Enjoy a visit from the Ghosts of Clocking Past, Present and Future…
In keeping with the festive season in which we find ourselves well and truly immersed, and more than a tiny bit influenced by Spirited, the cracking new Christmas film starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, we thought it would be fun to take a Dickensesque look at clocking in through the ages, and what may lie ahead…
The Ghost of Clocking Past
If we start at the very beginning, we have to go a long, looooong way back – to before 1500BC, in fact, when the Romans started tracking workers’ time using a biometric fingerprint terminal. Ok, it was a sundial. They were definitely ahead of their time but not that far ahead…
Curious segue about the Romans; back then, their soldiers were sometimes paid with salt instead of money, known as a salarium (salt money), which is where, you guessed it, the word salary comes from! That little nugget is bound to impress a family member at some point over the holidays, you’ll see.
Some years later, in 1888, Mr Willard Legrand Bundy of New York started manufacturing the very first clocking-in machines based on his own invention. These simple yet effective manual punch clocks quickly became popular, and by 1898, the company had sold more than 9,000 Bundy Time Recorders.
Meanwhile in the UK, in 1894, Mr Daniel M Cooper invented the Rochester Recorder, which was the world’s first clock card attendance time recorder. It printed accurate clock-in and clock-out times onto a specially designed paper card, which was divided into seven spaces, one for each day, with two columns for In and Out.
Over the following years, as the time clock become increasingly commonplace in the American workplace, the Bundy Manufacturing Company merged with various other companies such as that of Mr Cooper, eventually becoming the International Time Recorder Company (ITR). In New York State in 1911, this business was incorporated as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which was the forerunner of none other than (insert suspenseful dot dot dots…) IBM, or to call it by its proper name, International Business Machines Corporation!
For several decades, clocking in was synonymous with manual punch clocks, which became ubiquitous in workplaces across the United States and United Kingdom, as well as other western countries. Until a quiet whisper of something exciting to come, proved a reality…
Then came a huge plot twist, circa 1978, with the arrival of the spreadsheet. As computers gradually adapted from being exclusively the powerful tool of corporations, they started to enter personal homes and also non-techy companies, forcing them to also become much more user friendly and intuitive to fathom. To cut a very long-winded story short, this led to the need and gap in the market for software – including time tracking software such as digital spreadsheets, which arrived thanks to Mr Richard Mattessich, who made accounting considerably easier for everyone.
The Ghost of Clocking Present
From clocking machines that weighed an absolute ton, to a teeny tiny mobile in your pocket with a smartphone clocking-in app. That’s quite a way we have come. Who would have imagined it?
Now, with cloud-based systems, 5G and smartphones more powerful than anyone could have envisioned in the era of Will Bundy, we find ourselves able to carry around a whole time and attendance system in our pocket. Employees have greater autonomy than ever before, and can track their hours, request holiday time off, record their breaks and more, wherever they are, 24/7.
Employers also have real-time access to valuable business data, enabling them to manage staffing issues, forecast budgets, guarantee accurate payroll calculations and create useful reports almost instantly. And if the way we work hadn’t undergone enough of a paradigm shift, 2020 and the pandemic threw a curved ball no-one could ever have predicted, forcing more people to work from home than at any moment in history.
The way the world worked changed, and it shows no signs of going back to the way things were beforehand. Flexible working – including hybrid or remote work, is here to stay.
The Ghost of Clocking Future
As to where clocking systems are headed, who can say? Who could even hazard a guess? We already have methods as varied as landline clocking to biometric fingerprint readers or facial recognition terminals, as well as the more classic RDIF swipe cards.
So, will we move toward built-in time cards on a microchip implanted into our hand, perhaps? Bah Humbug, you may well say, but can we be so sure?
And while the future of the workforce model is, and, as we have learnt was, in fact, always uncertain, but what we do know is that clocking systems, in whatever form they appear, are here to stay.
Why? Businesses cannot afford not to have a reliable, efficient, employee attendance system in place. It saves countless hours on admin, virtually eliminates human error, and makes companies as cost-efficient and productive as possible.
Haunted by your Ghost of Clocking Past and ready to switch to a cloud-based model? Book yourself a free demo or visit our homepage to find out more about what Employee Attendance Cloud can offer your business.