time tracking remote employees

Is Time Tracking Your Remote Employees Counter-Productive?

There are many conflicting opinions concerning time tracking remote employees.

Some think that the benefits you get are invaluable, while others claim that time tracking remote employees can not only be counter-productive and stressful, but that it can also invade the privacy of your workers.

So, what is the truth?

Actually, it all depends on how you’re using your time-tracking software.

In this article, we’ll go over the positive and negative sides of time tracking and explain how to implement this system in a way that will benefit your business and your employees.

The Benefits of Time Tracking

Many employers who use time tracking software think of it as an effective way to ensure that their remote employees are being productive during their working hours.

Good software will allow you to choose whether you want to use an automatic tracker or let your employees create entries manually.

Depending on the software, a time-tracking tool can also:

  • Keep track of hours per task, so that you can easily see which tasks are going over budget and which tasks are behind schedule.
  • Track hours per project, so that you can assess the overall progress and see the big picture.
  • Provide feedback for your employees – they will be able to see which activities take up most of their time, the areas where they excel, and the areas where they could improve.
  • Some time-tracking systems have built-in tools for invoicing, billing, and tracking expenses.

Sounds great, right?

Well, yes. Time tracking software can be very beneficial if implemented properly.

If not, it can cause a lack of trust, decreased productivity, and additional stress.

time tracking software

The Negative Sides of Time Tracking

The negative effects of time tracking usually appear when managers don’t know how to effectively monitor and assess the productivity of their remote workers.

Tracking your employees’ hours can be tricky since it influences the way your employees perceive their work.

Some tools offer app and URL tracking and even allow you to monitor your employees’ desktops and capture screenshots every few minutes.

However, if you want good performance, your workers need to feel relaxed, and that won’t happen if they feel like they’re constantly being watched.

One of the key reasons why people choose to work remotely is the flexibility that remote work offers. Having someone monitoring them throughout the workday allows less freedom.

Strict time tracking will make your workers feel like you don’t trust them to do their job properly, and in turn, they will be less motivated.

That’s why you need to find a way to monitor progress without micromanaging.

If you use the tool solely to point out the mistakes of your employees, you are not using it right. Time-tracking software should improve productivity, not make your workers feel stressed or inadequate. 

Ironically, many managers don’t realize that they are wasting even more time trying to track every detail of their employees’ workday.

Why Are You Using Time Tracking?

Before implementing a time-tracking system, you must have a clear idea of why you are doing it.

Are you trying to understand who your key employees are? Do you want to see how much time is spent on tasks and create estimates and budgets for similar tasks in the future? Do you want to anticipate and avoid bottlenecks?

If you are time tracking without actually evaluating the data, then the whole system is pointless.

Similarly, if you are only using the system to micromanage your employees, time tracking won’t solve any of your problems.

Make sure you are using the tool for the right purposes.

You also have to be open with your employees. Be clear about your plans to implement tracking, what data you’ll collect, and for which purpose. 

If you’re not upfront about using the system from the very beginning of your onboarding process, it will undermine the trust between you and your employees and result in a higher turnover rate.

If you and your employees both have clear goals and a clear understanding of using time tracking, you can get valuable insight on how to improve your productivity.

Which Software to Use?

Not every time tracking software is simple and easy to use. If your employees are struggling with using the tool every day, you will lose more time than you save.

Choosing a software also depends on the size and the type of your business. 

Complex systems that provide in-depth information about your workflow can be very expensive. If you don’t need, for example, a feature for converting multiple currencies, you should opt for a more affordable plan that suits you the best.

Luckily, many of the most popular time tracking tools offer a free trial – if it is your first time using such software and you want to see if it is the right fit for you, you don’t have to risk spending any money.

One of the best time tracking tools is Toggl. It offers a solid free version with all the basic features, and it is very simple and easy to use. You can also check this list to find some of the best time tracking tools.

using time tracking tool

In conclusion, time tracking won’t be counter-productive if you find the right way to implement the system in your business. 

Use the data to optimize your processes and track tasks, but don’t micromanage your employees. 

Remote work demands a higher level of flexibility, so make sure to use the system in a way that won’t undermine your relationship with your employees.

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