Retail Excellence

Mobile Workforce Management: Time Theft and Time Savers in the Field

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After all the planning that goes into retail execution, successful sales and a great return on investment feel like they couldn’t get any better. However, as with all businesses, outstanding results depend on the employees that make them thrive. That being said, few employees are entirely without faults – mistakes are, after all, what define the human condition.

Today we’ll look at some of the temptations that pluck at the bottom line, and those innocent mishaps that that crop up in the modern mobile-enabled workforce – as well as some helpful tools and hints at guiding your employees to higher accountability, transparency and overall success.  

Those Tricky Temptations

Working with experts in all parts of the retail space has revealed a few recurring mobile workforce temptations. Let’s put on our leadership hats to discover the scenarios that might cost your bottom line the most.

Route Padding

Today’s young retail execution staffers may (due to financial pressures) find creative ways to earn a little extra reimbursement without necessarily adding to their workload.

For instance, staffers may take circuitous routes to multiple locations, making a pit-stop along the way. They can then pocket the extra reimbursement from the longer journey. If they are paid hourly as they travel between locations, that means less work gets done throughout the day, as well.

Often these are seen as harmless, minor exaggerations to their workday. Done frequently enough, however, these unnecessary reimbursements and lost hours of productivity add up: in the perceived need for staff, in the reimbursement budget and in timelines for multi-store execution.

Hourly Task Execution Padding 

This perennial issue applies to retail store staffers, mobile merchandisers and beyond.

Some of the padding issues we’ve seen include sluggishness during field execution, audits, spot checks and all variety of display setups. A lack of urgency will make those extra paid minutes add up.

Buddy Punching
Older mobile workforce management systems – time tracking systems, specifically – create an opportunity for “Buddy Punching.”

Not to be confused with fight club, buddy punching occurs when a time recording system can be activated by someone other than the rightful user.

75% of U.S. employers are estimated to suffer $373 million in lost revenue due to this practice.

Paid Non-Work and Shift Extending

Other more well-known sources of padding include non-tracked shift work. This leads to “late starts, early finishes, extended breaks, unauthorized overtime and conducting personal activities at work.”

The flip side of this issue? Early starts and late stops. If this doesn’t add up to overtime, the “extra” time can still put part-time employees into full-time status. If done repeatedly, they could attempt to claim full-time benefits.

Is this issue worth tracking? Well, according to a survey of hourly workers, 43% admitted to “creative accounting” in tracking their hours.

Sources of Unintentional Loss

Temptations like those above can combine with innocent mistakes or employee inefficiencies, as well. What follows are some common, unintentional issues that consume hourly employee time – as well as that of the managers overseeing them. Watch for:

Communication Chokepoints

This includes moments when field teams can’t find supplies, planograms, store layouts, display assembly instructions and more. Remote teams, in particular, stagnate badly when these issues crop up.

Management Efficiency Gaps

Common slowdowns here include: clunky and contradictory scheduling that comes from outdated systems, reporting that takes forever due to systems data isolation, and ineffective tools for distributing work.

Unintentionally Long Routes

Not knowing an area, traffic patterns, better routes or quick ways around scheduled construction can also result in unnecessarily large mileage checks. Additionally, simple oversight from top to bottom can result in zig-zagging across territory that could be navigated in a more efficient way.

The Mobile Workforce Management Solution

Real-time data and systems integration are the keys to eliminating loss in all the ways mentioned above.

When mobile workforce management systems are integrated into an employee’s smartphone, geolocation adds location accountability.

If you then integrate that with mileage tracking, project status and version-controlled task/instruction distribution, you’ve already solved these problems.


  1. Unless your staffers give up their mobile phones – no buddy punching is possible. If they clock in at home, it’s verified with GPS, as is their check-in at the store location.
  2. If a field merchandiser’s location data is centrally available and easily compared with hourly data, both HR and the staff organizer will be able to track creeping payments and hours. This triggers a chance to optimize their route and can be used regardless of why their reimbursement or hours went up.
  3. Real-time project status tracking (on location) will mean you can see who performs best, identify who should train and who should be trained, and immediately spot a spike in task execution time.
  4. Mobile workforce management software also provides communication that goes with employees wherever they go. No more chokepoints during execution, no more scrambling for a paper planogram left at the home office.

Mobile workforce management delivers all of this straight to your laptop and every team member’s smartphone.

To unify every piece of your retail execution program with the platform that gives you total visibility and the tools you need to plan, train, deliver and verify, schedule a demo with Movista today.



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