An In-Depth Guide to Tracking Office Attendance: Best Practices & Tools

An In-Depth Guide to Tracking Office Attendance: Best Practices & Tools


For many industries, office attendance and office occupancy aren’t the same thing; for example, due to the pandemic, many companies discovered that remote work can provide flexibility, increase employee satisfaction, improve work-life balance, and boost workers’ well-being (among other benefits). 

Other industries have always had more complicated situations than groups of employees working 9–5 in a single office building: they have employees who work at multiple locations; some combination of field sites, retail venues, and offices; or seasonally shifting rosters with a mix of contractors and full-time/part-time employees. 

Therefore, any tool for measuring office attendance needs to be able to address the distinctive challenges of different types of in-office attendance, flexible work, hybrid work, and remote work, including:

  • Accurately measuring work hours: Whether employees are paid hourly or on salary, it’s important to know their hours worked in order to accurately calculate payroll (including overtime). Any office attendance solution needs to be able to measure hours worked for in-person, hybrid, and remote employees.
  • Providing accountability in time reporting: Time theft refers to when employees (often unintentionally) report working when they weren’t at work. Wage theft refers to when employers partly or fully withhold wages for the time employees worked. Therefore, a good office attendance tool provides transparency for both parties.
  • Implementing breaks and time off: Employees need time off, both during the workday (e.g. meal breaks) and during the work year (e.g. sick leave). Depending on the type of absence, employees may also be owed compensation, as in the case of paid time off (PTO). Therefore, office attendance solutions need to be able to track the type of time off in addition to the length of the absence.

Furthermore, accurately recording office attendance is key to business processes such as scheduling and payroll. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the challenges businesses face when trying to keep track of the attendance rates of in-person, hybrid, and remote workers. We’ll also provide examples of how a robust office attendance solution (namely our own product, Buddy Punch) can facilitate office attendance regardless of whether work happens within a literal office space.

Buddy Punch is a cloud-based time tracking solution that you can use to keep perfect office attendance records, with built-in tools for scheduling and payroll. At the time of this writing, Buddy Punch has over 960 reviews on Capterra, with a score of 4.8/5. Keep reading to learn more, or visit our site to schedule a demo or try it free today.

How to Keep Track of Office Attendance

In order to keep track of whether employees are working when they’re supposed to, there are three key steps:

  • Create a work schedule. If you want your employees to work their assigned hours, they need to know what those hours are and have access to the schedule. 
  • Give your team a versatile way to clock in and out. Employees need to be able to accurately log their hours whether they’re in the office, working from home, or in the field.
  • Customize your time tracking system to your office attendance policy. Since office attendance isn’t one-size-fits-all, your office attendance system needs to be tailored to fit your needs. This includes factors like accountability measures, tracking paid time off, and overtime policies.

All of these things are key parts of Buddy Punch’s time tracking software. Buddy Punch is used by all types of businesses to track office attendance, create work schedules, and more.

We’re proud of the tool we built to help business owners and the feedback we get from our customers. At the time of this writing, we’ve received over 960 reviews with an average rating of 4.8/5, on Capterra, an unbiased, third-party review site.

Buddy Punch reviews on Capterra (960)

Here are just some of those reviews that reflect how Buddy Punch helps with scheduling and time tracking.

“Easy to use. Many of my employees are students with ever changing schedules. Buddy Punch is easy to use and change schedules weekly or even daily as things come up. BP tracks the time the employee is logged in so I don’t have to.”

– David J., President of a Veterinary Clinic that manages 11–50 employees.

Click here to read the full review.

Buddy Punch makes employee time tracking very easy. Employees just need to be within a geofence (if one is set up) log in and punch in/punch out. They don’t have to jump through endless steps for something that should be straightforward. The user interface is also very user friendly.

– Bryan P., Staff Training Coordinator at a business with 11–50 employees.

Click here to read the full review.

“We have been using Buddy Punch since 2015. Prior to Buddy Punch we were using an excel spreadsheet for time keeping. We use Buddy Punch as a time clock for daily in/out and breaks. We use the PTO accrual system and PTO tracker. Buddy Punch is easy to use and easy to figure out. Customer service is responsive. The few times I’ve needed help (very rare) they were super responsive and made sure my problem was completely solved. Staff loves the mobile app. It makes punching in/out easy so staff can punch in as they enter the building because inevitably they will be waylaid with questions before they even get to their computer. Buddy Punch is constantly upgrading and improving. There are many ‘bells and whistles’ that we don’t even use- but it is nice to know they are there if we ever need them. I would recommend Buddy Punch to anyone.”

– Anita W., Office Manager at a Law Firm with 1–10 employees. 

Click here to read the full review.

“It has a great deal of flexibility and gives administrators/managers the ability to see who is here at any given time of the day. Managers also have the ability to approve PTO prior to it being added to the time sheet. This provides accountability for both the employee and manager. They can also schedule shift work if necessary. In running payroll, since employees will punch in, be able to track their time as well as PTO in one place; this saves me time on my end.” 

– Telesa K., Administrative Assistant at an Organization with 51–200 employees.

Click here to read the full review.

In the next sections, we take a closer look at using Buddy Punch to create a work schedule, accurately track hours worked, and customize your time tracking system to your office attendance policy.

Creating and Sharing a Work Schedule

Creating a work schedule helps you ensure that:

  • Your employees are being assigned sufficient hours.
  • No one is assigned too many hours.
  • Employees are assigned to the correct role.
  • All roles for each location and shift are filled.
  • Each employee is assigned to the correct location(s).
  • All locations are sufficiently staffed.
  • Employees are only assigned to shifts they’re available for, both on a regular basis and when they’ve requested time off.
  • Nobody is assigned to work when the business is closed (such as during certain holidays).
  • Employees know when their shifts are.
  • There’s a way for employees to report when they can’t make it to work, allowing someone else to cover for them.

When a company has more than a handful of employees, particularly when there are multiple work sites, keeping track of schedules is crucial yet tedious without the proper software in place. Fortunately, software solutions like Buddy Punch provide ways to easily generate equitable schedules that factor in locations and positions.

Buddy Punch Auto Scheduling

Schedule Interface: Start Date, End Date

Buddy Punch uses a drag-and-drop calendar scheduling interface. 

You can easily drag premade shift templates onto the calendar and customize them to meet your needs. If you have recurring shifts, you can save schedules you’ve created as templates so you can easily reuse them.

Location and Job Codes

Add a New Location

When you create a shift in Buddy Punch, editable fields include locations, departments, and positions. This means you can easily specify:

  • Where an employee is working
  • What job code or department they’re clocking hours for
  • The position each employee is working

Employees will be able to see this information when they view their schedules.

Schedule Sharing

Services Schedule: Shift Notification for Christopher

Buddy Punch lets you customize notification settings; for example, if you need to edit a schedule, you can specify that only the employees whose shifts have changed get notified. 

Employees can get alerted via push notifications or SMS messages and view their schedules through our mobile app or via their self-service portal.

Shift Swapping

Trade Request: Alex is now successfully covering your shift

Buddy Punch has a built-in shift trading feature for when employees can’t make their shift. Employees can contact each other to request covers, and once they reach an agreement, it’s forwarded to a manager for approval to ensure everyone is kept in the loop.

Accurately Tracking Hours Worked 

When employees work at multiple locations, whether those locations are construction sites or a home office, badge swipes, occupancy sensors, and in-office kiosk systems are insufficient for tracking office attendance. There are two general approaches for this problem.

  • One approach is to mix physical logs with electronic sign-ins. For example, some construction companies use punch cards for construction sites and software options for their office workers. The downside is that it can be difficult to keep all pertinent records organized, contributing to errors in time reporting and payroll.
  • The other approach is to use a cloud-based time tracking solution that allows employees to log in regardless of where they work, whether that’s a shared spreadsheet or designated time tracking software. The effectiveness of this approach depends on the solution itself, but the consistent downside is that cloud-based systems aren’t always practical for sites without internet or data coverage.

Buddy Punch is an all-in-one cloud-based time tracking solution that can be used to measure office attendance for in-person, hybrid, and remote workspaces.

Employees Can Login from Anywhere with Buddy Punch

Time Card: Punch for John Smith

Buddy Punch is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, which lets employees log in from their own devices no matter where they’re working from. 

In addition, it has a text to punch feature which allows employees to log in by sending a text, so it works even in areas without Wi-Fi or data coverage.

Text to Punch: Emma Emily example

Finally, for employers who do want a central clock-in point for at least some of their locations, Buddy Punch offers a kiosk mode that lets employees log in via their credentials.

Self-Service Portals and Time Card Approval

Emma Megan Payroll example: Overtime Type

Both employers and employees need to be able to view hours, which is why Buddy Punch offers a self-service portal for employees in addition to its dashboard for managers. It also has an optional system for approving time cards, which can serve as an additional safeguard against human error (e.g. employees forgetting to log out at the end of their shifts). 

These features ensure accurate records are accessible to both employees and employers.

Customizable Reports

Export to Excel, CSV, PDF, or print for payroll

Buddy Punch offers tools for data management and time reporting, including customizable reports with metrics like hours by day, in/out activity, PTO summaries, and employee details. 

These reports can be exported into CSV, Excel, or PDF for payroll providers. They can also be printed to meet the needs of company or legislative recordkeeping policies.

Customize Your Time Tracking System to Your Office Attendance Policy

Any office attendance system can keep track of how many hours employees have worked. However, most companies have considerably more complex needs, and may also need:

  • Accountability tools. Verify employees are in compliance with your company’s working policy, including ensuring employees are at their designated work site when they log in to prevent time theft via geofencing.
  • Safeguards against human error. Employees frequently forget to punch in or out, so a tool that flags potential errors or automatically prevents them is an essential time-saver for both managers and workers.
  • Systems for requesting leave. Whether it’s sick leave or PTO, employees need to be aware of how much leave they have available and be able to request it; meanwhile, managers need to be able to easily approve employees’ requests and keep track of absences for scheduling purposes.

Buddy Punch can address all these needs due to its suite of customizable, user-friendly time tracking and scheduling tools.

Accountability: Geofencing

Geofencing Radius and Geofencing Address

Employers who want to ensure their employees are on-site when they clock in can set up geofences. Geofences are a designated radius around each job site that employees must be inside to successfully clock in. (This prevents employees from clocking in while they’re still commuting to work, which is a form of time theft.)

Accountability: GPS Tracking

GPS and Geofencing: Type and Device

When employees are clocked in — and only when they’re clocked in — their location can be tracked via Buddy Punch. Managers can designate specific employees for location tracking, ensuring that only employees whose location is pertinent (such as delivery drivers or real estate agents handling house tours) can be monitored for both accountability and safety reasons.

Accountability: IP Address Locking

IP Address Lock: Restrict clock in behavior based on IP address

For workplaces that are primarily located in offices or other buildings with Wi-Fi, managers can use IP Address Locking to prevent time theft. In other words, unless employees are logged into the building’s Wi-Fi, they won’t be able to log in. 

Accountability: Punch Rounding

Punch Rounding Settings: Round "Punch Out" Times

Employees rarely log in exactly on the hour, so rounding log-in and log-out times is to be expected. However, this can cause problems when employees consistently come in late and leave early but round to their scheduled start and end times.

Therefore, the punch rounding settings lets you designate the increment and direction of rounding, which is then automatically applied whenever employees clock in or out with Buddy Punch.

Safeguards: Automatic Punch Outs

Automatically punch an employee out after a certain amount of time

Employees don’t always remember to punch out at the end of their shift, which is why Buddy Punch created the automatic punch out feature. Managers can designate a time interval after a scheduled shift ends for employees to be automatically clocked out if they haven’t done so manually, reducing human error and minimizing the need for time card corrections.

Safeguards: Automatic Breaks

Automatic break rule

Labor laws mandate breaks for employees, and company policies may provide additional breaks for employees as bonuses and incentives. Buddy Punch allows you to set up automatic breaks that trigger when certain conditions are met; for example, a lunch break can be set to begin after an employee has worked for three hours.

These breaks can be customized based on employee roles or departments to further account for company break policies. 

Overall, automatic breaks remove the need for employees to clock in and out, which reduces the potential for human error in time reporting.

Safeguards: Overtime Alerts

Overtime Alert for Alex Wizard

When employees fail to log out — or lose track of time — it can result in unplanned overtime. To prevent this, employers can set up overtime alerts that go to both the employee in question and their manager, allowing the employee to log out and the manager to adjust the schedule if necessary.

Requesting Leave: PTO Accrual Rules

PTO Accrual Rules: Set up accrual rules on how PTO is earned

In addition to tracking hours worked, Buddy Punch can track the accrual of leave, including paid time off, according to rules designated by managers. These rules can be customized by role and department to reflect company leave policy (e.g. different accrual rates for PTO based on seniority). 

Both employees and managers can view available leave in Buddy Punch. Workers can also request leave via Buddy Punch, and these requests will be sent directly to the manager for approval.

Additional Benefits of Buddy Punch

In addition to having time-tracking and scheduling capabilities necessary for employee office attendance, Buddy Punch offers options for payroll. 

For companies that are happy with their current payroll system, Buddy Punch offers integrations with leading accounting software like QuickBooks, ADP, and Gusto, improving accuracy and efficiency.

Buddy Punch also has a built-in payroll system that directly calculates workers’ wages based on their time cards, including hourly pay, overtime, and non-hourly bonuses.

Run Payroll

Once payroll has been finalized, Buddy Punch automatically files relevant taxes, including sending necessary forms to employees. Whether your company is located in New York City or Washington D.C., Buddy Punch will send all necessary local, state, and federal taxes. This is assisted by its ability to record expenses such as mileage, reimbursements, and Group Life Term.

Finally, employees get to set up their preferred payment methods within their self-service portals. If they choose direct deposit, Buddy Punch will automatically disburse their wages to their bank account.

To reap the benefits of an all-in-one cloud-based office attendance and payroll system, request a demo of Buddy Punch or try it free today.

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