Employee GPS Tracking: How Does It Work? 

It is generally legal for employers to track company-owned vehicles and assets. Learn how employee GPS tracking works in this helpful guide.
How GPS tracking works
Time Tracking Fundamentals
Understanding Labor Laws
GPS Tracking
Tracking More Than Time
Time Tracking Benefits
Choosing A System
Implementing A System
Time Tracking Fundamentals
Understanding Labor Laws
GPS Tracking
Tracking More Than Time
Time Tracking Benefits
Choosing A System
Implementing A System

Track Employee Hours & Locations With Workyard

Employee GPS tracking has quickly become an invaluable solution for companies to track their fleets and streamline their overall organizational efficiency. To see whether or not this solution can benefit your company, this article offers a concise-yet-comprehensive understanding of this technology, its functionality, benefits, and the challenges and ethical implications associated with its use.

We will begin by outlining the core aspects of this technology and its various applications. Next, we will delve into the inner workings of GPS tracking, then explore how employee GPS tracking works and the advantages and potential concerns it presents for companies. Finally, we will provide practical guidance for businesses considering implementing employee GPS tracking solutions, enabling informed decision-making.

What is GPS?

The Global Positioning System, also known as GPS, is a satellite navigation system that enables users to determine their precise location, speed, and time, anywhere on Earth. It was created by the United States Department of Defense for military purposes, but since then, GPS has become an essential tool for civilian use.

The entire system comprises a network of 30+ satellites that are in orbit around the Earth. These satellites consistently send radio signals containing their position and time information. From there, GPS receivers on the ground, such as those found in smartphones or navigation devices, pick up these signals and use a process called trilateration to determine the receiver’s location. 

By measuring how long it takes for the radio signals to travel from the satellite to the receiver and knowing the speed at which the signals travel, the receiver can calculate its distance from each satellite. Using signals from at least four satellites, a GPS receiver can accurately calculate its position in three dimensions (latitude, longitude, and altitude).

How Employee GPS Tracking Works

Employee GPS tracking uses GPS technology to monitor the location and movements of employees during their work hours, offering significant benefits to businesses with mobile workforces, such as delivery services, field technicians, or sales representatives. This system is crucial in enhancing efficiency, productivity, and safety while providing valuable insights into operations.

The process begins with employees carrying GPS-enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or dedicated GPS trackers, during work hours, which determine their precise location by receiving signals from GPS satellites. 

The devices then transmit location data, including latitude, longitude, time, and sometimes speed, to a central server or cloud-based system regularly. This collected data is processed and visualized through specialized software or web-based applications, enabling managers and supervisors to view employees’ real-time locations on a map, monitor their movements, and analyze historical data for trends and patterns.

Courier and logistics services like UPS and FedEx use employee GPS tracking to optimize delivery routes, monitor driver locations, and provide accurate delivery estimates to customers. Similarly, utility companies often employ GPS tracking to dispatch field technicians for maintenance and repair tasks efficiently. 

For remote sales representatives, tracking their movements allows companies to assess their performance, optimize territory assignments, and ensure that client visits are conducted as planned. Overall, employee GPS tracking is a powerful tool for businesses seeking to optimize operations and enhance workforce efficiency and safety.

How Employee GPS Tracking Works on Devices

Employee GPS tracking can be implemented on both company-owned and personal devices like smartphones and computers, but how it operates and the legal considerations vary. 

On company-owned devices, organizations typically pre-install tracking software or employee GPS tracking apps, giving them full control over the device’s usage and allowing them to collect location data and monitor employees’ movements during work hours. Since the company owns the device, implementing GPS tracking on these devices is generally legal as long as employees are clearly informed about the tracking and its purpose.

However, the process becomes more complex when employees use their personal devices for work. In such instances, employees must install the tracking software or app on their devices voluntarily, and employers must obtain explicit consent before tracking their location on personal devices. It’s also crucial to ensure that tracking only occurs during work hours and does not infringe on employees’ privacy outside of their working hours.

The legality of employee GPS tracking depends on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances. However, some general guidelines include informing employees about GPS tracking and its purpose, obtaining consent when tracking personal devices, tracking only during work hours, and complying with local laws and regulations. By adhering to these guidelines and respecting employees’ privacy, businesses can maintain a legally sound GPS tracking system.

How Employee GPS Tracking Works on Vehicles

Companies can implement employee GPS tracking on company-owned and personal vehicles, but the way it works and the legal considerations vary between these categories. In company-owned vehicles, GPS tracking devices are installed to monitor employees’ movements, driving behaviors, and route efficiency during work hours. This is generally considered legal, provided that employees are informed about the tracking and its purpose, as the company owns the vehicle.

However, the process becomes more complex when employees use their personal vehicles for work. For example, employees may be required to voluntarily install a GPS tracking device in their vehicle or use a GPS-enabled smartphone or tablet to share their location data. In such cases, employers must obtain explicit consent from employees before tracking their location on personal vehicles, ensuring that tracking only occurs during work hours and does not infringe on employees’ privacy outside of their working hours.

The legality of employee GPS tracking on vehicles depends on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances. Still, some general guidelines include informing employees about GPS tracking and its purpose, obtaining consent when tracking personal vehicles, tracking only during work hours, and complying with local laws and regulations. Businesses can maintain a legally sound tracking system by adhering to these guidelines and respecting employees’ privacy.

How Employee GPS Tracking Benefits Different Industries

Employee GPS tracking offers a wide range of benefits across various industries, from improving efficiency and productivity to optimizing resource allocation and enhancing customer satisfaction. By leveraging this technology, businesses can gain a competitive edge and streamline their operations. Here are some key examples of how different industries benefit from GPS tracking:

Industry: Transportation and logistics

Use case: Fleet management and route optimization

Example: GPS tracking enables transportation companies to monitor their fleet in real-time, ensuring that vehicles follow the most efficient routes, avoid traffic congestion, and meet delivery deadlines. This helps reduce fuel consumption, improve customer satisfaction, and minimize operational costs. For example, UPS uses GPS tracking and advanced algorithms to optimize delivery routes, saving millions of miles driven annually.

Industry: Construction and field services

Use case: Workforce coordination

Example: Construction companies and field service providers can use GPS tracking to see exactly where crews are in real time and assign them jobs based on client proximity. This improves response times, reduces travel time between jobs, and ensures optimal resource allocation. For instance, a construction company can dispatch the nearest available crew to a job site, ensuring that projects stay on schedule.

Industry: Emergency services

Use case: Rapid response and resource allocation

Example: GPS tracking allows emergency service providers, such as ambulance services, fire departments, and police, to pinpoint the location of their vehicles in real time. This information helps dispatchers send the nearest available units to an emergency, resulting in faster response times and potentially saving lives. An ambulance service or other medical transportation company could use GPS tracking to identify the closest available ambulance to a medical emergency, ensuring that help arrives as quickly as possible.

Industry: Sales and field marketing

Use case: Territory management and performance analysis

Example: Companies with sales representatives and field marketers can use GPS tracking to manage sales territories, optimize travel routes, and analyze employee performance. By monitoring the movements of sales representatives, companies can ensure that client visits are conducted as planned and identify areas where additional support or training may be needed. For example, a pharmaceutical company can use GPS tracking to monitor the visits of its sales representatives to healthcare providers, ensuring that they cover their assigned territories effectively and meet their sales targets.

Industry: Agriculture and farming

Use case: Precision agriculture and resource management

Example: GPS tracking can be used in agriculture to guide farm equipment, such as tractors and combines, with high accuracy. This enables precision agriculture techniques, which optimize the application of fertilizers, pesticides, and water based on the specific needs of individual plots of land. For example, a farmer can use GPS-guided equipment to apply fertilizers in a targeted manner, reducing wastage and environmental impact while maximizing crop yields.

Employee GPS Tracking Laws

In the United States, employee GPS tracking laws are governed through a combination of federal and state laws that address various aspects of the system and its functions rather than a single clear overarching law. One key federal law that provides a legal framework for monitoring employees is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). 

Enacted in 1986, the ECPA is designed to protect the privacy of electronic communications and consists of two primary components: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act. Under the ECPA, employers are generally permitted to monitor employees’ location data when using company-owned devices for work purposes, provided they meet certain conditions. 

For instance, employers should obtain consent from employees, have a legitimate business purpose for tracking, and respect employees’ reasonable expectation of privacy by tracking only during work hours. It’s important to note that individual states may have their laws and regulations regarding employee GPS tracking, which may impose additional requirements or restrictions.

How To Get Employees Onboard With GPS Tracking

Ensuring employee adoption of GPS tracking requires a well-thought-out approach that addresses potential concerns and highlights the benefits of such technology. Employers can take the following steps to get their employees on board with GPS tracking:

First, companies should clearly explain the purpose and scope of GPS tracking to employees, addressing any concerns or questions they might have. Next, establish an open dialogue and be transparent about the goals and objectives of implementing GPS tracking. 

They should create a clear, written GPS tracking policy outlining the reasons for tracking, how the data will be used (and how much data will be used), and the privacy protections in place for employees. They should also make sure to obtain employee consent before implementing tracking.

After that, companies should provide training on the use of GPS tracking devices and software. Then, offer ongoing support to help employees understand and adapt to the new system. Companies should also communicate the advantages of GPS tracking to employees, including:

  • Improved productivity: GPS tracking can help optimize routes, reduce travel time between jobs, and ensure employees are focused on work-related tasks.
  • Reduced labor costs and accurate payroll: By tracking work hours more accurately, employers can reduce labor costs, and employees can trust that their payroll is correct.
  • Accurate mileage reimbursements: GPS tracking allows for precise mileage records, ensuring fair and accurate mileage reimbursements for employees who use their vehicles for work.
  • Enhanced safety: Monitoring employees’ driving habits can identify unsafe behaviors, and real-time tracking can be useful in emergencies, helping to protect employees.
  • Increased efficiency: GPS tracking allows for better resource allocation, enabling employers to assign tasks based on employee proximity, reducing wasted time, and increasing overall efficiency.
  • Enhanced accountability: Employee GPS tracking encourages employees to be more accountable for their time and actions, leading to a more responsible and dedicated workforce.
  • Reducing labor disputes: Accurate GPS tracking records can help resolve disputes related to work hours, overtime, and travel time, fostering a more harmonious work environment.

By implementing these steps and effectively communicating the benefits of GPS tracking, employers can ensure employee adoption and create a positive experience for everyone involved.

Best Employee GPS Tracking Software & Hardware

The best employee GPS tracking solution involves a combination of user-friendly software and reliable hardware. When selecting a GPS tracking system, it’s crucial to consider its ease of use, the features it offers, and the support provided by the company.

Employee GPS Tracking Apps

Employee GPS tracking apps are often the best option for many businesses because they offer a simple and efficient way for employees to track their time and location. These apps can be installed on smartphones, making them easily accessible and cost-effective. Additionally, they often come with a suite of features, such as geofencing, real-time location tracking, and reporting tools, which can be tailored to the specific needs of each organization.

If you want to ensure buy-in and adoption from your team, look for a GPS time clock app that’s simple and easy for employees to use and understand. If you’re worried about the implementation process, partner with a company like Workyard that offers helpful customer support, such as online resources, phone support, or email assistance. This can be particularly beneficial if you encounter any issues or have questions while using the app. Best of all, Workyard can be quickly implemented and requires minimal crew training.

Equipment GPS Tracking Devices

Construction equipment GPS trackers are compact gadgets that pinpoint the exact location of assets and machinery. 

One exceptional example is CloudHawks GPS location tracker, the toughest tracker on the market built for harsh environments, reliability, and precision tracking of construction assets.

CloudHawk’s pocket-sized GPS trackers can be easily hidden in enclosed spaces without compromising their ability to track. The long-lasting built-in battery ensures the trackers keep working even if the power is disconnected, while the lack of external antenna protects the device from tampering and ensures a connection is maintained.

With such advanced technology, CloudHawk trackers can maintain a GPS connection and deliver updates in weak signal areas where other solutions can’t.

Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software is crucial in optimizing operations, reducing costs, and improving the efficiency of businesses that rely on vehicle fleets. These solutions often combine GPS tracking, dash cameras, and field service management tools to oversee fleet activities comprehensively.

SmartFleet USA is a prime example of an advanced fleet management system that offers a seamless blend of user-friendly GPS tracking, dash cameras, and field service management solutions. Their plug-n-play and hard-wired GPS tracking devices are designed for hassle-free installation, plugging directly into a vehicle’s OBD-II port without the need for additional crew training. Once installed, the GPS tracking begins instantly, sending customizable notifications regarding vehicle speed, idling, off-hours, and driver behavior. In addition, thanks to its internal battery, the system continues to function even if the plug-and-play device is unplugged.

The best employee GPS tracking solution should be easy to use, feature-rich, and supported by a company prioritizing customer service. Employee GPS tracking apps, such as Workyard, fulfill these criteria by providing a user-friendly interface and comprehensive customer support, ensuring a smooth implementation process and encouraging employee adoption.

Get Workyard Today

In conclusion, implementing employee GPS tracking solutions, such as Workyard, can significantly enhance productivity, safety, and efficiency within various industries. Furthermore, employers can successfully integrate GPS tracking into their operations by understanding how GPS technology works and adhering to relevant laws and regulations. 

When selecting the best solution, consider user-friendly employee GPS tracking apps like Workyard, which prioritizes ease of use and offers comprehensive customer support, ensuring a smooth implementation process and encouraging employee adoption. Implementing the right GPS tracking system can ultimately optimize resource allocation, improve accountability, and drive business success.

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