Physically locating your workforce may seem trivial, but if you want the yield train to run on time, you better track where your conductors are at. For an example, look no further than FedEx and UPS. These companies were two of the earliest adopters of real-time GPS software to not only track where their trucks were in the world but also how fast they were going, and what routes were the fastest and most reliable. GPS software allowed them to offer rewards programs to the most safe and efficient drivers.
The concept of location tracking employees has great potential outside of the delivery industry as well. Understanding and charting employee work paths, travel behavior and routing can benefit nearly any routine-based task. Salespeople, medical professionals, military personnel, athletes and even food service staff all have the potential to improve efficiency through real-time GPS tracking. Beyond potential, the technological means to utilize this data comes in many different builds and applications.
Short of installing a LoJack on an employee’s belt, gadgets like the coin-sized Trackr ($30), Tile ($25) or Chipolo ($25) can be attached to keychains, stored in computer cases or wallets and act as a beacon to users. Providing auditory or mapped-based locating, these non-invasive dongles allow companies and employees to manage geo-location of important items and people when necessary but be stored away for future use when off the clock or simply not needed.
Now, for employees who work primarily in the field or have the tendency to work off the clock, workforce location can require a more embedded solution. For these needs, applications like Apple Find my iPhone, Simple In/Out and Xora’s SmartStreet offer a wide range of possibilities. The free tool of Find My iPhone offers the simple solution of location and locking a device. Starting at $10 per month for 10 users, Simple In/Out offers location tracking but also team communication, scheduling and cross-user data analysis. And for companywide solutions, Xora covers every remote data solution you can think of from location tracking and project progress to mileage and data security.
As helpful as these tools can be, there are ethical and legal elements to consider. Xora has been the focus of a large lawsuit over employee privacy rights. So, before you strap your staff with GPS beacons, evaluate if the benefits of productivity are worth dampening employee satisfaction and potential litigation. ♦
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.
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