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The best employee time clock isn’t a time clock

Last updated on 
October 16, 2020

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Love it or hate it, you can’t invoice accurately, improve profitability or ensure everyone’s pulling in the right direction without time tracking. While businesses have been using time clocks to do the job since the late 1800s, they have aged terribly. Our work models have changed, our tools have become increasingly digital and our tolerance for administrative interruption has reached its limit. Here's why manual time clocks are no longer up-to-task.

What is a work time clock?

Time clocks record people’s working hours by showing when they arrive and leave work. First introduced back in the 1880s, they usually depend on some form of manual input to document employee time – either in the form of a card that gets “punched” with holes or timestamped. More modern varieties have used magnetic stripe cards, RFID tags, remote mobile devices and even biometrics to work, but the reliance on manual action remains.

How time clocks work against employers

Time clocks are completely dependent on manual input, and thus extremely vulnerable to human error. They’re often highly inflexible and unable to deal with inconsistencies like forgetting your key card, punching in early or forgetting to clock in.

By placing the responsibility of providing accurate data on the shoulders of the employee, time clocks also create a tense workplace dynamic. They uphold a worker-employer divide and one-way power flow which can cripple company culture.

Time clocks support a binary view of employee time that doesn’t provide any rich insight into what employees actually do, how they perform and whether they need support. Attendance – although important – is only one feature of a healthy, productive workforce and cannot measure the quality of time spent or employee effectiveness.

Time clock apps don’t solve the problem

In an effort to stay relevant, many companies have updated time clocks for the modern workplace. Time clock apps are now available online, can be accessed from mobile devices to allow remote teams to “clock in”, and even use proximity terminals to punch in when you walk past.


But they simplify rather than solve the problem, transferring the age-old flaws of manual time clocks to a digital setting. You still have to fill in the blanks the system can’t understand, you still have a colourless view of employee time, and you still introduce low-value admin into each employee's day.

Automate employee time tracking

In 2019, there is a solution to the inaccuracies and irritations of time clocks – and that solution is automatic. Automatic employee hours trackers satisfy the basic function of time clocks whilst heaping on a ton of employee insights in the process. Tools like Timely:

  • track everything you work on across devices
  • use AI to create timesheets for you automatically
  • show how long people spend on different tasks
  • highlight where employees struggle
  • reveal who is overloaded and who has extra capacity
  • show if everyone is working to priorities

GPS location tracking captures how long you spend on-site, so you don’t have to manually do anything. Since every detail of your working day is captured, nothing gets forgotten or misremembered.  It’s the most accurate and productive form of time tracking going – you don’t have to waste any time physically doing it.


The best bit? It can also create employee timesheets automatically, ensuring you bill clients accurately for all your work – not just the bits you remember.

Hours accurate-timesheets@2x

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Timely automatically tracks team hours,
activity and capacity to keep remote work visible.
Lead happier, healthier teams.

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Keep your team ticking

Timely automatically tracks team hours, activity
and capacity to keep everyone connected.
Lead happier, healthier teams.

Book a demo

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