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How to choose the best time clock app for your small business

  • Traditional time tracking methods like punch clocks are susceptible to time theft and buddy punching and don’t give you a comprehensive overview of employee working hours
  • Web-based time clocks are the best solution for tracking employee work time entries, staying compliant with labor laws, and managing spread out teams with more transparency
  • If you run an hourly team, every minute counts. So why not track them accurately?
  • Homebase’s free time clock app for small businesses makes monitoring employee attendance and working hours a breeze

What is a time clock app?

A time clock app, also known as a mobile time tracker, is a web-based alternative to mechanical punch clocks. Time clock apps let employees clock in and out of their shifts from a computer browser or an app on their mobile devices — all they need is internet access. 

Using a time clock app means you can keep more accurate records of employee hours and even prevent staff members from clocking in for late or absent coworkers, also known as buddy punching. Platforms like Homebase also save time and attendance data in cloud storage for up to four years, keeping you compliant with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) legal requirements.

Time clock software solutions like Homebase go beyond easy employee time tracking and labor cost forecasting — they also integrate with payroll software to make paying employees simple. Homebase Payroll automatically connects with your staff members’ timesheets, then calculates hours and creates wage reports for each of your employees.

The 3 most popular types of employee time clocks for small businesses

Small business owners use several different kinds of time clocks in their day-to-day operations. These are three of the most popular options.

1. Traditional punch clocks

Traditional punch clocks require both full-time and part-time team members to physically insert their time cards into machines that punch holes that indicate the times they clocked in and out of their shifts. The problem with punch clocks is they’re susceptible to buddy punching.

2. Biometric time clocks

Some businesses use facial recognition time clocks, which can read each employee’s biometric data to determine who is clocking in and out. These types of time clocks eliminate the practices of time theft and buddy punching, but they aren’t legal in all states and can pose serious compliance and employee experience risks.

3. Time clock apps

Time tracking apps like Homebase’s free time clock make monitoring employee working hours second nature. They mean your staff members can clock in and out of their shifts from any device, and you can easily view and edit their timecards from anywhere. And time clock apps also store all your data in the cloud, so you can refer back to it at any time and don’t have to deal with filing away old-fashioned paperwork. 

How can your small business benefit from using a time clock app

While relying on old-fashioned time cards or pen-and-paper timesheets can seem like a simple and convenient way to keep track of employee working hours, there are many more benefits to using a time clock app. 

Let’s take a look at five ways time tracking software can help improve the way you run your small business.

1. Prevent time theft

Time theft and buddy punching result in increased labor costs for employers — and sometimes as much as hundreds of dollars every week. Time clock apps like Homebase put a stop to that by assigning each staff member a unique PIN code that no one else can use to clock themselves in. And in addition, our GPS-enabled software makes it so employees can only sign in and out of work at their job site or a pre-defined, geo-fenced location. 

Some time clock tools can also alert you when an employee is late to their shift and even take photos of your staff members when they clock in so you can be sure the right person is logging the time. Spoiler alert: Homebase does all of that and it’s free

2. Keep more accurate records

Traditional paper timesheets are often inaccurate and can’t be verified easily. That means you might end up paying for labor that wasn’t performed or underpaying staff members who worked longer hours than documented. Mobile time clocks like Homebase automatically track overtime and store accurate time reports, so you’ll always pay your workers correctly.  

The best time clock apps work on any Android or iOS device, or computer with a web browser, and securely store all the information you collect in the cloud. The result is detailed, error-free records that improve worker satisfaction, keep you compliant, and make running payroll a breeze.

3. Automate and simplify repetitive tasks

Repetitive tasks hurt productivity and make everyone’s jobs a little more monotonous. But an excellent time clock app can automate or significantly simplify this kind of work to save you time and reduce the likelihood of you making mistakes. 

For example, managers can easily spend hours pouring over Excel or paper timesheets to create the perfect employee schedule. But software like Homebase can help you build an optimized team schedule in no time by:

  • Providing you with templates and auto-scheduling functions 
  • Letting you track employee availability and time off to avoid scheduling conflicts
  • Allowing you to post open shifts for team members to claim
  • Enabling team members to swap shifts amongst themselves, all you have to do is hit ‘approve’

And once your schedule is ready, Homebase automatically sends it out to your team and saves you the trouble of having to message individual employees yourself. 

An ideal time tracking and scheduling app should also be able to automate tasks like:

  1. Running payroll
  2. Approving PTO requests 
  3. Reminding employees of upcoming shifts 
  4. Issuing and sending out vital forms and documents like 1099s and W-2s

4. Stay compliant

Staying on top of local, state, and federal labor laws — and making sure you abide by them — is one of the most important yet stressful parts of running a small business. So make sure your software of choice can take care of that for you. 

Homebase automatically tracks employee breaks and overtime and alerts you if a staff member is about to surpass their work hour limits, which ensures you’re not violating any labor laws. Our higher-level paid plans also give you access to your very own HR and compliance expert so they can review your business policies and answer your questions.

What features to look for in a time tracking app for my small business

There are a lot of time clock app options available out there. Some have higher ratings, while others promise to have more functionalities. To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve prepared a list of features that when combined, can make your time tracking software of choice your business’s superpower.

Remote time editing

You can’t be everywhere at once. So you should be able to easily view and edit your staff members’ time entries from anywhere. Homebase allows managers and owners to easily adjust employee hours in case someone forgets to clock in or out themselves. This added flexibility will let you fix errors more quickly and focus your time and energy on other parts of your business. 

Compliance management

Your time clock of choice should also help prevent compliance risks. Homebase’s time clock real-time notifications can alert you when an employee misses a break, shows up late, or is about to hit overtime. This helps you get ahead of any compliance issues and enforce your schedule and mandatory breaks.

Accurate clock-ins and buddy punching prevention system

Aside from each employee’s unique PIN code, Homebase’s time clock tool can also take photos of team members as they clock in for their shifts. This ensures the right person is signing into work, but also follows state or local compliance laws around biometric data.

Payroll tools and integrations

The biggest problem with running payroll manually isn’t just that it takes time — it’s also susceptible to human error, which can lead to frustrated employees and even legal issues in the future. That’s why it’s crucial to use a time clock app that makes the payroll process straightforward and cuts down on avoidable mistakes. 

Homebase payroll instantly converts your employee timesheets into hours and wages. We figure out totals, overtime, and taxes and send the correct payments to your employees, the state, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We even offer integrations with top payroll providers like ADP, Gusto, and Quickbooks if you already use one of those solutions and want to keep going with it. 

The 3 best time clock apps for small businesses

Interested in getting an attendance and time tracking app set up for your small business? Let’s take a look at some of the best options out there, along with their notable features, pros and cons, and pricing.

1. Homebase

Homebase’s time tracking app lets your employees turn almost any device into a mobile time clock.
Source: https://joinhomebase.com/time-clock/

Homebase is an all-in-one team management tool designed specifically for small businesses and hourly teams. Its features for time tracking, scheduling, hiring and onboarding, payroll, team communication, and HR and compliance work together seamlessly to give you and your staff members the best possible experience working together. 

With our time tracking app, your employees can clock in and out from their mobile devices when they arrive at work for the day. Then, you can accurately track their hours, breaks, overtime, and personal time off (PTO). And if you have remote or off-site team members, simply enable the app’s GPS and geo-fencing capabilities, so you can be sure everyone’s signing into work at the right place.

Stand-out features

  • Time clock 
  • Reminders and notifications 
  • Clock-in photos
  • Employee scheduling 
  • Built-in integrations like Square and QuickBooks 
  • Unique PINs for employee clock ins
  • GPS tracking and geo-fencing 
  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Payroll 
  • HR and compliance 

Pros and cons

Homebase offers a one-stop solution that’s made specifically to meet the needs of small business owners. Customers frequently praise our platform’s ease of use and user-friendliness and many of our core features, like time tracking, scheduling, and hiring, are free to use. 

And while the Homebase time clock’s geo-fencing capabilities aren’t as flawlessly accurate as on-site biometric clock-in pads, using them provides a better employee experience and helps build professional relationships based on mutual trust.

Pricing

Homebase’s time tracking app is free and also includes scheduling, messaging, and hiring features!

2. Clockify

Clockify targets agencies and freelancers but has some time tracking features that would suit small businesses, like a GPS tracker and timesheets.
Source: https://clockify.me/

Clockify is a simple time tracking and timesheet app that allows agencies, freelancers, and small businesses to categorize their work by tasks and projects. The platform also has a manual GPS tracker that improves accountability and transparency and reminder notifications that alert your team members to log their hours if they’ve forgotten to do so.

Stand-out features

  • Time tracking
  • Timesheets
  • Employee scheduling
  • Alerts and reminders
  • Invoicing tool
  • Payroll integration
  • GPS tracker

Pros and cons

Clockify is a straightforward software solution that’s great for users who are only looking for time tracking capabilities. It’s also available in both English and Spanish, making it more accessible for multilingual teams.

However, this app doesn’t have an automatic GPS clock in feature, so employees have to sign in to work manually. Additionally, since the app is mainly targeted to agencies and freelancers, it’s more suited to project management and small business owners might not find all the features they need to run their operations seamlessly.

Pricing

Clockify is completely free to use.

3. Hourly

Hourly offers timesheets, time tracking, and overtime and break monitoring for hourly teams.
Source: https://www.g2.com/products/hourly/reviews

Hourly is a team management platform that offers time tracking, labor reporting, team management, and payroll for small businesses. It specializes in making workers’ compensation seamless and works with clients in industries including landscaping, hospitality, and cleaning and maintenance services.

Stand-out features

  • Real-time and manual time tracking 
  • GPS and geo-fencing capabilities
  • Analytics 
  • A ‘time clock kiosk’
  • Payroll
  • Workers’ compensation tools

Pros and cons

Hourly makes it easy for business owners to simplify invoicing and payroll by combining time tracking and payroll services in one straightforward product. Additionally, G2 users report a positive experience with its customer service and tech support agents.

However, the solution is more expensive than some of its competitors, and users who are interested in its time tracking functions can only access it as an add-on service, which comes at an additional price.

Pricing

Hourly’s Gold pricing plan begins at $6 per month per employee, plus a $40 per month base payment.

What makes Homebase the best time clock app for small businesses

Homebase’s time and attendance software does more than just tell you which of your team members are working at any given time. It also gives you:

  1. Real-time tracking: Whenever, wherever 
  2. PTO and sick leave request tracking
  3. GPS location features 
  4. Simple and secure clock-ins and clock-outs 
  5. Offline application management 

Real-time tracking: Whenever, wherever

The Homebase time clock app allows you to track the hours your employees worked within each pay period from any device. That means you can turn any browser, mobile phone, or tablet into a smart and efficient time clock. Plus, all of your data will be seamlessly synced into the cloud and you can view data, like labor costs, in real time.

PTO and sick leave request tracking

Do you offer paid time off? Homebase makes it easy to track employee availability, time off requests, and approvals with its free online schedule maker. That means your team members will be able to plan better, and you won’t have to worry as much about unscheduled absences or last-minute schedule changes. 

Simply use Homebase to track hours and determine how much paid leave your employees accrue. Then, approve (or deny) PTO requests in advance instead of relying on last-minute shift swapping.

GPS location features

If you have workers who work remotely or at spread out job sites that don’t necessarily need to show up at your headquarters before their shifts, Homebase is the tool for you. Our platform’s GPS location capabilities allow employees to clock in on their devices when they arrive at work, no matter where they are. All you have to do is set up a geofence around the site and you’ll be able to verify their clock in location on the app.

Simple and secure clock ins and clock outs

Speaking of clocking in, Homebase doesn’t require your employees to remember tricky passwords and usernames. Instead, they each get their own unique PIN that no one else has access to, which they use to clock in and out of all their shifts.

Offline access

Worried about using an online time clock with an unreliable internet connection? Not a problem. Our app keeps track of your employee data at all times, even if your internet goes down for a period of time.

FAQs about time clock apps for small businesses

How do small businesses track time?

Small businesses can track employee attendance and hours differently depending on their specific needs. However, some of the most common ways small business owners and managers monitor their team members’ working hours include:

  • Pen and paper timesheets
  • Digital timesheets
  • Mechanical punch clocks 
  • Biometric time clocks 
  • Time clock apps

Is there a free time clock app I can use for my small business?

With Homebase’s Basic plan, you can start tracking your employee hours (and even managing hiring, scheduling, and messaging) for free. Zero cost, zero learning curve. 

And alongside its time tracking features, our platform allows you to monitor breaks and overtime so you can stay compliant and keep your labor costs under control. And if you need additional tools for onboarding, payroll, and HR and compliance, you can always upgrade to the next affordable tier.

What is the best time clock app for a small business?

We truly believe that Homebase is the best time clock app for a small business. And here’s why:

  • Homebase is designed specifically for hourly teams and small businesses. Our software helps you track hours, overtime, and paid time off, all while keeping you in control of your labor costs and compliant with state and federal labor laws. This way, you can focus on doing what you do best—running and growing your business.
  • Homebase makes running payroll a breeze. We accomplish this by integrating your time clock app and timesheets with our very own payroll solution. Already using another payroll solution like Gusto or Quickbooks? Don’t worry — our app integrates with several top payroll providers, so there’s no extra hassle for you.
  • Homebase is great for remote or off-site teams. Our GPS-enabled mobile time clock app lets you track remote employees’ devices and ensure they’re clocking in for work at the right place. No more extra-long drives to headquarters before staff can start their work.
  • Homebase offers a wide range of features beyond time tracking to make your life easier. From employee scheduling tools and hiring and onboarding features to a team communication app, we work hard to offer you a well-rounded, all-in-one experience. And you can sign up for free.