The Dos and Don'ts of Monitoring Employee Office Attendance

In the modern workplace landscape, the dynamics of office attendance have undergone significant transformations. The traditional 9-to-5 model is no longer the sole framework governing how, when, and where employees fulfill their professional duties. As organizations adapt to the hybrid working model, the debate surrounding the necessity of office attendance has become inescapable.


  • This article delves into the intricacies of office attendance, exploring its necessity, the factors influencing it, and most importantly, the dos and don'ts of monitoring employee attendance.
  • Attendance norms are being reshaped by the reevaluation of the traditional 9-to-5 model. The rise of flexible working arrangements and the acceptance of remote work options have become significant influencers.
  • In the realm of monitoring, it is crucial not to mistake office attendance for productivity. Additionally, organizations should steer clear of micromanaging and excessive surveillance, fostering an environment of trust. Transparency in communication about monitoring processes and goals is essential. Evaluating employees based on performance metrics, not just attendance, is a recommended practice. 
  • Leveraging automated systems, such as YAROOMS, streamlines the monitoring process efficiently.
  • Crafting a healthy office attendance policy involves evaluating industry trends, fostering a conducive office environment, respecting individual circumstances, addressing logistical concerns, and leveraging technology for streamlined attendance tracking. The aim is to strike a balance between physical presence and the evolving needs of the modern workforce.

What Is Office Attendance?

Office attendance refers to the physical presence of employees in a designated workplace during specified working hours. Historically, it has been the primary metric used to gauge an employee's commitment, productivity, and adherence to the traditional work structure. Traditional office attendance involves employees reporting to a central office location and adhering to a fixed schedule.

employees working from the office

Is Office Attendance Necessary in a Modern Workplace?

The advent of technology and changing work dynamics have led to a reevaluation of the necessity of office attendance. Although it’s estimated that, by the end of 2024, almost 90% of companies will return to the office at least part of the time, employees and companies don’t seem to agree on how many days workers should spend in the office. 

In fact, most organizations have had to deal with significant employee pushback around this - and some are getting desperate. Salesforce, for example, began offering $10 donations to charity for each day workers are in the office. In August, Meta informed employees that their badge data would be reviewed to assess whether they’re meeting in-office requirements, with repeated violations resulting in disciplinary action. Other employers, including GoogleAmazon, and JPMorgan Chase, have implemented similar measures to enforce RTO policies.

However, employers will need to be cautious about this, since 7 in 10 have had employees quit because they did not want to be monitored. Cherry on top, organizations will have to acknowledge that the value of an employee's contributions extends beyond their physical presence in the office and be transparent about how the data resulting from monitoring employee office attendance will be utilized to improve workplace conditions and dynamics, and not as a method of oppression.

Factors Influencing Office Attendance

Several factors contribute to the evolution of office attendance norms, for example:

Traditional Office Hours and the 9-To-5 Work Model

The traditional 9-to-5 work model, once considered the gold standard, is undergoing scrutiny in the modern workplace. While providing routine and coordination benefits, its rigidity - commute challenges, work-life balance issues, and assumptions about productivity during fixed hours do not align with the diverse needs and preferences of today's workforce. Businesses need to reevaluate the role of physical presence by recognizing that productivity transcends conventional timeframes, and learn to adapt to changing work trends and employee expectations.

The Rise of Flexible Working Arrangements and Remote Work Options

The shift towards flexible working arrangements and remote work has gained momentum. New research from Gallup finds that 8 out of 10 CHROs from Fortune 500 companies have no plans to decrease remote work flexibility in the upcoming year. This aligns with employee expectations as well: 9 out of 10 remote-capable employees prefer some remote work flexibility, with the majority preferring hybrid work, and, thus, transforming how office attendance is looked at today.

The Influence of Different Industries on Office Attendance Policies

Different industries have varying requirements and expectations regarding office attendance. While certain sectors necessitate a physical presence for collaborative projects and client interactions, others, particularly those in the tech industry, have embraced remote work as a standard practice. Understanding industry-specific needs is crucial when formulating office attendance policies.

The Dos and Don’ts of Monitoring Employee Office Attendance

Navigating the nuances of monitoring employee attendance requires a balanced approach. Here are the dos and don'ts to guide organizations in establishing effective attendance policies:

The Don’ts

Don’t Mistake Office Attendance for Productivity

Mistaking office attendance for productivity is a common pitfall that organizations should avoid when monitoring employee performance. While physical presence in the office is a measurable and easily observable metric, equating it with productivity is a mistake. A research by Harvard Business Review points out that measuring productivity solely through attendance is an outdated approach and that flexible working arrangements, including remote work options, not only enhance employee satisfaction but can also lead to increased productivity due to reduced distractions and more personalized work environments.

Mistakenly equating attendance with productivity can foster a culture of presenteeism. According to Harvard Business Review, presenteeism can have detrimental effects on both individual well-being and organizational performance. “Just because someone is at the office doesn't mean they're actually working. What lawyers have counseled companies on is don't use this as a measure of how well someone is doing on the job or whether they're actually working and putting in a full day” said reporter Chip Cutter in one of Wall Street Journal’s podcasts.

So, organizations should set clear KPIs and regularly communicate performance goals to shift the emphasis from mere attendance to achieving meaningful results.

Don’t Micromanage

In the contemporary work landscape, excessive monitoring solely for the sake of it, involving micromanagement, stringent policies, and undue pressure, has proven counterproductive. Monitoring or surveillance software is implicitly tied to overseers who are bent on compliance and submission. You definitely shouldn’t pursue monitoring as a method of oppression. Such an approach not only hampers employee morale but also detracts from the overall workplace experience.

On the contrary, if you are worried that your employees are wasting time on the clock, talk to them, laying out your expectations and listen to what they are saying. Your employees will be far more productive when they don’t have to worry about you watching their every move and knowing that they are trusted and respected.

Don’t Turn into Big Brother

Monitoring comes with real risk to the companies that pursue it. Surveillance threatens to erode trust between employers and employees. Accenture found that 52% of employees believe that mishandling of data damages trust — and only 30% of the C-suite executives who were polled reported themselves as “confident” that the data would always be used responsibly. Employees who are now subject to new levels of surveillance report being both “incredibly stressed out” by the constant monitoring and also afraid to speak up, a recipe for not only dissatisfaction but also burnout, both of which — ironically — decrease productivity.

“Workers don't like things like this [...] And so we've seen unions, for example, push back on these efforts. At the New York Times, two different unions send a cease and desist letter to company management about this. We've seen workers at Google frustrated by Google's efforts to monitor attendance. And so it really does create this disconnect and it creates a divide between workers and management”, according to Wall Street Journal.

The Dos

Be Transparent with Your Employees about What You’re Monitoring and Why

Part of respecting someone is that you openly and honestly communicate with them. Tell your employees what you’re monitoring and why. Give them the opportunity to offer feedback. Share the results of the monitoring with them and provide a system by which they can appeal decisions about their career influenced by the data collected. Gartner found that only 30% of employees were comfortable with their employer monitoring their email. But in the same study, when an employer shared that they would be monitoring and explained why, more than 50% of workers reported being comfortable with it.

Evaluate Your Employees Based on Performance Metrics

Evaluate employees based on performance and results rather than mere attendance. To do that, choose your metrics carefully by involving all relevant stakeholders. Why? Because applying numbers to things is easy, as is making quick judgments based on numeric scores spit out by a piece of software. This usually leads to ill-formed decisions.

However, if you insist on monitoring employees, make sure what you’re tracking is relevant and necessary. Simply monitoring the quantity of emails written or read, for instance, is not a reliable indicator of productivity. If you want the right metrics, then engage all of the relevant stakeholders in the process to determine those metrics, from hiring managers to supervisors to those who are actually being monitored.

Use Automated Systems

The reality is that there are many time tracking methods – paper, text or email, punch cards, point of sale systems, biometrics, and more. If such methods work for you then that’s fine, but effective management is about ensuring you use all appropriate tools to help your own performance. Since many of these approaches are outdated, overlooking the availability of modern technological solutions can end up having a negative impact on your overall labor costs.

Automated systems can be beneficial because they do most of the work for you. In addition to calculating hours for you, they can reduce the administrative burden on HR and management teams and generate comprehensive reports on employee attendance, providing a clear overview of working hours, patterns, and trends. By automating the tracking process, these systems relieve organizations of the manual effort associated with traditional methods, saving them precious time and also reducing the likelihood of errors, ensuring accurate and reliable attendance data.

Decrease Monitoring When and Where You Can

The impulse to monitor is understandable, especially in these times. But as people return to their offices — and even as some continue to work from home — look for places to pull back monitoring efforts where things are going well. This communicates trust to employees. At the end of the day, your employees are your most valuable assets. Treating them with respect is not only something they deserve — it’s crucial for a company’s retention efforts. If your company does choose to move ahead with surveillance software in this climate, you need to remind yourself that you are not the police and that the key approach is to understand and utilize attendance data to improve workplace dynamics.

woman employee monitoring data

The Benefits of Office Attendance Data

While the debate on office attendance continues, there are tangible benefits to tracking and analyzing attendance data to gain better insights into employees' office interactions, their timings, and the reasons behind their attendance patterns. Leveraging this data presents an opportunity to proactively enhance the workplace experience, thereby fostering a more conducive and engaging work environment.

The YAROOMS platform provides an automated and efficient holistic approach to workplace experience. Besides its robust workplace analytics capabilities designed to empower administrators, including facility managers and HR professionals, it combines tech and data so you can manage your workplace smarter, not harder. 

Among its features, the Presence report allows these administrators to obtain a comprehensive list of individuals present at the office within a specified location on a particular day or timeframe. Additionally, the People report provides valuable insights into metrics such as no-shows, average time to check-in, and the frequency of space bookings for each user. Furthermore, the Space Utilization report furnishes data on metrics like average and maximum space utilization, instances of no-shows, and the total number of bookings within a chosen time frame. 

This wealth of information enables office managers and HR teams not only to track employee presence but also to gain a nuanced understanding of how individuals interact with the workplace. The result is an optimization of office spaces and the creation of work environments that resonate with employees, fostering a positive and productive workplace culture. In essence, YAROOMS provides a holistic approach to enhance the overall office experience by expanding the metrics under observation.

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How to Create a Healthy Office Attendance Policy

Crafting an effective office attendance policy requires a thoughtful approach. Consider the following steps:

Evaluate the Industry Trends

Stay on top of industry trends and benchmarks. Understanding how peer organizations approach office attendance can provide valuable insights and inform your own policies.

Give Employees a Reason to Come to the Office

Create a conducive office environment that encourages collaboration and social interaction. Incorporate elements like comfortable workspaces, amenities, and team-building activities that give employees a reason to choose the office as their workspace.

Respect Individual Employee Circumstances

Acknowledge and respect the individual circumstances of employees. Provide flexibility for those who thrive in a remote work setting while accommodating the needs of those who prefer the office environment.

Consider the Logistics

Address the logistical aspects of attendance, such as commuting challenges and workspace accessibility. Consider implementing flexible scheduling or remote work options to alleviate these concerns.

Evaluate the Long-Term Impact

Regularly assess the long-term impact of your attendance policies. Solicit feedback from employees and adjust policies accordingly to ensure they align with the evolving needs of the workforce.

Leverage Technology

Incorporate technology to streamline attendance tracking and improve overall efficiency… and, most of all, keep it simple! The simpler you can make the tracking process, the easier it will be. If you’re complicating matters with systems that aren’t efficient, you’ll end up spending too much time and money. For example, employees shouldn’t struggle to click in or report time off. If you make it hard for them, they’ll end up deserting the system entirely.

YAROOMS’s user-friendly interface ensures smooth access to attendance data and makes it easy to interpret. YAROOMS enhances attendance tracking by incorporating a multitude of data points, ultimately boosting the effectiveness of your decision-making processes. This data is leveraged to proactively enhance the workplace experience by fostering team collaboration, coordinating activities, and integrating attendance with performance metrics and thus, to create a more dynamic and optimized workplace environment.

Wrapping Up

As the landscape of office attendance is evolving, driven by technological advancements, changing work dynamics, and a heightened focus on employee well-being, organizations must navigate this terrain with sensitivity, balancing the benefits of physical presence with the flexibility demanded by the modern workforce. By adopting a strategic and inclusive approach to attendance monitoring, companies should foster a healthy work environment that prioritizes both productivity and employee satisfaction.


Topics: Hybrid & remote work

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