Published October 20, 2019 in Productivity

GPS Location Tracking: A guide to measuring productivity across job sites

Whether you are an Atto user, or someone interested in learning more about location tracking than this article is just the right thing for you.

GPS Location tracking also referred to as Geofencing is a feature - within the Atto app - that allows businesses to track the work of employees across multiple job sites. This feature is considered to be complementary to time tracking - which is why it is found in most mobile-adapted time trackers.

The types of businesses that benefit the most from GPS location tracking are those that rely on remote workers to deliver their goods and services. Among others, this includes the construction, landscaping, HVAC, plumbing, home repair, manufacturing, and healthcare industry. To help you broaden your understanding of location tracking as a concept, we will be looking into specific cases from the above industries.

Furthermore, we will be exploring the many sub-features that are integrated within a location tracking feature - such as the one found in Atto.

So, what exactly is location tracking and how will my business benefit from it?

GPS location monitoring for small businesses

Every small business is probably familiar with time tracking and its benefits to a business; However, not every business understands that there is more land beyond the horizon.

For decades, businesses have tried to find ways to make their workflow more efficient. Initially, it began with hand-written timesheets that gradually evolved into punch clocks. Nonetheless, both of the techniques required a lot of man-hours that cost businesses time and money. As technologies advanced, so did time tracking methodologies. Today, digital time trackers have automated all aspects of time tracking, and even added more functions to it - i.e. location tracking and timesheet reports. 

This article will guide you through the location tracking feature that is loved by many of our clients:

“I love the location service that it provides while my employees are clocked in. This is absolutely necessary as our employees drive to multiple job site locations .”

How exactly does location tracking work?

Location tracking capabilities are usually offered by developers that have adopted their software for mobile devices. Accordingly, they use the built-in GPS features on all of our mobile phones to pinpoint the exact location of the phone, or in this case employee.

Friendly Advice: When using location tracking, make sure to have employees keep their phones close to themselves, or at least inside of the job site; Otherwise, errors or misunderstandings may result.

To illustrate, do you remember the last time you downloaded an app on your iPhone or Android device and you got the pop-up asking whether you would allow the app to track your location?


Source: Michael Simon from Macworld.com

Similarly, time and location tracking apps use the same feature to access the location of your employees, so that the administrators of the app get real-time updates, and historical data of where employees were during work hours - excluding breaks, and hours outside of work.

What we just mentioned, namely real-time updates and Clock in/out location history are only a few sub features of location tracking designed to help businesses understand their workflow in greater detail. 

Does location tracking violate the privacy of employees?

In a growing digital environment, privacy-related concerns are common. Businesses are expected to question the legitimacy of any app that requests a username and password, whether that’s a social media network, a game or even a location tracking software. However, if researched properly, you will easily be able to distinguish between developers that have accounted for privacy in their tools and those that have not. As such, start looking for the answers to the following questions:

  • When am I tracking the location of employees?

  • What do others think about the software?

  • What will employees think about location tracking?

At Atto, the privacy of your company and employees is our number one priority. Hence, why the location tracking feature within our app will only remain active as long as employees are clocked in. The minute someone clocks out, all tracking functionalities will be turned off. Additionally, location tracking stops when:

  • Employees clock out for their daily breaks;

  • Employees are on their leaves;

  • Employees open the app while they’re clocked out;

Similarly, when clocked out, the data of the employee is not shared, stored nor sent anywhere. In fact, the app is designed to not have access to the data of employee after he/she clocks-out. As such, our goal is to create a platform that small businesses can use to improve their processes but also empower employees to grow more productive using actionable insights.

How will my small business benefit from location tracking?

Real-time updates allow the business owners, administrators or other responsible staff members to see exactly where employees are during work hours. But, what if you are too busy to look at the real-time updates? Then you refer to the location history to get a detailed overview of when and from where employees clocked in, when they took their break, and where they were when they clocked out. 

The Catch: The app does everything automatically and you don't have to bother inputting any data into it.

Here is another “But”: But, don’t you have to manually look at each employee and determine the job site they are in? Absolutely not. As an administrator, you can assign a specific radius/diameter for a specific job site, and name it as you please. Furthermore, employees can then be assigned to a job site, and they won't be able to clock-in unless they are within the assigned radius.

In addition to improving efficiency and productivity, location tracking also helps minimize time-wasting behaviors - such as clocking in from home, taking longer breaks, and more.

The types of businesses that benefit the most from a time management software have already been mentioned before. Therefore, we will be looking into specific cases to help illustrate those benefits.

Use Case 1: Managing job sites across construction projects

In general, construction companies tend to manage multiple projects at a time. This suggests that there are hundreds of employees engaged across multiple job sites. If manually managed, determining the schedules and job sites of each crew member can result in logistical mistakes, inefficient time scheduling, mismatching of skills and more. 

According to a study by McKinsey & Co, innovative construction companies have increased productivity by 50-60% by infusing digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation.

A case study looking at a family-owned construction company found that automation had saved the businesses over 400 hours a year.

Using Atto, construction companies can easily filter employees based on departments and job sites. Moreover, all the information can be viewed in real-time, allowing management to maximize efficiency when deploying crew members to job sites in an instant.

Use Case 2: Holding employees accountable in a landscaping business


The next business type that we have noticed benefiting from location tracking are landscaping businesses.

In landscaping, crew members move across tens of job sites every day. Therefore, if the process of allocating landscapers from one side to the other is not optimized, the business risks incurring unnecessary losses.

In addition to under-optimization, landscaping businesses are faced with another obstacle, namely “the quality of labor”. 

According to Brian Horn at Garden Center Magazine, “the quality of labor continues to be a problem, 66% of the surveyed businesses say that it hindered growth a lot or a fair amount compared to 51% answering that way last year”.

To prevent the two problems from coinciding, landscaping businesses have to be careful when selecting their crew; and even then there will be a need for a system that holds them accountable for the good and bad, but also communicates what they need to know.

GPS location tracking is designed to oversee the work of the crew, evaluate it and give you the information you need to drive a decision. 

Use Case 3: Promoting productivity for home repair contractors


Similar to landscaping businesses, home repair contracts are also reliant on how fast landscapers can rotate from one job site to the other. In order for them to raise productivity, home repair businesses have to first understand the time it takes for their experts to complete a certain job. This can easily be accomplished by tracking work hours across similar jobs and finding an average that can help with pricing, communicating progress and determining areas that need improvement. Furthermore, once there’s a general understanding of how time is spent, management can work on optimizing deployment across job sites. 

Time and location tracking apps are designed to help businesses improve efficiency, and grow profits in the long run. The way these apps are used across industries is fairly similar, with some industries benefiting more than others. 

Regardless of type, automation has become a necessity these days for businesses that want to compete. Start early, and adopt automation as you go. We promise the benefits are unimaginable.