Employee Tracking Gets Makeover with RTLS

February 23, 2017

Employee tracking isn't always affordable. BLE Real time location systems are offering businesses new opportunities at a more reasonable cost than ever before.

Industry leaders agree that BLE will play an increasingly important role in asset tracking, but their capabilities don’t end there. They extend into the workplace and into ordinary offices where managers need better methods for space optimization and employee monitoring.


There are several reasons employers are turning to more powerful and accurate employee monitoring solutions. Poor tracking can lead to:

  • Fraud
  • Tax problems
  • 401k difficulties
  • Lawsuits
  • Incorrect wage distribution

Employee monitoring and smart solution

Optimized employee monitoring and smart solutions can also offer far more capabilities that benefit both managers and employees. Whether it’s booking meeting rooms or powering keyless entry to offices, BLE can save offices and managers a lot of headache.

Besides having an unbeatable cost-to-performance ratio, the perhaps strongest argument for BLE-based RTLS is the ability to use everyday devices like smartphones to determine location. Here’s 3 ways beacons can make employee monitoring easier (and better).

1. Real-time data

Keeping track of staff in real time has several possible applications. Ensuring that employees are at their intended station can be vital to keeping operations safe and avoiding dangerous situations. In hospitality and other industries where clients and visitors are regularly greeted by personnel, knowing where the nearest employee is at the time of need is the difference between an "okay" and a great customer experience.

Similarly, in a time of rapid urbanization, the competition for appropriate work space has increased, and there is a great pressure to more efficiently utilize existing space. Technologies that can improve the use of space without impeding workers have a large potential to save companies real money.

  • Activity-based workspaces
  • Easy scheduling processes
  • Automatic configuration

Founder of beacon solutions provider Space Connect, Matt Pope, notes that companies have already experienced a 30-40% higher usage of meeting rooms, decreasing their overall office costs and making utilities readily accessible for workers.

2. Historical movement

In many industries, companies are required to keep data on services they have provided for the several preceding years. Even when not required, records can prove useful in case of problems or misunderstandings. Now, Bluetooth beacons are being used to automatically and accurately record movements of personnel, cleaners, security, and all other visitors on the premises. By recording the historical movement of employees, employers can record, with complete accuracy, the details of how various tasks have been performed.

Historic data can also be analyzed to help managers understand where:

  • Workers are spending time
  • Bottlenecks occur


3. Proactive alerts

RTLS might be most commonly used to monitor the movement of assets, but it can also monitor a lack thereof. Proactive notifications can alert managers before a situation gets out of hand.

For example, employee movements can be monitored to find unusual behavior. A person staying at a certain location longer than anticipated or diverging from the normal route can be a sign that something is wrong. In both scenarios, operators can be immediately alerted to contact the employee or send support.

Finding the right solution for employee tracking

There are several reasons to use employee monitoring solutions. Some businesses will find value in a comprehensive RTLS system that generate ample data and provide real time overviews. Others may choose to use simple employee monitoring for attendance tracking and similar highly specific goals. More importantly, alerts, real-time and historical data can all be used for multiple purposes. They can optimize office assets, keep spaces secure, or verify working hours. It all depends on how innovative businesses and solution providers put them to use.

Our White Paper on RTLS offers our findings in depth including the role of big data and seven straight-forward steps to implementing a successful RTLS system.

No time? No worries! We carefully organized our paper to help busy managers learn about new possibilities in their particular sector, fast. Download the white paper here.

There are several reasons to use employee monitoring solutions. Some businesses will find value in a comprehensive RTLS system that generates ample data and provides real time overviews. Others may choose to use simple employee monitoring for attendance tracking and similar highly specific goals. More importantly, alerts, real-time and historical data can all be used for multiple purposes. They can optimize office assets, keep spaces secure, or verify working hours. It all depends on how innovative businesses and solution providers put them to use.

Types of personnel tracking tools

To begin exploring popular options, let’s begin by differentiating the two types of employee tracking tools: covert and overt. These two ideas about employee tracking differ drastically.

  • Overt: applications and methods fully known by the employee. The employee may even enter data themselves, and everything is done in the relative open.
  • Covert: On the other hand, covert methods are completely concealed from the employees. This can include a number of methods including in-office spying. We’re not going to cover these methods today. That's another ballgame.
    There are several methods available for overt employee tracking. From video to badges to GPS tracking, employers can have their pick. Let’s compare how they work in contrast to RTLS solutions.
  • Video: One of the more traditional methods, video surveillance can safeguard against a number of potential hazards in a company. What’s happening and who’s doing what can all be easily answered in real-time—if there’s someone watching. This choice of solution has plenty of pros but data generation and automation is not one of them. Given the growing importance (and exciting possibilities!) of the IoT, video will not work alone in most situations.
  • GPS: Yes, GPS is actually incredibly useful in many situations. Specifically, industries or departments where employees are regularly on the go. This kind of tracking allows an employer to be sure the employee is en-route, on time, and making the rounds required on off-premises or far off locations.
  • Spyware and tracking software: What sites did you visit Tuesday afternoon? Tracking software can know that and more. Whether an employer wants to follow keystrokes or just see that an employee has been online, tracking software is all about getting up close and personal with the employee’s every movement.
  • Time tracking: This can be manually entered or automatically logged by software or IDs (like Bluetooth beacons!). The main goal here is to stay on top of employee attendance and any related legal or office issues that could arise in relation to it.
  • Project management: Very similar to above, this is more about safeguarding and promoting quality work in the office. Project management platforms allow employees to regularly log, track, and share their work in an open way that keeps everyone on the same page. It can also be used to illustrate how they use their time and what areas may need improvement.
  • RTLS: Unlike the above, RTLS supports numerous use cases. It’s not about tracking employee keystrokes. It’s not about saying “yes” this person is on time. It’s about creating an atmosphere where technology and data can drive informed changes and choices. RTLS can track employees to safeguard against lawsuits or fraud; however, it can also map where those employees are at any given time. This means they can be located in an instant or even receive an automated data whenever they enter a given area.

Is RTLS-based employee tracking right for you?

Not every company needs a complete RLTS in place. However, given the decreasing costs, such systems are becoming increasingly viable across the board. Simultaneously, businesses are quickly learning the importance of a connected, future-ready solution. The RFID RTLS market (and the RTLS market as a whole) is growing fast. Estimates show it will continue to grow at a CAGR of nearly 43% until 2021.

How it works?

Let’s take it a step further, though. RFID RTLS is not always affordable. These systems, in general, include two key hardwares: tags and readers. The tags send out a signal and the readers receive that signal and send the data back to the relevant databases. Imagine the tag is an employee badge. Every few seconds, that badge sends out a signal that is picked up by the receiver.
The tag and receiver represent a large amount of the cost of an RTLS. Here’s where it gets interesting. Comparing common RFID receivers reveals that they are very expensive. Bluetooth tags, on the other hand, are very affordable. The difference is largely inherent in the technologies themselves.

For example, the popular Fx9500 Fixed RFID Reader from Zebra costs some $1,500—and that’s nowhere close to expensive. In fact, this a rather affordable reader. Active RFID readers can cost between $1,000 and $5,000. The corresponding Bluetooth gateway can cost $100.

“It’s estimated that the total first-year costs for a 1000-unit active RFID real time location system, including software and hardware, can easily reach up to $39,100. The cost of implementing that same system with Bluetooth beacons hovers around $10,890.”

It’s no surprise that an increasing number of solution providers are creating RTLS based on Bluetooth tags.

Think employee tracking and RTLS could help make your business better? We compiled a 31-page white paper on all the best RTLS use cases. Get your copy today for free here.

Hannah Augur

Content writer / tech blogger / geek based in Berlin. Hannah reports on all things tech and has a medium-sized tolerance for buzzwords.

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