Don’t want to worry whether your remote workers are doing the hours you’re paying them for? Read on!
Common to every remote business owner is the thought of how to ensure that remote workers are working efficiently and delivering the results you’re paying them for.
Now, this is hard enough in a conventional office when you’re with people day to day, add in being hundreds or thousands of miles apart working remotely and it gets trickier.
Here at JobRack we’re big fans of measuring by results delivered, however, this can be tricky and when allowing employees freedom of working hours sometimes you just don’t want to worry or even think about whether they’re working hard or for the hours you’re paying them for.
What is Time Tracking Software?
Time-tracking software is software that runs on employee computers and ‘tracks’ what they spend their time doing.
This can be as simple as the employee pressing the start/stop on a timer and making a note of what they’ve been working on right up to more in-depth tools that record keyboard/mouse activity and take screenshots at regular intervals of what’s on your employee’s screen.
Now monitoring what your employees doing brings with it a whole heap of trust and privacy questions so it is important to be clear both in your own mind and with your employees, on the reasons for using a tool and how you plan on using the information they provide.
Here at JobRack, many employers have asked us for advice on this topic, so we decided to cover all the pros and cons of time-tracking software. So if you’re still wondering whether you should use it and if it’s a good option for you, sit tight. We’re about to tell you everything you need to know.
Pros of Time Tracking Sofware
Time-tracking software has a lot of pros. Here are the main ones:
Peace of mind
Stop worrying about whether employees are or are not working their hours, using a tool will tell you. Whether you check the reports sent to you by your tool or not the ability to do so if you needed can provide peace of mind and one less thing to worry about as a business owner or manager.
Activity and screen monitoring
Time tracking software (as the term suggests) allows you to track employee time, but it also allows you to track what’s happening on your employees’ computer screens.
Many employers report that tracking the “active” time of employees is a very useful feature showing them how much of the working day they are ‘active’ on their computer.
That’s where screen monitoring comes in handy. Most time-tracking software can take screenshots of users’ screens and deliver them to you for you to review as and when you wish.
That way, you can actually see what your employees are working on.
A fast way to build trust
Most employees want to work hard and do a great job. So for an employer with a new remote worker, when they see reports coming in showing them good activity levels and hours worked, they can have confidence that the employee is working hard too. Coupled with clear results delivered it’s a great combination.
There are many ways you can build trust in your employees – but when it comes to speed, time tracking software works like a charm to demonstrate the hours they’re working.
Save time and money
In most time-tracking software, you have an invoicing feature and a built-in calculator for payroll.
If you have someone who works hourly on your time but doesn’t have a defined number of hours they are supposed to work then this feature can save time and effort in managing payroll for your remote workers.
Yes, timesheets are always a good option. But if you have multiple people on your staff, it can take time to copy all the data from spreadsheets and start calculating.
With time-tracking software, timesheets, invoicing and payroll can be done in a few clicks.
Increase efficiency with time tracking
If you already use a task-management app like Asana, you already know how productive you can be when you have a clear visual on tasks and deadlines.
However, people subconsciously tend to work a lot more efficiently when they have a deadline or someone they’ve committed to.
Try this little exercise:
For one day, say, “I’m going to work for some number of hours.” Start a stopwatch when you start working. It doesn’t have to be right beside you or even on your screen – just knowing that the clock is ticking will immediately boost your productivity.
It’s the same psychological trick that time-tracking software is based on.
When your employees know there’s a commitment or deadline and that somewhere a clock is ticking, they will subconsciously become more productive.
We talked about this with Tope Longe from Time Doctor and he said: “Using a time tracking tool, employees usually discover exactly how to allocate their time which provides a heightened sense of purpose. Purpose increases engagement. Engagement increases productivity.” which, considering facts stated above, makes complete sense.
You can separate the rockstars from the laggards (and know how much tasks are costing you)
When you extract data from time-tracking software, you can see how much time was spent on certain tasks.
Knowing who is falling behind on your time gives you a chance to fix the problem before it gets worse. Do they need training? Are the tasks not clear? Do they need better tools? Or are they just not right for the job?
Being able to identify who is nailing it also gives you a chance to reward that person.
When you have remote workers it’s all too easy to load them up with work and just letting things fly, it’s rare that business owners or managers consider the cost of tasks.
Data from time tracking and task management tools like Asana can really help with this as they highlight time spent on specific tasks enabling you to clearly see where you’re paying for tasks that may not be producing the most value or where there’s a case to invest time or money in automation (we love Zapier for this!!)
This kind of data and insight can be invaluable as you grow your business.
Cons of Time Tracking Software
Whilst there’s some great benefits to using time tracking software there’s some areas you need to think carefully about before jumping in.
Privacy of employees
This is where things get tricky.
As we are in the remote working industry and are assuming that you have a remote team, this issue can be a real concern and should be clearly discussed with your employees.
Your employees use their own computers. Screenshotting them while they work may affect their privacy, and they might not be comfortable with you having a screenshot of their computer.
Almost everyone multi-tasks. Employees might have a Facebook window open, personal email, or online banking, them checking that for a few minutes doesn’t mean they’re a poor worker but it does mean that screenshots could contain personal or sensitive information.
You need to clearly discuss with your employees that whilst they’re working for you and tracking their time the tool will take screenshots. If they don’t want screenshots taken of personal things then they need to stop the clock before doing personal activities.
If your employee is not okay with being monitored, your ability to build trust and motivation can go completely the opposite way. This again needs careful discussion as to your reasons for time tracking software to manage this effectively.
There’s a thing called “Fear of being watched” – and yes, it’s real.
This can actually affect productivity and demotivate your employees. It makes them feel you don’t trust them, even when they are transparent with their intentions. This can increase their frustration level. And when frustration is high, productivity is low.
Always try to get your employee to be honest with you about their thoughts on this issue. Crucially be clear with them on your thoughts on it too.
You know how it is when the software is advertised as being super-simple and user-friendly, but after you buy it you end up overwhelmed because it’s the opposite?
Well, that can also be the case with time-tracking software.
For some of this software, the learning curve is pretty steep, and you might need to dedicate some time to learning the software and making it work for you.
It also uses system resources on your employee’s computers so is also something to bear in mind when selecting a tool.
Final verdict – Should you use it?
The big question is: Should you use time-tracking software?
It depends on how you want to run your business. If you want to have a clear insight into who’s working, when, how much and on what, and at the same time, you want to spare yourself the hassle of timesheets and payroll complications … yes, you should definitely use time-tracking software.
On the other hand, if you think you can focus purely on output and results and build trust with your employees in a different way, there’s no problem with that approach.
Whatever approach you take you should always:
- Have a clear list of tasks or work in a task app like Asana for your employees
- Set clear deadlines
- Schedule calls frequently
- Lay down some basic rules about what is allowed and what is not whilst employees are working
- Ensure your employees are clear on your expectations.
In the end, the main thing is to talk to your employees about time tracking and how you want to run your business.
Top 5 time tracking software products
Now if you decide you do want to try a time tracking tool here are the top 5 time-tracking software tools we believe are the best (and yes, we’ve tried all 5!)
Hubstaff is one of the best (if not the best) time-tracking software for employers who wish to track individuals and remote teams.
You have a limited free plan for solo users, but if you decide to go with the paid plan, it’s only $5 per user.
It can automatically calculate payroll, including automatic payments via PayPal, Payoneer, or Bitwage.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Hubstaff is really simple and easy to understand both for employees and business owners. Enrolment is quick, too.
Hubstaff are working hard to further expand their software with task lists and agile sprint management features coming too.
Here at JobRack we use Hubstaff and are loving it!
Click here to check out Hubstaff and start a free 14-day trial!
2. Time Doctor
Time Doctor helps you track time across your entire team and markets itself specifically as “Time Tracking for Remote Teams”.
You can automatically calculate your payroll based on fixed salaries using hours tracked in Time Doctor, and pay right away using PayPal, Payoneer, TransferWise, or other methods.
The free plan is limited, and after that, it’s $9.99 per user.
Toggl offers a simple time-tracking interface that lets you assign tasks to projects and clients on the fly, including time-saving options that let you create new projects or clients without leaving your dashboard.
They have over 100+ integration options, including Asana, Trello, etc.
It’s beautiful software and very easy to use.
They have a generous free plan, but after that, it’s $9 per user.
Hours starts and stops timers as needed, using a very simple interface.
It also has a helpful Timeline feature that lets you quickly fill in gaps in your time tracking to fully account for your day.
Hours is still young, though, and is only available via its website or an iOS app that doesn’t offer as much coverage as most of the other time-tracker tools.
They have a free plan only for iOS users. For everything other than that, it’s $8 per user.
Timely is best for individuals and teams who specifically want an automatic time tracker.
It’s one of the coolest time trackers because it uses a machine learning system.
Automatic time tracking can be complicated, so here’s how Timely does it:
Timely records all your activity and groups it together based on what you’ve been doing
Then, it suggests labels and tags based on what it thinks you did.
You can accept Timely’s suggestion, manually edit it, or discard the time entry completely.
Now, here’s the coolest part.
Every time you manually edit a time entry, you’re training Timely to improve in the future.
Timely learns from your edits to make more accurate suggestions in the future
It starts from $99 per month with a basic plan, but if you need more features it can go up to $299.
So that’s it, folks.
Now that you know everything about time-tracking software, its pros and cons, and the best tools to use it’s over to you to decide how to move forward.
If you’re thinking that you need or would like a new team member to start tracking their time…. then you’re in the right place!
Here at JobRack, you can find over 7000 high-quality job seekers from Eastern Europe from Developers, Designers, Virtual Assistants, Social media guru’s, Marketing assistants and many many more. Whatever role you need we can help provide awesome, highly educated, hard-working, committed Eastern European team members.