Everything you need to know about geofencing time clocks

Can your on-the-go employees access your time clock app from their mobile devices?

If the answer is yes, there could be quite a bit of time theft occurring right under your nose.

For instance, what stops employees from clocking in before they reach the job site? Without a way to closely monitor time punches, you’d have no way of knowing they’re actually at the Burger King down the street.

That’s why geofencing time clocks have become popular in recent years.

What are those?

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Geofencing works by designating a virtual boundary around a physical location. Employers can create a geofenced area around their work environment and job sites with a GPS time tracking app.

That means your employees won’t be able to clock in and out unless they’re within that physical boundary.

As a result, employees cannot clock in if they aren’t at work. Since the app tracks each employee’s location, it also eliminates buddy punching (where co-workers clock each other in).

If their mobile device containing the geofencing app isn’t present at the job site, no co-worker can clock them in.

For these reasons, some managers are hailing geofence time clock apps as a gift from the HR gods.

Yet, geofencing time-tracking apps aren’t without their fair share of concerns and controversies, so stay tuned to learn if implementing one is the right move for your organization.

How Do Geofencing Time Clocks Work?

Using geofencing in time tracking is a relatively new concept, as it used to be exclusive to GPS apps.

Geofencing refers to creating a predefined virtual boundary that’s made using GPS, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), Wi-fi, or cellular data signals.

It creates an invisible fence of sorts, and it’s the same technology used to place citizens under house arrest.

When used for employee tracking, geofencing creates a boundary around your worksite. It could be an office, medical facility, or even multiple job sites in different locations.

All your employees must download the corresponding geofence time tracking mobile app on their smartphones. Whenever they arrive at the workplace, they’ll receive a notification from the app that they can now clock in.

On their way out, the app will deliver a second notification reminding them to clock out.

If an employee attempts to clock in on the app when they’re not at the job site, it won’t work. That’s because they’ll have to enable location tracking on their phone to download the app, so you’ll always know where your employees are during work hours.

Understandably, this raises some privacy concerns, as most employees aren’t fans of their employers knowing where they are at all times.

At the same time, geofencing technology renders most forms of time theft useless, which is a huge advantage.

To put things in perspective, employers lose an average of 4.5 hours per week due to time theft. Also, 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching, which is the most common way for employees to steal time.

Which Organizations Benefit the Most from Geofencing?

Geofencing time clock software works better for some organizations over others, such as businesses with employees who work at several job sites.

If your company has a single location and uses biometric time punch machines covered by security cameras, you won’t have much to worry about.

A biometric time clock requires employees to clock in with their fingerprints or through facial recognition, which eliminates the possibility of buddy punching. The security cameras also ensure that employees can’t clock in unless they’re physically at work.

However, this scenario isn’t always a possibility for some organizations.

For example, construction companies often deal with multiple work sites at a time, which can become too much to keep track of manually. It also opens the doors for abuse, as it’s easy for construction employees to act like they’re at a work location when they’re actually somewhere else.

Geofencing time tracking is also beneficial for teams with remote employees, as you’ll know where your remote team members are at all times (such as if they’re actually in front of their workstation or not).

The same is true for companies with any type of mobile employees (sales, field service, etc.), as the tracking system will let you know what your team is up to during the day.

Large facilities like hospitals and warehouses may also benefit from geofence time tracking due to the vastness of these work areas. Attendance tracking becomes incredibly difficult without a way to track employees’ locations in relation to their work areas.

What are the Pros and Cons of Geofencing Time Trackers?

Now it’s time to take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a geofencing time clock at your organization.

While there are undeniable benefits, like the reduction of time theft, there are also potential downsides.

In particular, geofencing your work area raises many privacy concerns, and it may also place sensitive employee data at risk from hackers.

Here are the top pros and cons of geofencing time-tracking software.

The Pros

First, let’s take a look at all the ways your organization will benefit by implementing a geofencing time clock app.

Cracking Down on Time Theft

Time theft is one of those sneaky issues that doesn’t seem like a big deal until you actually sit down and do the math.

A common way that employees steal time is to clock in before they arrive and clock out after they’ve already left.

Employees with access to their time clock software on their mobile devices can clock in to work whenever and wherever they want. If your managers aren’t actively tracking their timesheets, there’s plenty of opportunity for time theft to take place.

Even without mobile time tracking software, your employees can still utilize buddy punching, where a co-worker clocks them in and out.

Let’s say that one of your employees has a habit of getting a friend to clock them in 15 minutes early, and then they get another friend to clock them out 15 minutes after they’ve left.

If they receive an hourly rate of $20 per hour, they’re stealing $9.90 worth of time every single day.

That doesn’t seem like much at first until you start doing the math.

In other words, the employee steals $49.50 per week, 99$ each pay period, $198 per month, and $2,376 per year – and that’s all from one employee.

That’s why cutting down on time theft should be a priority for all organizations, and implementing geofencing time clocks is one of the best ways to do so.

In the example given above, the employee wouldn’t be able to replicate their time theft routine if the organization used geofence time tracking software.

They Streamline Time Tracking

Keeping track of employee time cards is no easy task for any manager. Missed punches happen all the time, and they cause all sorts of problems with timekeeping and payroll processing.

Whenever employees do miss a punch, there’s always the opportunity for time theft (both intentional and unintentional) to take place.

For instance, say one of your employees forgets to clock out due to how busy they were during the day. You notice this when reviewing your employee hours for the week, and you check in with them to find out when they left.

In this scenario, your employee actually left work at 2:45 (15 minutes early), but they decide to lie (or misremember) and say they left at 3:15, in turn stealing 30 minutes of wages.

This type of situation won’t happen with a geofencing time clock.

How is that?

It’s because the time clock app will automatically notify employees whenever they enter the workplace, providing a helpful reminder to clock in. The same thing happens whenever they leave the job site, which will reduce the odds of missed punches by a significant margin.

While this is certainly handy, it’s not foolproof.

The real kicker comes whenever an employee forgets to clock in or out. Instead of relying on the employee’s word when they arrived or left, the geofencing time clock app will let you know the precise times when the employee entered and exited the virtual boundary around your workplace.

They Increase Payroll Efficiency

Speaking of missed punches, they’re also a huge headache for your accounting department. If your timesheets are filled with missed time punches, your payroll processing will have to wait until you get them sorted out (which means no one can get paid).

That’s not to mention all the time it takes to enter payroll data from timesheets manually.

Geofencing time clock software expedites the payroll process in a big way since it practically eliminates missed punches.

Moreover, most geofencing time apps will integrate with your payroll system (like Quickbooks), meaning you can automatically upload timesheets – which will save your accounting department lots of time.

Since you can automate timesheet entry, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of human error, making your payroll process even more efficient.

Many geofencing time clock apps will help keep track of your payroll expenses, which makes it easier to avoid unnecessary overtime.

They Get Rid of Cumbersome Paperwork

Small businesses that are still doing manual payroll deal with mountains of paperwork, including employee schedules, time cards, odometer readings, and more.

Geofencing time apps largely eliminate this type of paperwork, which is always a plus.

After all, who’s a fan of desk clutter?

With a geofencing time clock app that automatically tracks employee attendance, you won’t need any paperwork related to time tracking.

As a bonus, some geofencing apps ensure you won’t have to rely on manual odometer readings from employees who require travel reimbursement. Since the app will track their location, it’ll automatically report the number of miles they traveled during the work day.

The Cons

Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin. Here are the primary downsides involved with time clock apps that use GPS location data.

Privacy Concerns

Since geofencing features location tracking through user’s mobile devices, privacy concerns are bound to arise.

That’s because the thought of being tracked during the day will inevitably make some of your employees uncomfortable.

As a result, gaining buy-in from your staff when considering geofencing time clocks can be very difficult. Don’t be surprised if you receive quite a bit of pushback after announcing your plans to your team members.

Organizational change can only work when you obtain buy-in from everyone involved, so you’ll need to state a convincing case why a geofencing time clock app will benefit your employees.

Remind them that they’ll be able to clock in and out from their phone and that they’ll never have to remember a missed punch if they forget.

Regardless, it’s still a difficult sell, and some organizations may wind up abandoning geofence time clocks due to the pressure.

Labor Law Violations and Data Breaches

Also, you don’t want to break any labor laws with your GPS-powered time-tracking software. Otherwise, you could face a hefty fine or penalty.

Consult your local state and city laws to see if you need consent from your employees to track their locations. Beyond that, you also need to set some ground rules for the location-tracking aspect of the software.

For instance, will the app continue to track employee locations after work hours? If so, this could be a serious violation of privacy and enable things like stalking and harassment should an employee’s location history become compromised by a hacker.

Cybersecurity is another concern regarding this type of technology.

A single data breach could mean leaked location histories for your employees, which has all sorts of nefarious implications.

Whenever you compare geofencing time clock apps, choose one that features airtight cybersecurity.

Training is Required

Lastly, your employees won’t automatically know how to use your selected geofencing time app, so you’ll need to invest in training.

This can be a downside for small businesses lacking the budget to pay for third-party training programs.

Yet, without proper training, mistakes are bound to happen, and your employees will likely misuse your new technology, which isn’t what you want.

Before investing in a geofencing time clock app, you need to do your research and ensure that:

  • The app works on both Android and IOS devices

  • It boasts integrations with popular tools that you regularly use (like payroll systems)

  • There’s a free 14-day trial so you can get a feel for how the program works

  • The user interface is intuitive and easy to pick up and start using

As long as the app checks all these boxes, it shouldn’t be too hard to implement with minimal training.

The Best Geofence Time Clock Apps

Now that you know more about how geofencing time clock software works, let’s look at some of the highest-rated geofencing apps available right now.


Hubstaff is a popular productivity app for individuals and small teams, but it also features geofence time tracking.

The platform is readily available on both desktop and mobile, and it works on Android, IOS, Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Notable features include:

  • Accurate time tracking in real-time

  • Employee scheduling and attendance tracker

  • Geofencing

  • Setting up different pay rates

Hubstaff is a favorite amongst small businesses due to its outstanding features and reasonable pricing.

Buddy Punch

Buddy Punch is exclusively a geofencing time clock app boasting some truly handy features.

For example, you can process and even run your payroll entirely from inside Buddy Punch. When processing payroll, you can add different pay rates, incorporate time off, and factor in things like bonuses.

To run payroll, you can deliver employee payments via direct deposit, complete with a self-service portal employees can use to add their bank information and manage their federal and state tax withholdings.

The geofencing aspect is extremely user-friendly and easy to set up. Once you’ve defined the virtual boundary, your employees will receive error notifications if they try to clock in or out when they’re not physically present.


Timeero offers excellent workforce management features that take advantage of its geofencing capabilities.

For instance, its ‘Who’s Working’ tab lets you know where your team members are during the day. If an employee has an emergency or can’t make their shift, you’ll know which team member is closest to their work site, making setting up a replacement a breeze.

Timeero also features popular integrations like Quickbooks, Gusto, and ADP for streamlined payroll processing.

Final Thoughts: Geofencing Time Clocks

Time theft due to buddy punching is a serious issue that affects all industries, which is why geofencing time clocks come in handy.

Besides cutting back on missed punches and stealing time, geofencing time apps also streamline payroll, improve workforce management, and eliminate cumbersome paperwork.

That’s not to say that geofencing isn’t without its controversies.

There are very real privacy and cybersecurity concerns involved with geofencing, so you’ll need to harp on the software’s benefits to obtain staff buy-in.