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The Evolution of Timekeeping In The Workplace

24th Feb 2019
Investor Polar Hills, Inc.
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Before the 1800s, most of the modern world was run by family-based farms and factories producing goods and services in small quantities. Most of these businesses required a tremendous amount of labor to produce small quantities of their products. However, by the 1800s, most of today’s modern world was going through something called the Industrial Revolution. New technological advances ushered in sweeping changes for both manufacturing and transportation. With the help of machine-based manufacturing, families started to move away from their rural homes to the cities to find work in the newly industrialized factories. The factory work was often long hours, highly unhealthy, extremely dangerous and mostly underpaid jobs. Governments eventually had to step in to regulate these factory work conditions and especially the factory employee work hours. The world was in need of a way to efficiently keep track of time and attendances of factory workers and thus the time-clocks, time-cards, and timesheets were born.

When the mechanical time-clock was invented in the late 1800s, its purpose was to record the time when a factory worker entered or left the factory. This time-clock would stamp the exact time and day on a paper card, which is why it was also known as the time-card. These time-cards ensured that the factory workers worked the number of hours they claimed and also protected them from being cheated with lesser pay by the factory owners. These time-clocks have changed in many ways today with electrical time-clocks, fingerprint-based time-clocks, and web-based or mobile-based time-clocks. Yet, these time-clocks feel almost exactly the same as it did 100 years ago.

Old Man Holding A Timeclock

Even though the industrial revolution ended many years ago, time-clocks have remained very much the same in most ways. Our workplaces have become extremely modernized and the line between blue collared jobs and white collared jobs are fading. Whether companies are tracking work hours for salaried employees or hourly employees, the way we track hours is largely similar to our olden ways. However, most modern managers don’t watch over their employees like the olden ways because of societal or cultural norms. This leads to various problems related to inaccurate time tracking at the workplaces and thereby American employers are collectively losing over $7.4 billion a day towards employee time and task management issues.

For example:

  1. Some companies use timesheets at the workplace whereby employees are required to keep track of work hours for each workday. However, most employees end up falsifying their daily work hours or simply record inaccurate hours at the end of weekly timesheets. This phenomenon is commonly known as timesheet fraud.
  2. Some companies use time time-clocks or time-cards at the workplace whereby employees punch in or out whenever they enter or exit their workplaces. However, most employees end up cheating the system by asking a coworker to punch in or out on their behalf. This phenomenon is commonly known as buddy punching.
  3. Some companies don’t track work hours for their employees. However, most employees are naturally not going to work their required hours if there is no one or no technology records to keep track of them.

As our world is advancing quickly and many jobs are shifting to an on-demand model, time tracking is becoming more efficient for on-demand gig workers. Ridesharing companies like Uber can automatically calculate how long a driver works via their mobile applications and pay accordingly. Restaurant delivery companies like DoorDash can automatically calculate how many deliveries a driver makes and pay accordingly. Freelance jobs marketplace companies like Upwork can automatically calculate how long a freelancer works and help pay them accordingly. Non-on-demand employees use B2B companies like Yazira to automatically calculate how long they work based on when they entered or exited their workplaces. All of these companies use existing technologies in smartphones that are related to GPS or WiFi or Wireless Data systems and make them useful in an intelligent manner. These technology companies are collectively helping American employers fix the $7.4 billion a day problem related to employee time and task management issues by automating timekeeping in the workplace.

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By AndrewN
24th Feb 2019 10:25

Amazing Article. It's astonishing how time tracking has evolved throughout the years from using a mechanical time-clock to using an advanced application on your mobile phone. Measuring performance is equally important as time tracking and that what was missing in the past. Now performance can be easily measured, evaluated and rewarded without breaking a sweat by just using your phone.

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By Sajil1
24th Feb 2019 10:35

Well written article! An automated solution to time keeping is truly applicable in today's age and even necessary, as the move to temporary assignments and shift working is becoming increasingly common. The need to reduce effort in time tracking and focus on more critical tasks is crucial, and a reliable, fully automated solution to manage falsification of time would serve the HR world a lot better!

As the writer noted, GPS driven time tracking is the way forward and is already a tried and tested tool in certain spheres. This approach has the potential to become widely accepted across industries and businesses of all sizes, allowing organizations to save millions!

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