Many building service contractors already use some type of automated timekeeping, as opposed to the manual paperwork method, but technology — particularly the Internet — is helping the practice evolve.

Terri Gogetap, president of FBG Service Corp. in Omaha, remembers sitting in a small dispatching room in the late 1970s, surrounded by trays of timecards for each of the employees who would call in to clock in and out. Timekeeping has come a long way since then, she says, and the technology has saved lots of time for BSCs on the back end.

Phones Popular

Phone-in systems have been used for years by BSCs, for whom a vast majority of employees work at remote job sites. Phone-in systems rely on landlines at the job site, usually a designated phone, through which janitors place calls when they arrive and leave. Many use caller identification to ensure workers are clocking in at the right location.

Touchtone telephone timekeeping is by far the most popular option BSCs choose, simply because there is usually a phone in every building. BSCs then don’t have to invest in the infrastructure to install a phone at the jobsite.

Gogetap uses a phone-in system for her 1,400 employees, and says it’s been a great time-saver.

“What that did for us was it made each employee responsible for their own time so the supervisor didn’t check them in any longer,” she says. “It really creates more accountability for the employee. They can’t say ‘My check is short’ — well, did you check in and out properly?”

There are other timekeeping technology options to choose from, include using remote computers at job sites to clock in, card swipes, and advanced systems that utilize fingerprint and handprint technology. However, card swipes aren’t foolproof, as employees can easily swipe the cards of others.

Extremely advanced technology is probably only used by a select few, very large BSCs, says Joseph Jenkins, president and CEO of BearCom Building Services in Salt Lake City.

Phone systems are simple but smart, alerting supervisors of any discrepancies. Some systems flag any calls not made from the job site, while others allow employees to call from preapproved specific numbers, including the work site but also cell phones. If no call is made, supervisors are alerted so they can make appropriate arrangements.

Online hosting

Though not much in timekeeping has changed in recent years, one aspect of implementing it has changed, thanks to the Internet. Now, timekeeping can be done through an online application service provider, making it easier and more affordable for contractors of any size.

Companies that offer timekeeping software usually have two options for BSCs: software that can be purchased and run off of a home server in an office, or using a product hosted online. Hosted sites are accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection, and are becoming increasingly popular as BSCs become more Web savvy.

BSCs like the online service because they don’t have to worry about the IT aspects of it — eliminating those labor, equipment and software costs.

In the years to come, Jenkins expects small, start-up companies will opt for the electronic timekeeping, as poor labor management can break BSCs.

“The way it used to be, if you were small you just couldn’t afford it,” says Jenkins. “But with this going online the way it is, you don’t have start-up fees, you just have a monthly fee based on the number of employees you have an then you pay a per-call fee. And that’s it.”