5 Free Online Time Clock Software for Employees (And a Paid Option)

5 Free Online Time Clock Software for Employees (And a Paid Option)
  • Paid Online Time Clock Options:
    • Buddy Punch (We’ll discuss how we improve upon the limitations of free tools.)

Key Factors to Consider

In our experience, there are four factors you should consider when choosing an online time clock for employees:

Factor #1: There should be a buffet of features that help you increase employee accountability.

For example, you should have the option to restrict punches to a certain location, require employees to take a picture of themselves when punching in and out, and so on.

Why is this important?

As one of our customers mentioned in their review: “The thing I like most about the software is the geographical location requirement. Every time you punch in/out it shows your employer your location, making time clock fraud one less worry as a business owner and the employee more responsible about time maintenance, because you cannot get paid if you are not physically at work.”

Factor #2: There should be a buffet of features that help you save time on payroll.

For example, you should be able to download an Excel report with all the punch data needed to run payroll. There should also be features related to time off tracking, overtime, accruals, and more.

Why is this important?

As one of our customers mentioned in their review: “Before we began using Buddy Punch, completing a weekly labor analysis would take over an hour and a half. Between contacting the locations to send the timecards, manually entering daily hours, deciphering notes scribbled on the cards, and updating labor information for new employees, we had enough! Now the process is as simple as logging on, setting the date range, exporting a CSV, and migrating the data into an analysis template. What used to take over an hour takes roughly 20 minutes.”

Factor #3: If you reach out to customer support, you should receive a quick and helpful response from a knowledgeable representative.

While this may seem like a given, there are several software options on the market that make you wait for days to get a response. Also, the person replying to your email may not be knowledgeable on the product (and thus not fully answer your question).

Factor #4: The time clock software should be easy to use and intuitive.

In talks with customers, we’ve found that while the benefits of an online time clock are clear, there is a major concern regarding the onboarding process.

For example, we often get asked, “How much time would I have to spend on training employees who aren’t tech savvy?”

Why a Free Online Time Clock Software May Not Meet the Needs of Your Business

While there are several online time clocks for small businesses that offer a free plan (which we later list in this article), they come with many limitations in the four aforementioned areas.

To be more specific:

  • While some free solutions have a few features to increase employee accountability (such as requiring employees to take a photo during each punch in), many don’t offer a full range of accountability related features, such as Geofencing (restricting punches to a certain location), IP Address Locking (restricting punches to a certain device or Wi-Fi network), Facial Recognition (employees can punch in by just looking at their smartphone’s camera), and the list goes on.
  • While some free solutions have a few features to help you save time on payroll (such as exporting an Excel report with employee hours already calculated), many don’t offer a full range of payroll related features, such as integrations with payroll providers, time off and overtime reports, accruals, and more.
  • Many solutions don’t allocate many resources to training customer service representatives. And if you reach out to someone who doesn’t fully grasp the ins and outs of the product, then they may not provide a helpful response. Beyond that, we’ve heard from several customers that they had to wait for days to get a response. In contrast, while Buddy Punch (our online time clock) is a paid tool, we have a median response time of 54 seconds via live chat. In addition, our customer support staff has a deep and intuitive understanding of the product.

    As one of our customers mentioned in their review: “Their team is knowledgeable about my organization and the way that we use the platform — I have received many helpful suggestions to how we can best leverage the BuddyPunch platform in our sometimes complicated organizational structure. We have had very few issues, but have always received immediate resolutions when anything has come up.”
  • Many free solutions have a complicated interface that employees have a hard time navigating. As a result, the business owner wastes countless hours on training. In contrast, at Buddy Punch, we’ve placed a major emphasis on ease-of-use.

    As one of our customers mentioned in their review: “It has a very simple interface, easy to punch in and out as well as check timecards. I think both the desktop version and the smartphone version were well designed. It doesn’t try to do too much and make things complicated, since the main purpose is just to clock in and out, and it efficiently allows the user to do exactly that.”

How Does Buddy Punch Work? (And How It Improves on the Limitations of Free Tools)

To summarize, while Buddy Punch is a paid tool, it provides you with:

  • A greater number of features to increase employee accountability.
  • A greater number of features to speed up the payroll process.
  • Better customer service (expect a quick response time from a knowledgeable representative).
  • An intuitive and easy-to-use interface that you (and your employees) can quickly grasp how to use.

Up next, we’ll dive into detail on each of the above areas.

Features to Help You Increase Employee Accountability

Geofencing

Buddy Punch's Geofencing feature

With Geofencing, you can set up a radius around a location from which your employees are required to punch in and out.

If an employee attempts to submit a punch outside of that geofence (i.e., from a parking lot or from their home), they will be presented with an error message.

This feature is especially useful for businesses where employees are out in the field, such as construction.

GPS Tracking

Punch Map in Buddy Punch

With GPS Tracking, every time an employee punches in or out, you’ll be able to review (and verify) their GPS coordinates.

This feature is best suited for businesses where employees are constantly on the move (i.e., salesmen who arrive at 10+ locations throughout the day).

In contrast, the aforementioned Geofencing feature is best suited for businesses where employees typically punch in from the same location(s).

IP Address Locking

Edit IP Address Lock in Buddy Punch

What if you wanted to restrict employee punches to a certain device (i.e., an office computer) or a specific Wi-Fi network?

Our IP Address Locking feature makes that possible, and it’s best suited for employees in an office environment.

Photos on Punch

Photos on Punch in Buddy Punch

With Photos on Punch, employees take a photo of themselves each time they submit a punch.

You can then review those photos and verify that employees didn’t have a coworker punch in their stead.

Features to Help You Save Time on Payroll

Payroll Reports on Demand

Excel Weekly Time Sheet Export with Buddy Punch

Before:

Again, as one of our customers mentioned in their review: “Before we began using Buddy Punch, completing a weekly labor analysis would take over an hour and a half. Between contacting the locations to send the timecards, manually entering daily hours, deciphering notes scribbled on the cards, and updating labor information for new employees, we had enough!”

After:

Thanks to our on-demand payroll reports, this is a nonissue! For this customer, “what used to take over an hour takes roughly 20 minutes.”

At the end of each payroll period, they set the date range and export an Excel file where regular hours, overtime, and time off (as well as everything else they need for payroll) are automatically calculated.

Integrations with Payroll Providers

Buddy Punch integrates with endless payroll platforms from QuickBooks, to Zapier, Paychex, SurePayroll, PayPlus, ADP WorkforceNow, Paylocity, Workday, Gusto, Paycor, and more.

Before:

You have to manually transfer information (such as each employee’s work hours) to your payroll provider. This not only takes a lot of time but is also prone to inaccuracies.

After:

By setting up an integration, employee hours are automatically transferred to your payroll provider!

To learn more about the benefits (and how easy it is to implement), visit our integrations page.

Time Off Tracking

Buddy Punch offers various features that help with time off tracking.

For example, employees can request time off (paid or unpaid) within the app, and it is then sent to the business owner or manager for approval:

Time Card Pending Approval in Buddy Punch

We also offer reports that showcase how many time off hours each employee has left:

Time Off Summary and PTO History in Buddy Punch

Track Employee Hours by Jobs, Projects, or Locations

Hours Report by Location, Department, Position, Time Off

Buddy Punch offers hours reports by:

  • Location.
  • Department.
  • Position.

If this is applicable to your company, here’s a video with more information.

Accruals

Accrual Rules in Buddy Punch

Buddy Punch lets you set accrual rules (which increase the allotted time off of your employees based on various conditions, such as the number of pay periods passed).

If this is applicable to your company, here are two videos that provide more information:

Buddy Punch’s Online Reviews

We’re grateful to have received a total of 4.8 stars and 643 reviews on Capterra (a popular software review site), many of which highlight Buddy Punch’s:  

  • Excellent customer service experience.
  • Ease of use for you and your employees.

Excellent Customer Service Experience

Intuitive and Easy to Use for You and Your Employees

Interested in Learning More About Buddy Punch?

Sign up for a free trial here or see an in-depth demo walkthrough.

Online Time Clock Apps with a Free Plan:

1. Time Clock Wizard

Time Clock Wizard homepage: 100% Free Online Time Clock, Employee Scheduling, Time Tracking, Task Management, Payroll Reporting.

Time Clock Wizard offers various features, such as:

Their online time clock for employees has 83 reviews and 4.3 out of 5 stars on Capterra (at the time of writing).

Time Clock Wizard Review: Useful!

Click here to explore additional Time Clock Wizard reviews.

2. OnTheClock

OnTheClock homepage: Web Based Time Clock Software

OnTheClock offers various features, such as:

Their online time clock has 491 reviews and 4.7 out of 5 stars on Capterra (at the time of writing).

OnTheClock review: Very effective for our team!

Click here to explore additional OnTheClock reviews.

3. Clockify

Clockify homepage: The Most Popular Free Time Tracker for Teams

Clockify offers various features, such as:

Their free online time clock has 1,585 reviews and 4.7 out of 5 stars on Capterra (at the time of writing).

Clockify review: Simple, trust-based program for tracking work hours

Click here to explore additional Clockify reviews.

4. Homebase

Homebase homepage: Do less work.

Homebase offers various features, such as:

They have 795 reviews and 4.6 out of 5 stars on Capterra (at the time of writing).

Homebase review: Simply the best!

Click here to explore additional Homebase reviews.

5. Connecteam  

Connecteam homepage: Manage Your Employees with One Solution

Connecteam offers various features, such as:

They have 127 reviews and 4.8 out of 5 stars on Capterra (at the time of writing).

Connecteam review: Can't complain

Click here to explore additional Connecteam reviews.

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