If you’ve ever “checked in” at a location on Facebook, used a ride-sharing service or received a mobile ad alert, you’ve been exposed to geofencing. Used with GPS tracking, geofencing is quickly becoming a way for employers to track their workers’ movements in order to keep them safe and remain productive.

What is Geofencing

Geofencing is a location-based service that typically uses GPS or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to set up a virtual boundary around a location. It is like an invisible fence that alerts whoever set it up about the people coming and going. For businesses, a geofence can alert them to a customer visiting a store, the size of a salesperson’s territory or when workers visit a construction site.

How Geofencing is Used Today

Geofencing is used across multiple industries from farming to security. It is used to track a location, equipment or people.

  • Track a location. Setting up a geofence around a location alerts a business when someone enters. This type of geofencing is often used for social media purposes and marketing. Some examples include when you “check in” on Facebook at a location, use a customized, location-based Instagram filter for a photo or chat with a Snapchat friend in the same area. Businesses can also push-market incentives, discounts and promotions to customers in an area.
  • Track equipment. Geofencing allows a company to monitor when its vehicles and equipment come and go. For example, a business can determine if a machine is in a fixed location or leaving a worksite. Companies use this type of information to pull reports on performance: for example, the time it takes crews to unload a truck or move dirt with an excavator.
  • Track people. Geofencing is set up to work with employee time tracking and attendance to monitor when and where employees work. A geofence flags whether an employee is on site as they clock i nor out, or may allow employees to clock in only in designated areas. For example, a construction employee might not be allowed to clock in until they physically stepped onto the job site, whose GPS coordinates and radius are determined by their employer. Companies can typically use the same app that checks employee location to monitor how the employee spends his or her time on the job, and any overtime worked.

Geofencing Examples in the Real World

  • Burger King’s Whopper Detour Campaign. Burger King’s Whopper Detour Campaign offered Whoppers for $0.01 to customers within a 600-foot radius of a McDonald’s. Customers could download the Burger King app and head to their nearest McDonald’s. When they were within the geofence, the app would redirect them to their nearest Burger King to redeem the promo. The campaign drove more than 1.5 million downloads.
  • Sephora To Go App. The app is available only to Sephora’s most loyal customers. It allows them to bridge physical and virtual shopping experiences by providing product information via the app while the customer is standing in the store. Clients pick up a product and use the app’s scanner to find product reviews and watch videos.
  • Time clock app in construction. Time clock apps work with geofencing and GPS to track employees’ locations on construction sites. The app stores a custom geofence of the site and alerts the company if an employee uses his or her time keeping app to clock in or out outside the site, like a virtual foreman.
  • Fleet management. Geofencing is used by fleet and trucking companies to track vehicle locations. Geofencing and GPS tracking alerts companies about vehicle theft, helps prevent theft with security and locking measures and reports on employee driving habits.

Why You Should Use Geofencing

Geofencing and GPS tracking can positively impact your business. Not only do they help employers keep track of workers, but they can also improve productivity. One study showed workers believe tracking helps them be more efficient and motivated, and 22% believe it increased their productivity. Companies that use geofencing also:

  1. Know which of their workers are on site. This is an advantage not only in pinpointing when workers are attempting to clock in early or buddypunch. It also means you are certain who was working and can accurately estimate the time it takes to complete a project. Using time tracking data gives companies the ability to properly staff projects, helping to guarantee they’ll be done on time and on budget.
  2. Set permissions that restrict clocking in outside of the geofence. Set boundaries for your employees and eliminate time theft. A time clock app works by allowing employees to clock in from their mobile devices. A geofence ensures workers may only clock in on the job site and not from their homes or while en route to the site.
  3. Maintain compliance by eliminating unpaid overtime hours. By law, non-exempt workers must be paid for any hours over 40 worked in a week. Employee geofencing not only keeps you compliant but may help attract more workers. GPS tracking linked to an employee time clock app ensures your workers receive an accurate paycheck. In fact, 53% of workers say they’d be more inclined to accept a job with GPS tracking if it ensured they were accurately paid.

Considerations About Using Geofencing

As with any piece of technology, there will always be some cons along with the pros. Concerns with geofencing and GPS tracking could be:

  1. Drain on mobile phone battery life. Employees may be unwilling to try geofencing because of fears it will drain battery life. More and more developers are designing apps that limit battery drain while still providing timely notifications. Note: While breadcrumbing tends to use more battery power, GPS tracking with geofences doesn’t typically use much.
  2. Privacy concerns. Workers may be concerned with their privacy if they are monitored by geofencing. To help eliminate concerns, be upfront with your employees about any GPS tracking requirements before they take the job, and assure them that they will never be tracked when they are off the clock.
  3. Adjusting it to fit your needs. Some companies may be hesitant to implement a geofence because they’re not sure how well it will work for them or their location. Geofencing has a variety of applications that can suit almost any need or location. For example, ExakTime recently added a new warning option for workers attempting to clock in or out of a job site when they are outside of the geofence range.

What Employers Need to Know About GPS Tracking Workers

Not every company has to have geofencing capabilities and GPS tracking, but many employees believe both will increase and become mandatory in the next five years, according to the Score Association. Here’s what you should know.

  • Most workers don’t mind being tracked. Most employees think positively about GPS tracking. They don’t mind being tracked for work while on the job, but they want their employers to be transparent and honest about how they get and use the information they collect, according to Score.
  • GPS tracking keeps workers safe. Thirty-three percent of companies track staff to increase job safety. With GPS tracking, employers can see how many workers they have onsite and how many need to be onsite to get the work done safely. Companies can also view if employees are working at night, which can be a huge safety risk, especially in construction.
  • Employees assume tracking is the future. Getting workers on board with GPS tracking might be easier than you think. As mentioned above, people are already accustomed to geofencing in their social and marketing experiences. Workers see GPS tracking as part of the future and, for those who work desk jobs, believe it may eliminate the need to go into the office in the future.
  • Be open about privacy. The best thing a company can do when considering implementing GPS tracking is to be upfront with employees about its use. In fact, 60% of employees worry their data could be shared and 41% are concerned their personal info would be spread around their workplace. Let your employees know when they are being tracked, how they are being tracked and what you do with the information.
  • Find a solution that works for you. ExakTime Mobile offers construction companies a powerful solution for effective time tracking. It is a GPS mobile app employees can use to clock in and out. It uses GPS tracking to keep track of employee location data. All data is passed on to a cloud-based hub where it is stored and can be accessed by managers and accounting. ExakTime Geofencing capabilities work by setting a custom-sized radius around your location. GPS pinpoints the nearest job site and suggests locations to workers for easy clock in. You can track employees by location while clocked in and prevent employees from clocking in outside of the geofence. Plus, all of the information syncs to your payroll system so checks are always accurate.

Schedule a demo to see how geofencing and GPS tracking can easily be implemented at your job sites.