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If you think you spend too much time checking on your crew, you’re not alone. The latest State of Construction Industry report found that 56% of managers spend an average of 11 hours each week traveling between job sites and checking on employees.
That’s a whopping 564 hours per year, that you could be using to grow your business instead.
Keeping track of the physical location and hours worked by a field team is challenging. That’s why many construction, landscaping, and other mobile team managers are turning to location-based automated solutions such as geofencing to do it for them.
But, if you think your crew has reservations about a geofenced time clock or GPS location tracking app, you’re not alone.
Employees and contractors have significant concerns about using apps that enable you to monitor their location throughout the day.
But they may not be the concerns you expect.
Complaints tend to be more about the GPS battery life implications than the feeling that someone is always watching you.
After all, crews are used to managers showing up to check in throughout the day. GPS location tracking apps just automate this process.
Should your team be concerned about the effects GPS tracking has on a device’s battery life? Will there be issues with phones running out of juice due to geofencing and GPS, leaving your team with no communication methods or way to track their work?
We’ll be explaining all of this. Let’s get started.
Before jumping into an explanation of phone batteries and GPS, let’s first cover the basics of using geofencing apps for distributed teams and mobile workforces.
A geofencing app uses GPS technology to create a virtual barrier around a geographical location. This barrier triggers certain actions anytime a person (and their phone) leaves or enters that location. You may have experienced this already when a company’s app sends you a marketing coupon when you’re near one of their physical stores.
Their concern isn’t wholly unfounded. It has been shown that GPS and geofencing apps do consume battery power throughout the day.
In a recent study, a GPS app depleted battery life by 13% in an area with good signal strength and 38% in an area with weak signal strength.
The two main reasons for this additional battery drain are that the apps must determine location, and then periodically refresh your location.
GPS tracking technology uses satellites to determine a contractor’s location, which is slow in comparison to fiber optics. In an area with good network signal, this usually takes an average of 12-30 seconds. However, in an area with poor signal, this can take up to 12 minutes.
During this time, your employee’s phone is in an active state, consuming battery power, even if their screen is off. That means the longer it takes to find and upload a current location, the more battery the app will drain trying to complete its function.
Geofencing apps refresh an employee’s location at regular intervals to determine when they enter or exit defined areas. This constant refreshing can prevent a phone from entering a prolonged period of sleep, making it unable to conserve battery life.
However, the app must do this periodically to ensure accurate data. So there must be a balance between overworking the processing systems and risking slow or inaccurate tracking data.
Add in any screen time checking the app, weak signal, regular changes in location, and an old battery, and you could have yourself a battery-sapping location-tracking app. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
A well-designed app makes all the difference when it comes to preserving your battery life, even when tracking GPS and enabling geofencing.
Hubstaff is well-suited to the task, without killing battery life, because it’s designed to:
Spend as little time as possible determining an employee’s location; and
Refresh this location as little as possible to be useful while still conserving battery life.
Of course, even with a geofencing app that drains minimal battery life, there are always things your crew can do to save battery life.
These include running the app in the background instead of having it open all the time, ensuring a healthy battery in the first place, checking and limiting other apps running, and enabling battery saving mode.
Let’s look at each one a little closer.
Good geofencing and GPS tracking apps should allow you to run the app in the background, without needing it pulled up in order to work.
Look for a tool that does this to avoid draining battery life and ensure your GPS tracking stays accurate throughout the time you need it to run.
How to run Hubstaff in the background
Step 1: Open your Hubstaff app
Step 2: Begin tracking your time
Step 3: Go back to the home screen
Step 4: Your Hubstaff app is now running in the background
Employee buy-in is crucial for successfully implementing geofenced time tracking into your business, which means you must reassure your team about a major concern: battery life.
Provide assurance about how GPS tracking affects battery life by sharing information and making it accessible, setting up demos and trials, and encouraging feedback.
Explain how GPS tracking works, including the benefits for the business, for them, and the considerations you’ve researched and taken into account.
For example, tell them you sourced a geofencing app that uses minimal battery power compared to similar solutions.
Book a demo and walkthrough of the app with your team so they can learn about the technology, see how it works, and ask any questions they have.
Getting a personal walkthrough gives everyone the chance to ask questions.
Give employees and contractors time to try your geofencing app themselves. This gives them an opportunity to get comfortable with the app, experiment with battery settings, understand their phone’s new charge cycle, and trust what you’re saying.
Education is key for getting employee buy-in. Provide employees with information on how to use the app and how to improve their phone’s battery life and performance.
You can even send them this list of tips for how to extend battery life.
Top tip: your employees can check their battery’s health and what apps consume the most power, via their phone settings:
iOS: Settings > Battery
Android: Settings > General > Battery
Finally, remember that it’s only going to get better.
Apple and Android are constantly updating their operating systems and hardware to improve battery life, and scientists are working hard to create bigger, better, and lighter batteries. The better phone batteries become, the less power geofencing apps will consume, and the less concerns your team will have about GPS battery life.
Until we get there, try to pick a geofencing app that is designed to use the least amount of battery power possible to generate the most accurate employee tracking data possible. Your employees (and business) will thank you.
See the difference when your crew uses Hubstaff to automatically track time and location. Minimize battery impact and get more