Construction Time Cards: How to Track Work Hours and Boost Productivity

Written by Muhammad Bulbulia

Hi, I’m Muhammad, a senior engineer, consultant, project manager and academic. I’ve spent the past decade working in the construction industry. I’m passionate about developments in the construction sector, and eager to help construction businesses grow through smart time management practices. In this article, I’ll be discussing construction time cards, and why you should use them.


I first heard the phrase time card at a construction site for a mining client. Given the context, I thought that it must be some form of paper timesheet used to record work hours for construction workers. 

I was partially correct — the time cards referred to were digital files linked to employee access control data for the construction site. Each employee would scan in and out of the site using an access card, and corresponding time entries would be logged digitally on the employees file, providing an automated time tracking solution for the site.

I guess this might sound complicated if you don’t know much about time tracking systems. So, let’s take a step back and look at construction time cards, and why they are so important for efficiency and productivity in the construction sector.

Construction worker manually completing paper based time card

This Article Covers:

What are Construction Time Cards?

Construction time cards are documents used to track the work hours of employees on a construction project. Construction time cards are successors of the earlier punch card and timesheet systems. Originally taking the form of physical paper cards, contemporary time cards are largely digital. 

Time cards may include information such as:

  • Employee name or employee number
  • Location of the site
  • Job or project number
  • Type of work performed
  • Start and end times for each day
  • Overtime hours
  • Expenses incurred
  • Employee pay rates
  • Weekly pay
  • Employee signature
  • Supervisor signature

What is the Difference Between a Time Card and Timesheet?

Are you confused about the difference between a time card and timesheet? Well, you’re not alone! The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are some distinctions.

Time cards are used to track the number of hours an employee works. Timesheets do the same, however they also track employee time across different tasks and projects. 

In the past, this difference may have been more apparent due to the manual, paper-based nature of time cards, timesheets and payroll processes. Today, modern digital time tracking systems are capable of capturing a wealth of employee time tracking information, processing and presenting it however you like.

So, in a modern digitized context (and in the context of this article), time cards and timesheets are considered to be synonymous.

Should Construction Work Hours be Tracked?

I believe that construction work hours should be tracked. The construction industry has so many complex projects and tight deadlines! Here’s why time tracking is vital for construction:

  • Work hour tracking ensures fair and transparent pay.
  • Employee time tracking aids in assessing employee productivity and making changes to boost efficiency.
  • Time records can be used to facilitate project management, help to meet deadlines and eliminate unnecessary project delays.

What are Different Types of Construction Time Cards?

Time cards come in different formats. Here’s a look at the most common types used in the construction industry.

Paper Time Cards

The old-school method of tracking work hours is none other than paper time cards. These are physical cards where employees jot down their start and end times each day. While they may seem outdated, some construction companies still rely on these due to simplicity and their low barrier to entry. You simply print time card templates, and hand them over to your employees for work hour tracking. Supervisors review and ‘rubber stamp’ the time cards, before sending them for payroll processing.

Excel or Spreadsheet Templates

If you prefer a more organized approach, Excel or other spreadsheet templates could be a great choice. Time records are entered and stored digitally, making them easily searchable, editable, and more resistant to errors than paper time cards. 

Our time card calculator is a great example of this format.

Mobile or Digital Time Card Applications

The modern and effective way to manage construction work hours is through mobile or digital time card apps. These cloud-based tools offer a plethora of features such as real-time tracking, live-location GPS tracking, geofencing, biometric access control and so many more. These features help to ensure accurate time tracking records, reduce time theft and boost productivity.

What are the Benefits of Using Construction Time Cards?

Modern construction time cards offer a wealth of benefits. From precise work hour tracking to simplified payroll processing, implementing digital time card systems can transform the way your business operates.

Accurate Tracking of Work Hours

One of the main benefits of construction time cards is the ability to accurately track work hours, for individuals workers and across construction teams. You won’t have to rely on estimates or guesswork any longer. Accurate employee time tracking means you can:

  • Get a clear picture of the amount of labor and man hours dedicated to a project.
  • Monitor employee and team performance levels.
  • Plan and price for future projects confidently.

Elimination of Manual Calculations

Manual calculations risk errors, and digital construction time cards eliminate this issue. Automating the timekeeping process avoids:

  • Miscalculations in employee work hours.
  • Discrepancies in payroll or PTO and leave balances.
  • Over or under-estimations in project costing.

Enhanced Project Management and Scheduling

By giving a clear view of work hours for a project, construction time cards support project management and scheduling. Paired with a modern time tracking system, they allow construction managers to:

  • Allocate resources more efficiently.
  • Monitor project progress in real time.
  • Adjust schedules based on progress and actual work hours.

Easy Payroll Processing

Lastly, time cards simplify payroll processing by automating the process using reliable data. By integrating digital construction time cards with accounting systems, weekly or monthly payroll is:

Construction time cards are more than just a tool, they represent a step towards efficient and productive operation in the construction industry.

How to Choose the Right Construction Time Card System

Selecting the best construction time card system for your team can be a daunting task, but breaking down the selection process into key consideration points can help. Remember, the goal is to simplify work hours tracking and boost your team’s productivity.

Consider the specific needs of your construction projects

Begin by evaluating the specific demands of your construction projects. Are you dealing with large-scale projects spanning months or shorter ones completed within a week? Consider aspects like:

  • Size and duration of the projects.
  • Number of employees involved.
  • The complexity of construction tasks and activities.

Evaluate ease of use and accessibility

The construction time card system you adopt should be user-friendly and easily accessible. Construction workers often operate in harsh and remote environments with limited support, and a complex system may be difficult to operate. Essential aspects to consider include:

  • Can it be used on a mobile device?
  • Is it user-friendly?
  • Can non tech savvy workers grasp it quickly?

Look for features that enhance productivity

A construction time card system isn’t just about tracking work hours. It should also boost productivity. Key features to look for include:

  • Real-time updates on work progress
  • Monitoring of task progress and completion
  • Live GPS location tracking
  • Geofencing
  • Automated reminders
  • Offline capabilities

Consider integration capabilities with other construction software

Assess whether the system can be integrated with other software you use for managing your construction projects, payroll and HR. This will ensure a seamless workflow and less time wasted on manual entry or data transfer between platforms.

Next, let’s take a look at implementing a construction time card system.

How to Implement Construction Time Cards Successfully

Construction time cards are a key tool to increase efficiency and productivity in your construction company. Embracing a new time management system may seem daunting; however, with the following steps, you can implement a new time card system seamlessly.

Train and educate employees on how to use the time card system

A new system is worth very little if employees don’t know how to use it. Get all workers on board with comprehensive training sessions. Ensue that all construction crews, including remote and field workers are included. Inform employees regarding:

  • What a time card is and why it’s essential.
  • How to use the new time card system.
  • The importance of accurate and timeous reporting.

Set clear expectations and guidelines for time card submission

Understanding the importance of time cards is one thing, but submitting them efficiently and accurately is another matter. You should clearly define:

  • When and how often time cards need to be submitted.
  • Consequences of late or inaccurate submissions.
  • Necessary documentation or detail included in each time card.

Monitor and review time card data regularly

Regular review of construction time cards will help you manage work hours and productivity. The review step can be automated as well! Implement a systematic approach to:

  • Check if time cards are submitted on time.
  • Verify if the reported hours align with the project schedules.
  • Identify any irregularities or outliers.

Address and resolve any issues or discrepancies

No system is perfect, and discrepancies with your construction time card system may occur. It is important to:

  • Openly communicate with workers  regarding any issues or discrepancies.
  • Work on resolutions together.
  • Improve the system to avoid future discrepancies.

Implementing these steps will streamline your new construction time tracking process, ensuring maximum productivity while minimizing mistakes and oversights.

What are Challenges with Construction Time Cards?

It’s normal to face obstacles when implementing a construction time card system. Here are some setbacks you might encounter and how to overcome them.

Resistance From Employees

Often, employees may resist the implementation of new systems – it’s human nature to be resistant to change. However, explaining the benefits can help ease employees during the transition.

  • Discuss how time cards will provide fairness and transparency across the workforce.
  • Emphasize the streamlined process, moving away from manual or spreadsheet systems, and reducing errors and the administrative burden.
  • Provide adequate training and ongoing support to bolster employer engagement and confidence.

Technical Difficulties or System Glitches

Despite being incredibly helpful, technology can present its share of challenges — system errors, devices malfunctioning, software glitches and loss of connectivity, to name a few. Partnering with a trusted technology provider with great customer support will help mitigate these issues. Time tracking solutions which offer offline capabilities are advantageous, particularly for the construction industry.

Processing and Analyzing Large Amounts of Data

Adopting construction time card systems will generate vast quantities of data. Leveraging this data through analytics can provide meaningful insights and reports, which can be used to manage construction projects and enable strategic decision-making. Certain time tracking software automates these processes. If not, hiring a data specialist or providing training in data management to your team will be beneficial.

Integrating Construction Time Cards with Other Construction Management Tools

Keeping up with the demands of construction management requires a seamless blend of several tools. A key component to consider is integrating your time card system with other critical software.

Integration with Project Management Software

Project management software serves as a project’s nerve center, managing tasks, resources, milestones and deadlines. Integrating construction time cards with project management software allows for real-time tracking of man-hours against tasks. This provides clear insights into worker productivity and the timeline of project completion.

Integration with Payroll Systems

Integrating time card and payroll systems enables an automated, accurate, and hassle-free payroll process. It directly correlates hours worked with salary payments, eliminating manual data entry and reducing chances of payroll errors. What’s more, time tracking software that manages break time, PTO and leave requests allows for robust payroll capabilities.

Integration with Accounting Software

Merging construction time cards with your project and company accounting software streamlines project financials. Monitoring the hours worked on specific tasks equips you with the data needed for precise project and labor cost calculations. Ultimately, this leads to more accurate job costing and improved financial forecasts.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the advantages of construction time cards, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from implementing these systems on your construction sites.

Remember that an organized and disciplined work crew is a foundation to not only meet project deadlines, but surpass client expectations. Try out time tracking systems for your construction workers, and you’ll observe a seismic shift in efficiency.

In essence, utilizing time cards could be a game-changer for your construction business!

If you’d like to learn more about time tracking in the construction industry, have a look at the articles below:

Time and Attendance Tracking in the US Construction Industry

A Tech CEO’s Top 10 Construction Time Card Calculators

The 6 Best Construction Time Tracking Apps