It’s true, people have always been fascinated by time - what they can do with it and what it can do for them.
The first people tracked the sun, the moon, and the sea to determine parts of the day, to know the season, and what predators it will bring or what to plant next. Time meant life and death for them as much as it means financial stability for us.
The Start of Time Tracking
The oldest record of tracking time for completing working responsibilities dates back to 1772 BC and The Code of Hammurabi with the first reference of wages.
Ever since then, organized governments have tried to control their economics - admittedly, with varying success - by measuring the time needed to complete a task and determining the level of compensation accordingly.
Throughout history, there have been numerous ways to keep track of working hours - sundials, hourglasses, punching tablets, pendula, even the size of the food portion dealt at the end of the shift.
In more recent history, 1888 is the year most frequently referenced for the invention of the first time clock by IBM which was used to measure the time necessary for completing a working activity.
It was recorded manually by punching or stamping a card at specific times that corresponded to an employee. However, this is far from a fully automated system like we have today, as it required human interaction and manual input of information.
In this sense, the time tracker has seen much improvement since then.
Modern Time Trackers
While manual tracking systems still exist and are used in some parts of the world, a whole industry has evolved from the need to overcome the unique challenges pertaining to timekeeping in the digital age.
The biggest push in improving time-clocking solutions was the result of industrialization and the introduction of the self calculating machine - very simple in concept, yet extremely effective in producing results.
Thanks to this invention, time tracking has been made easier as it basically totaled up all the time spent on work throughout the week for quick - automatic - processing and easier wage calculation.
In the twentieth century, business owners and managers have also used paper timesheets to keep track of employee attendance, until the introduction of RFID cards for tracking time employees were spending at work, as well as their location and movements during working hours. This was also a good security measure at the time, as it prevented workers from entering the areas they didn’t have access to.
It was the predecessor of modern remote time tracking software as supervisors were able to monitor employee activities closely from their offices via detailed reports of workers’ check-in and check-out times, and movements on the premises. It represented state of the art technology that couldn’t be tricked.
Software Time Trackers
It wasn’t long before mechanical time trackers were replaced with software where human involvement in the calculation process has morphed to an overseeing and decision-making one.
Modern web-based time tracking software, like Insightful, is a program installed on a piece of equipment - PC, tablet, smartphone - that records not only employee check-ins and check-outs, but also what they are working on during office hours, for how long, with what intensity, where, etc.
Moreover, Insightful allows managers to distinguish between productive and unproductive employee activities. They can label websites and apps that are or will be used by the employee into productive, unproductive, and neutral, and thus acquire insights relevant to each employee and their scope of duties from this desktop time tracking software.
Not only that, but managers can also be alerted by the tool about long periods of inactive or unproductive time or unprofessional worker behavior (like visiting websites unsuitable for the professional environment).
Another Insightful’s advantage is that it is easily scalable and can be used in small and mid-sized businesses as well as in large enterprises. What is more, corporations get the most use of this workforce productivity and analytics software as it provides intricate data they can use to further their operations and grow their business.
Furthermore, all the information gathered by Insightful is impeccably safe since it’s stored either on the customer’s premises or on Google’s secure servers and accessible only to the customer company’s authorized staff members. That makes it easily and conveniently controllable.
Another sign of modern times is the ability of such software to masterfully perform operations as their predecessors did thousands of years ago.
In this regard, time tracking and billing software combines the two biggest needs for this type of tool. Especially useful for paying freelancers, but not excluding full and part-time employees, tools with this function provide an easy and precise way to financially compensate workers in accordance with how productive their work was.
Additionally, some solutions have the option to limit the hours freelance employees, for instance, can work on a project. This, in turn, allows the employer to stay within the budget and pay the workers appropriately.
In some industries, however, it’s not applicable to use desktop time tracking software to monitor employees if their working duties don’t hinge on the constant use of digital devices. This is why some solutions have a GPS tracking option so the employers can be sure their staff in the field is where they should be during working hours.
While the means of tracking employees in the workplace have changed over time the need for it hasn’t.
Even now when companies are moving back and forth between working in the office and remotely, the necessity for properly monitoring employee activities is present.
That’s why it’s important to find the best employee time clock software for your needs - that corresponds to your industry requirements and is able to solve your unique problems.
This article was originally written on August 26th, 2019 by Aleksa Misic. It was updated on July 29th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.