The following guest post is from OnTheClock’s Dean Mathews
The past couple of years have encouraged businesses to adopt new ways of working and have proven to companies everywhere that hybrid or fully remote teams can be as effective as on-site teams. As more employees experience the benefits of remote work, they become more reluctant to return to the office. A Gallup poll found that 37% of employees who are working remotely are extremely likely to leave their jobs if remote work is no longer an option at their workplace. However, business leaders are often worried about the impact that remote work can have on productivity or accountability. Time tracking is an easy way for businesses to solve these issues.
How Time Tracking Can Help Remote Businesses Be More Efficient and Effective
Use Tracking Data to Evaluate the Performance of Existing Business Processes and Workflows
All businesses rely on an effective set of workflows and processes to ensure continuity and operational efficiency. However, these workflows are not always optimized to produce the best results. Business leaders must collect data on how each process is helping the company reach its goals—but this can be difficult for remote teams that allow employees to use their own devices to get work done. Time tracking can help business teams document how much time and resources are spent on each task, each client, and each business objective.
Improve Accountability for Team Members Working Across Multiple Geographies and Time Zones
With people working in multiple time zones, it can be challenging for supervisors and managers to ensure that team members are consistently productive. Managers cannot track their employees’ work or productivity in real time the way they can with on-site teams. Time-tracking software helps businesses create an environment where team members can be held accountable for their work. Employees are also more likely to remain productive if they know they have to account for time spent on each task or client.
Invoice and Bill Your Customers More Accurately
Errors or inaccuracies in billing can damage the trust customers have in a business. Without time tracking, businesses cannot be sure how many hours are spent on each customer’s needs. Manual time tracking with outdated tools such as spreadsheets is often subject to human error and can be exceedingly resource intensive. Modern software can make time tracking significantly easier by automating repetitive processes and making tracking data easily accessible by multiple business teams. This means finance teams always have the information they need to bill customers accurately and on time.
Gain Greater Insight into Budget Utilization and Optimization
Time tracking information can provide business leaders with a much better understanding of the inner workings of their business so they can find out how budgets are being spent and ensure they’re being used in the best possible way. This increased visibility into business finances can help companies find out if everything is in order. Recent research shows that 7% of a company’s payroll is lost to time theft. Effective time tracking allows team leaders to find budget inconsistencies early and ensure that any issues don’t snowball into something larger.
5 Ways to Make Time Tracking Work in Remote Teams
1. Keep It Simple
New processes or workflows introduced in any organization should be easy to understand for employees at every level. Overly technical or time-consuming processes may be ignored or done incorrectly by staff who are less technically inclined. Time tracking systems with intuitive graphical interfaces and easily accessible browser-based alternatives also make time tracking and management easy for every team member.
2. Help with Onboarding
Companies often purchase digital tools to help employees work more efficiently—but they don’t always provide the training people need to fully utilize the features. Proper onboarding helps employees understand why a new system is being introduced and how each feature should be used for maximum efficiency. A well-defined onboarding process also makes it more convenient for new employees to quickly learn how to track and report their work processes.
3. Make Communication Easy
Remote team workers can sometimes find it challenging to ask questions or express concerns, so businesses should make it as easy as possible. Open and clear communication ensures that time-tracking data is always accurate and delivered in a timely manner. Frequent communication also allows employees to quickly resolve customer issues internally and optimize the time they spend on each task.
4. Opt for Project or Task-Based Tracking
Once a company decides to track time, business leaders must decide how to go about doing so. Knowing the total hours worked isn’t enough—teams must track time spent on specific projects or tasks. A project or task-based approach to time tracking allows businesses to evaluate how staff are spending their time across multiple projects so they can optimize resources and attribute them accurately. This also allows companies to accurately bill customers for tasks or projects that end up being more demanding than they initially seemed.
5. Don’t Track Everything
Some companies can get a little carried away with tracking their remote employees. In a bid to ensure high levels of productivity and accountability, businesses can end up tracking more than they need. Accessing highly personal information such as GPS data or browsing history is intrusive to employees and can lead to high turnover rates within the organization. It’s important for businesses to identify the information they need and explain why that data collection is necessary to each team member.
Time tracking can confer benefits to businesses of any kind and are essential for those that employ remote workers. An effective time-tracking system can help companies increase accountability, raise productivity, and improve resource allocation. As work models evolve to span greater distances, a consistent and reliable method of tracking productivity and work hours is indispensable.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 15,000 companies all around the world track time. Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better.