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Why Construction Companies Are Using GPS Tracking —and What Workers Think About It

More than a third of 1,000 US employees in an independent survey say they have been tracked by GPS on the job. But for workers in the construction industry, that number shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Large-scale (and even some not-so-large-scale) construction projects require a lot of workers and vehicles to transport tools and materials. Add multiple job sites to that equation, and those workers and vehicles multiply too. With so many moving parts (literally), many construction companies are turning to GPS tracking software for help.

There are more than a handful of reasons to employ a GPS tracker for construction and fleet management. Not only does GPS tracking increase employee accountability and help keep workers safe on the job, but it boosts productivity and efficiency on the jobsite. It can even help cut down on paperwork. But your workers might not see it that way. At least, not at first.

Thirty-eight percent of employees who have never been tracked with GPS at work feel negatively about the technology. They worry about being tracked after hours and in their personal time and they know that some of the most popular apps that use GPS (like Facebook) are notorious data hogs. As a result, they resist installing a workplace-required GPS app on their personal devices.

Seeing that privacy, data and battery drain are among employees’ top GPS concerns, proactively addressing these concerns is the key to getting these workers on board with new GPS technology.

Addressing Workers’ Concerns

1. Micromanagement

Management might assume workers are opposed to GPS tracking on the job because they don’t want their supervisors to know what they’re up to throughout the day. Surprisingly, micromanagement is last on the list of their concerns. But that doesn’t mean the concern isn’t there.

Remind workers that GPS tracking exists primarily for their safety and the efficiency of the project. It allows supervisors and foreman to check in on workers across multiple job sites so they can ensure everyone is accounted for in case of an emergency. And when it comes to fleet management, GPS tracking makes it easy for a supervisor to alert an on-the-go worker to a nearby (and last-minute) job — so no job opportunity is ever missed. Additionally, GPS tracking promotes safer driving habits and helps hold workers accountable for their time and schedules.

2. Privacy

If employees are required to install a workplace GPS app on their personal devices or in a vehicle, there are bound to be privacy concerns. According to the same third-party survey, 45 percent of employees who had been tracked with GPS in the past either believed they were being tracked 24/7 or they simply weren’t sure when the tracking started and stopped.

Honor workers’ privacy by selecting a GPS tracking app that respects their personal time. It should only track location when workers are actually on the clock — not when they’re on a break or clocked out for the day, and definitely not 24/7 (it is illegal in all 50 states). Then be up front with workers. Let them know exactly when the GPS app will be tracking their location and when it won’t. It’s always a good idea to talk to employees about GPS tracking before it is turned on. In fact, in some states, failure to do so could result in a hefty fine or even jail time.

3. Data and Battery Drain

Here’s where the data gets a little surprising. While workers have some concerns about micromanagement and privacy, their biggest concern when it comes to installing a workplace GPS app is actually data and battery drain. In fact, 70 percent of those surveyed said they were most concerned the app would force them to pay for data overages or drain their battery.

Before requiring workers to install anything on a personal device or vehicle, do some research. Find out how much data the app will use and have a backup plan in place in case the app does cause employees to pay an overage. Know how much space it will take up on their personal phones too, and show them how to check their battery and data usage by app. Any GPS tracking app or software worth its salt will use minimal amounts of data and battery, and taking the time to educate workers about these features can go a long way.

In every case, taking a proactive approach by addressing potential concerns before employing a GPS tracking system is the key to getting employees on board with the new technology. Once they familiarize themselves with the technology and begin to see the benefits for themselves, they’ll come around. In fact, 54 percent of employees who have been tracked before say it was a positive experience, while only five percent would rather not use GPS tracking again.

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