How To Track A Remote Employee’s Time

Whether it’s for payroll, invoicing clients, or general productivity, remote teams need to track their hours

When there is no physical office, managers cannot paraglide into employees’ homes (that would be very unwise in a pandemic setting. And also, very illegal. And dangerous) –

Managers, as I was saying, cannot physically be there to check employees, so remote teams have to rely on other instruments to keep the work on track.

That’s where tracking time can help.

Recording the worked hours serves many purposes that range from general productivity, attendance, invoicing, and payroll.

Here are the easiest ways to track time in remote teams.  

Why Remote Teams Need To Track Their Time 

Tracking employee hours is not just a matter of big corporations and submitting timesheets. 

Remote teams, in particular, need to track their hours because there’s no physical place to go, like an office, to keep an eye on the work done. The whole process becomes extra tricky.

Employees need to manage their time effectively, because it can be really hard to focus when working from home. Meanwhile, managers need to know that the work is proceeding and what the team’s been up to

Tracking time is a good practice that doesn’t just help with productivity:

  • It keeps track of attendance;
  • It helps with monitoring budgets and projects;
  • Knowing what projects/tasks take most of the employees’ time can help work better;
  • Identifying possible problems with project and clients lets companies act before it’s too late;
  • Lat bast not least, tracking time is necessary for payroll and invoicing clients correctly.

How To Track Time In Remote Teams 

So, what are the best ways to track time in a remote team?

#1 Tracking Time Using Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets have been used for a long time to track employee hours. 

Basically, employees fill each day the rows of the sheet with the details of how much time they tracked each day. 

Then, specific functions proceed to calculate totals,  as well as things like billable amounts and overtime if necessary. 

Image source

The pros of this method are that is fairly simple to implement, there’s no need to install anything on the computers, and the spreadsheet is reachable online thanks to a simple link. 

The cons, however, are many: it’s incredibly cumbersome to enter all that data manually; the sheet with too much data can become hard to read and understand. If the team is big with many projects it’s unmanageable in the long run. For managers who need to know if the team’s been productive or not, an endless sheet of rows can become really hard to use to get insights.

#2 Clock-in/ Clock Out Apps

Another way of tracking time to basically know when employees clock in and out to work.

In a remote setting, that means you cannot punch a time card he entering an office.

There are apps specifically designed for clocking in and out, that sometimes offer location tracking as an additional feature.

Much like spreadsheets, these apps are fairly easy to use and implement. However, these apps rarely give actual insights on productivity and effectiveness. Just because you know how long an employee has worked, it doesn’t mean you’ll know how the time has been used.

This is a bit of an “old school” method that doesn’t really adapt in a remote setting.

#3 Time Tracking SaaS Software  

SaaS software solutions have boomed in recent years, especially those solutions to help remote teams stay connected

SaaS software saves data in the cloud so they’re easily accessible to everyone, and offer their features for monthly subscriptions. 

Among them, time tracking software is quite popular, and a better fit than spreadsheets for tracking employee hours. 

Firstly, unlike spreadsheets, time tracking software is specifically designed to track time.  

Secondly, it’s cloud-based setup is perfect and easily accessible for a remote employee.

Lastly, this type of software isn’t just an electronic timesheet but is usually packed with reporting and monitoring features.

Time tracking software lets people enter their time by clicking buttons to start a timer or enter data manually. 

Some also don’t stop at simple time tracking, but also add project and team management features. 

For example, Timeneye is a time tracking solution that works well for remote teams. 

Hi, Timeneye!

It makes time tracking really easy for starters, and all the data is safely stored inside the workspace. 

Timeneye gives managers insights on people’s productivity: for example in the picture below I can see I see troubles with this project’s budgets.

How To Bring Time Tracking Software In Your Remote Team

If you’re a manager in a remote team, it will be your responsibility to implement time tracking correctly. To make sure your team can adapt to a time tracking tool and actually use it, the transition should be as easy as possible.

Your team will need the right training and the right instruments to get started. 

  • Test at first in a small group, then scale to the whole team;
  • Provide adequate training by showing the team how to use the tool;
  • Establish guidelines (what and how to track) and share them with the team;
  • Help employees fit the new tool in their workflow by integrating with the system they already use;
  • Allow them some time time to get used to the new system
  • Gather feedback and listen to their comments.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

Timeneye offers effortless time tracking for remote teams: give it a try today!

About Stefania

Marketing Manager at Timeneye. She's passionate about technology and finding better, smarter ways to work. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and belting out tunes from Broadway musicals (although the neighbours don't seem to appreciate that). Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.