management | 5 mins read

Different Types of Time clocks Which is Best for Your Business?

different types of time clocks which is best for your business
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Time clocks are time tracking applications used by all types of businesses to track employee time and attendance. The clock collects this data from employee punches, as well as with the time spent to complete tasks while at work.

Management also utilizes time clocks to monitor which employees are currently present at work and which are not.

It is a great and easy way to track how time is being used. The not so easy part is learning about the different types of time clocks on the market, differentiating their features, and then determining which is the best solution is best for your business.

Here are the various forms of employee time clocks you can implement into your operations systems today.

Biometric Time clock

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A biometric clock is a hardware device that uses biometric data like fingerprints, palm-prints, facial recognition, or iris scans to confirm an employee's identity.

Because this type of time clock is so advanced, it can also be used for security purposes and placed at an entry point, like to the back of house, only permitting authorized employees to enter the designated area.

Biometric time clocks are simple to set up and easy to operate.

You don't need passwords to use the software and it's straightforward to use, so there is really no need for tech support.

This type of time clock also protects businesses from time theft, like buddy punching. Buddy punching is when present employees help their friends/coworkers clock in for work, even though that friend/coworker is not, in fact, present to work.

A biometric time clock prevents buddy punching, because the technology ensures that only each individual can clock in for themselves because of the biometric data that needs to be collected upon clocking in and clocking out.

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Web-based Time clock

Web-based time clocks allow the user to access clock-in features through a web browser on a computer. Employees can clock in from any computer by logging in with their unique login credentials through a secure web page.

After logging in, they have access to enter starting and ending times of their work for the day. Employees can also log their start and end times during unpaid breaks, like the lunch hour.

They are easily accessible and provide mobility options for distant workers. Web clocks are very accessible because employees working from a remote location can access the application from any connected computer.

They are affordable, which is great for small businesses or new businesses just starting out.

The software is cloud-based and can be accessed over the web. Cloud-based web clocks provide central oversight, which means that employees can log in from almost anywhere. In addition, managers can also view the logged data from a central login from anywhere, as well.

Proximity Time clock

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This type of time clock uses an activation device like a swipe card or FOB.

Each employee is assigned their own personal swipe card or FOB, which is to be used upon clocking in and clocking out.

The data that is collected when either the card is swiped or the FOB is scanned also identifies the employee's identity, along with all of the time punch logs into the system.


  • They are easy to use and the process for using both, card or FOB, is quick. Proximity time clocks won't hold up the line during rush hour, jeopardizing employees' clock-in times.
  • This type of clock is highly accurate because the software records the data by physical proximity to a unique device, meaning an individual would have to be within close proximity to clock in, so fraudulent punches would be impossible.
  • They are easy to set up. Proximity time clocks can be set up in multiple locations with a centralized management system.
  • They offer a high level of security. Cards are unique to each employee, and employers can immediately deactivate a card if it gets lost or misplaced. Deactivated cards cannot log into the system, which to a great extent, makes buddy punching or any other fraudulent activity difficult to achieve.
  • There is still a potential for buddy punching. Cards and fobs can be passed along to other employees, which offer a quick way to punch in for a friend/coworker.
  • The cards and FOBs could be easily misplaced. When employees lose or forget their card at home, the system will not work. Card loss incurs an additional expense that many companies pass on to the employee.

Card Swipe Time clock

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Card-swipe clocks are similar to the proximity-based time clock. This type of time clock uses magnetic swipe cards, similar to a credit card, that allow employees to clock in and clock out. Employees use their unique cards to access the clock.


  • They are easy to use and are convenient, as the swipe cards can double as a badge and can be easily carried in a wallet or purse.
  • They assure security and provide accurate clock in and clock out data.
  • Just like the proximity cards, misplaced or lost cards can lead to the process of replacing the card and manually logging the punch times, which can be a hassle.
  • Cards can become faulty once the magnetic strips become dirty, damaged, or worn.

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Keycode Time Clock

Keycode time clocks are clocks that require a unique PIN number (four or six-digit number) to clock in and clock out.


  • They are great options for security improvement.
  • Employers won't have to worry about remembering to have their swipe cards present at all times.
  • They are cost-effective, and unlike the swipe card, nothing needs to be replaced.
  • When employees forget their PIN, technical support may need to be contacted to assign a new PIN number to that employee, which could be a process.
  • They can be a little slower than using cards. If you have large workgroups, the system will slow down the line during shift changes because employees have to wait to input their information before beginning work.

Mobile Time Clock

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The mobile time clock is a fast-growing area of workforce management. It is a software solution for employee clocks that run on a mobile device, like a smartphone and tablet. Good mobile time clocks can integrate with a GPS system for location-specific tracking.


  • They are inexpensive and easy to use. Mobile time clocks are the most inexpensive software-only solution to time tracking.
  • Mobile time clocks are the most accessible of all the time clock types. Employees are not tied to a physical hardware location and can use their smartphones to log into the system from anywhere and track time. Employers can access reports and approve time cards from anywhere.
  • With the GPS feature, employers are able to confirm the locations of employees, which prevents fraudulent clock-in times. This is perfect for a restaurant business making it easier to track employees who are out on delivery or employees working an offsite catering event.

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