Best Time Recording Practices for Remote Employees

As a business owner or manager, you’ll agree that time recording is essential to improving the efficiency, performance, and productivity of your teams. However, tracking work hours can be difficult to master, especially for remote teams.

Some may feel like it’s a burden since it disrupts their work days while others may consider it an invasion of their privacy. The good news is that you can help your teams take control of their schedules by implementing time-keeping best practices.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The importance of remote work time recording
  • The dos and don’ts of remote time tracking, and
  • The benefits of time recording apps.

What Is Time Recording?

Time recording is the process where employees systematically record their working hours to ease time management and planning. It could be the recording of the start and end times, time spent on various tasks or projects, time spent on meetings with clients, etc.

Time recording provides valuable insight into the overall time usage of workers, which can be used to evaluate employees, ensure accurate billing, and avoid issues with labor laws.

As the owner of the business, it’s imperative to have a clear idea of how your human resources utilize their working hours. Are they wasting time watching funny videos, shopping online, or on social media? Or are they performing all their roles and duties as stipulated in your employee handbook?

Remember, time is your most valuable resource, and even with the right technology, it’s not easy to achieve your remote time management goals.

Automatic Vs. Manual Time Keeping: What’s the Difference?

Businesses can implement two major methods to record work hours: manual or automatic.

Manual time recording involves using paper timesheets, which are filled by employees or supervisors and approved by managers. This method has been used for centuries, but recording and calculating individual hours or group work hours manually is prone to inaccuracies that can lead to payroll issues.

According to Mark Pierce, founding partner of Wyoming Trust and LLC Attorney, “Miscalculation of worker’s hours causes payroll headaches and provokes legal issues.” He adds that “absence and overtime are the trickiest records and is where the majority of calculation mistakes occur.”

Failure to pay workers their due will, in turn, leads to them quitting their jobs. In fact, the Workforce Institute reported that 54 percent of the American workforce has experienced errors with their paychecks. And as studies show, nearly a quarter of employees reported they would be looking for new employment after just a single payroll mistake.

Time theft is another serious problem that’s rampant with manual paper timesheets. According to research, the US economy loses $11 billion annually due to employee time theft.

The solution?

Switch to automatic time monitoring systems. These systems simplify time recording significantly and improve scheduling and task prioritization. Other advantages of automated solutions for recording work hours include:

  • Elimination of payroll inaccuracies and simplification of invoice processing
  • Simplifying integration with other productivity tools
  • Identifying and minimizing distractions
  • Eliminating time wastage in recording time and helping to structure work schedules more effectively
  • Collection of data for performance tracking and analysis

The Importance of Time Recording in Remote Teams

To get the most out of your teams, you must highlight the benefits of time recording for your remote teams. These include:

Compliance with Labor Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to keep certain records for every non-exempt employee. This information, which includes data about the hours worked each day and week, as well as wages earned, should be accurate.

In addition, some states require companies to maintain certain recordkeeping standards. For example, in California, employers must provide their employees with a pay stub each time they are paid indicating the total hours worked.

The State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, also requires ‘reporting time pay’ for non-exempt employees. This applies when employees who are “scheduled to report to work but who are not put to work because of inadequate scheduling or lack of proper notice by the employer.” Employees who present themselves for work by logging on to a computer remotely are also eligible for ‘reporting pay time’.

That’s why it’s important to implement a reliable system to keep track of hours worked.

Accuracy in Billing and Invoicing

Time recording provides an overview of employees’ working hours and work habits, which can help improve cost estimates and identify unnecessary activities. Businesses that offer services billed based on time spent on tasks or projects need an accurate recording of time to facilitate the determination of billable time. Using the smart invoice generator, you can create professional invoices in a few seconds and streamline financial processes.

Automatic time trackers capture this information in the background and record it in the daily timesheets. Where the process is done manually, employees fill out these timesheets and submit them for approval.

Productivity Boost

When remote workers know they are being monitored, they are less likely to engage in non-work-related activities. Likewise, they will put in more effort and reduce idleness.

In addition, when employees record work hours, they can identify the sources of distractions and find ways to eliminate them. This way, they can create strategies that are more effective and hence improve their productivity.

Encouraging remote teams to record time helps you gain a deeper understanding of their performance. With this data, you can adjust processes or implement optimization strategies, like reducing unnecessary meetings, to create an environment for success.

Better Project Management

Managers can track project progress and determine whether it will be completed within the deadline. They can also track project expenses to determine the cost of each project. Time recording apps provide data that enables managers to estimate future costs of projects to determine profitability.

By tracking projects, you can avoid costly mistakes, such as poor project estimates, since you have data to help you make better assessments. It also gives you a clearer picture of how the projects are doing, so you can determine a project’s or client’s value.

This way, you can dedicate more time to such projects or clients and make better planning and execution decisions.

Efficient Workload Management

By tracking the time spent on tasks and projects, managers gain useful insight into how long projects can take to complete. Moreover, they learn how each employee works, which can prove helpful when assigning tasks to ensure no personnel is overworked.

Optimizing workload management improves your team’s work-life balance. This allows team members to spend more time with family members, pursue personal matters, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In return, cases of work-related stress, fatigue, and burnout will be a thing of the past. Your employees will be happier, more engaged, and more productive.

Spot Problems Early

Recording time allows you to identify potential problem areas in your organization and address them before they affect your remote workers. For instance, poor time management can affect project deliverables and client satisfaction. If not addressed, these issues can hurt your bottom line.

By keeping track of work hours, you don’t have to guess where the problem originated from. Instead, you’ll have historical data that you can analyze so you can formulate strategies to resolve the issues.

Dos and Don’ts of Time Recording

An Owl Labs survey shows that 48 percent (1 in 2 people) would start looking for another job that offers more flexibility if they were no longer able to work remotely. This shows employees are liking remote and hybrid work and are willing to keep working remotely.

However, even with many organizations taking the initiative to allow team members to work from home, the challenge of monitoring staff and ensuring effective time recording remains unresolved.

Owners and managers are still concerned about how employees spend their time at work. They worry about reduced productivity, work-life conflict, and reduced work focus.

Therefore, to ensure you get the best results from tracking how your remote team members spend their work hours, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Dos

Create Routines

Routines are crucial in enabling you to manage your time and that of your remote teams better. A routine basically means getting the same things done systematically every day. Having routines in place streamlines workflows and allows everything to run smoothly.

This saves you time since repeating the same things each day makes them familiar, meaning team members won’t take as much time to accomplish them.

It also eliminates decision fatigue because you and your team don’t have to constantly think about what you should do next.

Develop a written time recording policy for your remote team

Here are some areas to touch on in the policy:

  • State clearly what’s expected of employees concerning time recording. For example, let them know they must record their time using the designated software.
  • Tell employees they must not work outside their scheduled hours without advance approval from their manager.
  • Explain the process to follow when employees want to work outside of their scheduled time.
  • State the consequences of working unauthorized overtime or hours, and falsifying time records.
  • Make it clear that employees are responsible for recording their working hours and keeping those records safe.
  • Make it clear that employees must record all time worked, including time spent checking and responding to work emails.
  • Explain the process of submitting their time records if they use a manual system.
  • Let team members know the number of hours they are allowed to work consecutively and break times.

Be transparent about using employee monitoring software

Providing a clear remote work policy isn’t enough. You need to be transparent with the team members regarding using a time tracker. Let them know how they are tracked, the type of data you’re collecting, and who has access to the data.

By creating an environment of trust and confidence, employees will be more willing to utilize the time-recording software.

Require staff to verify hours worked

To avoid payroll mistakes, require all team members to review their time records and verify that they are accurate. Where possible, require that the employee document or sign that they have confirmed the records to be accurate.

This can protect you from incrimination in case of legal ramifications.

Train your staff on how to use time recording software

While it’s advisable to implement a simple and user-friendly time recording tool, most employees may not know how to operate it. Therefore, consider training them on the usage, so they don’t run into issues while using it.

Ensuring that workers are conversant with the ins and outs of the app reduces the time that could’ve been wasted in seeking assistance and clarifications.

Digitize time-off requests

The age of written time-off requests is gone. In this modern world, everything should be digitized, especially when working with virtual teams. This reduces the chances of accidentally throwing away the time-off request forms or misplacing them.

Digitizing the process eliminates the risk of human error. Remote workers can submit time off requests on a platform where administrators can approve or deny the requests as necessary.

Don’ts

Make your routine too rigid

Routines are great to have, but if they are too rigid, they can complicate your and your teams’ work days. Keep in mind that not every day will be the same, especially with distributed teams working from home.

Some days will require preparing kids for school before starting work. On other days, they might find themselves dealing with emergencies. Therefore, be mindful and allow flexible routines for your teams.

Surprise team members with a time-tracking system

The sudden implementation of tools to keep track of hours worked won’t be taken well by your team. They want to be treated fairly, and that means notifying them ahead of time that you intend to introduce a time tracker. It also means explaining the importance of recording time and how it will benefit them.

Go a step further and involve them in the implementation process. This will result in better utilization and a higher level of appreciation among your team members.

Use time recording to micromanage employees

You don’t need to monitor every minor detail of how your workers spend their work hours. According to a report by BBC, UK workers feel stressed out by the implementation of surveillance systems.

Instead of using a time monitoring tool to create fear that you’re watching employees’ every move, empower them by fostering a sense of accountability. Allow them to manage their own productivity and use the data gathered to analyze their performance and make informed decisions.

Withhold pay if they fail to provide/confirm their timesheet

The FLSA and many state laws require employers to pay employees for all hours worked, whether they submitted their time records or not. If an employee, including those working remotely, fails to submit or confirm their timesheets, ask them or their supervisor to do so immediately and proceed to pay them accordingly.

While you may discipline employees for not adhering to your time recording policies, withholding pay shouldn’t be one of the repercussions.

Advantages of Using Time Recording Apps

Time recording is essential for any business – whether you charge by the hour, by project, or simply want to manage project costs and resources more efficiently. If you’re still stuck with age-old, error-prone notepads and paper timesheets, it’s time to ditch them for apps designed to automatically record work hours.

These apps, apart from improving time management skills in your teams, can benefit your organization in many ways. One tool, in particular, stands out due to its simplicity when it comes to implementation and usage.

Traqq is designed with remote teams in mind. This means it’s easily customizable to fit your team’s needs and scalable to cater to your growing needs. Wondering how Traqq will benefit you and your virtual team?

Here are six reasons why:

  • Shift focus to productive work. Traqq automates time recording, capturing every minute spent working in the background. This way, you and your team members don’t have to think about recording work hours. Instead, they can focus 100 percent on work.
  • Increase your profitability. Using Traqq to track all the time spent on projects gives you insights into how much revenue each project is generating. This kind of visibility allows you to calculate future project costs and make accurate estimations that will result in better profits.
  • A better understanding of team capacity. Traqq provides real-time data on the workload of each team member and their progress. This allows managers to coordinate and balance team efforts and prevent cases of overworking.
  • Bill accurately. If you work on many projects for multiple clients, you need a reliable system that captures all billable hours. Traqq automatically captures hours worked by each employee, eliminating room for payroll discrepancies.
  • Improve business intelligence. Apart from gathering time records, Traqq offers analytics-based features, such as reports to help you analyze trends and detect potential problems and opportunities in your processes. Likewise, you can analyze employee attendance and address issues before they balloon.
  • Prevents going over budget. If you hire contractors or freelancers, the tool allows you to keep an eye on their workload and hours to ensure they don’t go over budget. The time tracker will monitor each contractor’s performance so you can allocate projects to the right people.

If you’re looking for a time-recording app that will help you plan resources more efficiently, optimize productivity, and ensure business success, check out Traqq. The tool promotes ethical employee monitoring, where team members control how they want to be tracked.

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