In an attempt to answer the question of how to track employee time in the best possible way, you might have come across many employee time tracking software reviews. These can be messy, overwhelming and they can never really encompass all the options there are. Plus, what’s considered the best hour tracking app according to one review might not be what you need.
That’s why we’ve decided to approach the search for the best time tracking software in a slightly different way - by discussing the general features it should have. This way, you’ll be able to decide what specifically you need and you’ll have a concrete basis on which you can compare different solutions and choose the best for your company.
So here are 11 features that the best time tracking software should have to help you mitigate the loss of productivity working from home:
1. Time in Apps and Websites
This is a pretty basic functionality that almost every computer time clock for employees has. However, as it’s the foundation for many other features, we thought it deserved a place on the list anyway.
Basically, what it does is detect which computer programs employees use as well as which particular websites they visit through their browser. On top of this, an app and website time tracker should be able to automatically record how much time workers spend on each of those activities.
This allows you to track task time and have a real time overview of what everyone is doing. As a result, it helps prevent a loss of productivity working from home, since you can analyze trends and make changes in real time.
2. App and Website Categorization
An extension of the previous functionality that the best time tracking software needs to have is the ability to categorize apps and websites into ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’. This should be customizable at least on a department level.
Categorization helps with two things. First, it makes the computer activity overview much easier to keep track of because computer time clock software will automatically color productive activities green and unproductive ones red, so you’ll be able to tell right off the bat who’s working and who’s slacking off. And secondly, this data on the time spent in each type of task is collected and turned into very useful productivity stats.
3. Productivity Reports
Now, this is a super useful feature that you should definitely be looking for in your search for the best time tracking software if one of your goals is to optimize efficiency of employees and business processes.
These productivity reports come in different shapes and sizes. A good online time management system will tell you how productive each employee is, whether their productivity has gone up or down compared to the previous period, which time of day each team or department is most productive and much more.
These statistics can be used in employee evaluations, work delegation and optimizing time management in general.
4. Attendance Tracking
The best time tracking software has the ability to be more than that. Not only is it important to track time on tasks, but it’s also useful to be able to automatically take employee attendance.
This includes the feature of recording accurate clock-ins based on the first computer activity and clock-outs based on the last, as well as the automatic calculation of recorded overtime.
Being able to get this attendance data from your app for logging hours is crucial for working hours compliance, prevention of buddy-punching and other types of time theft, but also for organizing everyone’s work day.
5. Billable Hours
If you need more than just attendance tracking functionality, there is project time tracking and billing software that lets you set hourly rates for each employee or each project and incorporate that into the basic time tracking feature.
In the end, you get a report not only on how much time employees spent working on a specific project, but also how much that time costs. This provides clear and highly accurate reports you can give to your clients and it makes the payroll much more fair.
6. Automated Time Tracking
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Most types of office time management software let you or the employees assign specific computer activities to particular projects. However, only the best time tracking system enables you to do this automatically.
For instance, Insightful accomplishes this by detecting the names of the files your employees are working on and automatically connects the time spent in those files with the overall time for a specific project.
This is an invaluable solution for accountability, time saving and elimination of human error.
7. Location-Based Tracking
The future of employee monitoring is location-based.
Because as we continue to embrace new ways of working from hybrid work to remote work, and everything in between, it’s important to be able to compare and contrast performance levels with your time tracking data.
Insightful’s newly-introduced ‘office vs remote’ feature allows you to do just that: benchmark performance levels for office and remote worker productivity and monitor them in one place.
Since many companies now have a fragmented workforce, dispersed around the city, country, or world - especially if they outsource to other teams - it’s imperative to measure productivity according to location.
Comparing in-office and remote worker productivity allows you to make small changes that could have a hugely positive impact on performance.
8. Activity Labeling
If you want more than just a breakdown of how employees spent their time, you need time tracking software that offers activity labeling.
Time data on its own can be valuable, but it’s much more useful when paired with a system for determining what time is productive and what isn’t.
Take Insightful as an example.
With it, you can label a particular activity as:
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also label activities according to the team carrying them out. So what may be considered productive for a marketer, would be considered as neutral for an HR rep.
With activity labeling you can build a complete picture of company-wide performance, down to each department and team. That allows every manager to make data-backed decisions regarding productivity, ranging from dropping apps that consistently lead to lost productivity to scheduling breaks at times of the day when the team is least productive.
9. Privacy and Data Security
Last but not least, while it may not be glamorous - every great time tracking solution is committed to upholding data privacy and security.
Since time tracking software deals with sensitive data including what employees spend their time on throughout the day, it’s essential that you address privacy concerns up front.
Alternatively, you can simply decide to choose an employee monitoring platform that prioritizes privacy and data security to ease any concerns you or your employees may have.
In 2022, Forbes recognized Insightful as the ‘best remote work tracking software for privacy and promoting transparency.’ As such, Insightful is a safe bet if you’re looking to implement a time tracking solution that is committed to protecting your confidential data.
Make an Informed Decision
As you can see, even a simple time clock app can be powerful, but if you really want all the goodies that come with additional more sophisticated features, you should be fully informed before choosing the best time tracking software for your company. And hopefully, this article provided a solid educational basis for what’s out there and what each feature can do. All that’s left to say is - good luck in your search!