technology is used for the intended purposes only. The organization has the responsibility to protect employee location data as per the agreed terms. Similarly, the employee agrees to keep the device active as per the agreed guidelines.
One of the additional benefits of this system is that employees can be assured that they are safe in the knowledge that someone will be alerted by the system if any unusual location pattern is detected. The unusual pattern could be a digression from the planned location/area for work, It could also be an unplanned absence. The employee’s manager can call up and check on employee safety immediately and provide necessary assistance as the situation demands.
An obvious and direct benefit is time saved due to automation which can be deployed into more productive work.
Additionally, since accurate attendance is recorded for everyone, the quality of data used for calculating effort spent on various projects is very high, resulting in realistic productivity metrics. The resulting analysis presented via dashboards helps leadership teams understand where to focus their efforts to improve productivity.
This is a compelling technology solution that can benefit organizations of all sizes. Before embarking on the journey and adopting this technology, it is imperative that the HR department engage with all stakeholders and work with them to create a transition plan. Here are a few things that need to be considered:
Any change should be managed well. Here are some practical tips on how to go about managing change in any organization.
Technological advances are positively impacting many individuals and organizations. As observed in the recent past, organizations are quick to adapt to changes and adopt technologies that are beneficial. Location-based attendance automation has greatly benefited organizations and individuals alike. This technology is here to stay even when the majority of the employees are now returning to office premises, as the pandemic is beginning to be fully contained.