In case you haven’t realized it before, employee monitoring is different from tracking time in the workplace.
Hence, it’s only logical for the corresponding remote work tracking tools to incorporate separate features that aim to answer and achieve differing challenges and goals, respectively.
If you’ve only just started your search for the perfect tool, you need to look into the differences between these two types in accordance with the operational predicaments you aim to address.
Sometimes, you might be financially constrained to choose between web-based employee time tracking software and one for monitoring employee activities.
Let us help you make the right choice.
Recognize the Problem, Define the Solution
Before you start searching for the right tool, you need to thoroughly analyze the issues your company is facing:
- Are your employees idly sitting around?
- Do your projects take too long for no apparent reason?
- Does the company run out of resources?
Having a clear image of your business environment and common issues will help you decide if you need to start to monitor your employees or track the time they spend at work.
Measuring the amount of time your staff is spending at work might be necessary if you start receiving complaints from customers about being unable to reach your customer support or colleagues who feel like their team members are constantly late to work.
You have to agree that losing customers and overpaying employees must have negative effects on your bottom line - and can be solved by implementing time tracking in your collective. That’s why any employee behavior that damages your business needs to be addressed as soon as even an indication of such behavior exists.
Preventing Time Theft
By the same token, if your company makes it a habit to hire external collaborators for specific projects or on a regular basis - whether the demand comes from unique industry challenges, time-sensitive market shifts, human resource reductions, or some other reason - you would be wise to implement modern time tracker software to prevent time waste while they are on your payroll.
Of course, you would need to explain why it is necessary and that it shouldn’t be regarded as computer spying software, but as a tool with numerous professional benefits.
With Insightful in particular, both the company and employees - freelancers included - can be sure that all information gathered about their working habits and used resources are stored safely - on company premises or on secure Google servers. Additionally, it is accessible only to authorized customer company personnel in order to prevent any misuse, thus also keeping them in compliance with the latest legislation.
Billing for Client Projects
Remote work tracking software also provides you a way to accurately bill hours spent on a project by using client time tracking software and allows clients to always be in the know about the progress of their project. Not only does this practice minimize wasting time going back and forth when reporting to clients, but it also provides you with a mechanism to keep employees accountable for their work.
On the other hand, should you require direct insight into what your employees are doing on their computers during working hours and how productive they are, you should implement cloud employee monitoring software.
If you have suspicions or complaints about certain employees’ unprofessional behavior, monitor screen capture software can give you the answers you seek - what is being done during working hours, if task duration is unnecessarily prolonged, what resources are being used, etc. In this sense, tools like Insightful are in a unique position to provide objective information about employee productivity that can paint a real picture that old-school performance reviews just can’t.
Real-time Performance Tracking
Moreover, cloud employee monitoring software like Insightful is able to provide real-time information about workers’ performance, with alerts triggered by unprofessional behavior or too long idle times. Moreover, managers can also take screenshots of staff monitors - manually or automatically, at random times or when triggered by suspicious activity.
With information stored for two years, Insightful provides the means for companies to easily handle performance disputes with employees, but also the incentive for more productive work and issuing a corresponding reward.
Therein lies the value of employee monitoring for both workers and bosses.
Try Both, Then Decide
During the process of identifying the issues your company is facing and determining the goals you want to achieve with tools that give you insight into employee workplace attendance and activities, you will probably come to find that what works for others may not work for you.
One of the ways to figure out which type of tool to use is to simply try both before you commit.
There are plenty of free time tracking software versions available on the market, as well as those with which you can monitor employees - even if only during the trial period. Nevertheless, a week or two is, in most cases, enough to try out all the features and decide if the tool is a good fit for your company.
The most important thing to look out for when testing is how they fit your company culture, whether it can resolve burning issues, and what you need to invest for that to happen.
Don’t get swayed by all the options if all you need is time tracking for remote employees, for example. If you don’t use all the features, you will only be wasting money.
On the other hand, if you have a wide range of issues you want to cover by monitoring employee activity, a solution that only tracks time will not be enough for you.
Ultimately, knowing your needs and what you want to achieve will decide what tool to go with.
Factors to Consider
To help you make a choice, here are some of the most important factors to bear in mind.
Consideration for Remote Workers
With the rise of remote work, there are more challenges now than ever before when it comes to striking the right balance between employee monitoring and respecting privacy.
As such, it’s crucial that you understand that monitoring remote employees who work from home can at times, feel like an invasion of privacy from their perspective. As a result, you should always consider your employees when implementing time tracking or employee monitoring, and most importantly: be clear in your reasons for implementing the tools.
If you go about it the right way, introducing an employee monitoring tool like Insightful can be received as a positive by your workforce. When you discuss the benefits for them of being able to visualize their productivity and that they have the agency to be in charge of their own professional development, it can be a much easier sell.
The Role of Feedback in Implementation
Using either one of these tools isn’t just about data collection, but also about understanding and addressing your employees’ biggest concerns.
That’s why it’s important to consider how you’ll check in with employees and incorporate their feedback on an ongoing basis.
For time tracking, you could analyze timesheets that your team members have submitted and ask them to add comments about how time tracking has impacted their productivity levels.
For employee monitoring, you can simply analyze the performance trends within your software, and use that data to hold discussions with team members who may be struggling.
Evaluating Productivity versus Burnout
Sometimes, the process of time tracking can lead some employees to burnout.
Some team members will feel that there’s an onus on them to work as many hours as possible as they believe their managers will see the time they’re putting in and praise them for it.
That’s why it’s important to have measures in place to maintain healthy, sustainable productivity levels.
With time tracking, that might mean letting your employees know that they shouldn’t log more than a certain number of hours a day.
With employee monitoring, especially with tools like Insightful, you can visualize productivity levels in the app and proactively prevent employee burnout by monitoring trends.
The Third Option - Integration
Depending on the requirements, instead of choosing between the two options, the best solution for your company might be employee monitoring software that integrates both options but can also solely track time if need be.
The two solutions work best in tandem, and provide wholesome data - as is evident in Insightful’s workforce analytics tool. The deep and comprehensive insights it provides are useful for optimizing organizational processes on the individual, team, and company level - since it covers all aspects of professional behavior. Only such an all-encompassing solution can be seamlessly integrated with your internal systems, prevent future issues, and ultimately help your company scale.
Making a Decision
Before choosing either time tracking or a tool to monitor staff performance, take a good look at your company’s operations, internal culture, and level structure, and define the goals you want to achieve in the future period.
Test both out in your professional environment to ensure the provided results are relevant to your specificities. Afterward, consider a solution that integrates the two, as it may be the best fit for your company.
Updated on October 5th 2023