The Importance of Idle Time Tracking in Employee Monitoring

Idle Time Tracking

Idle time, the periods when employees are not actively engaged in work-related tasks, can have a significant impact on overall productivity. These seemingly inconspicuous moments of downtime, whether intentional or unintentional, can accumulate over time and lead to lost opportunities and reduced efficiency.

According to a Harvard Business School paper, every year, businesses lose over a hundred billion dollars in wages paid to workers for idle time. Thus, understanding the importance of idle time tracking in employee monitoring, along with the adoption of advanced idle time tracking software, is crucial for businesses seeking to maximize their human capital and achieve greater operational effectiveness.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of monitoring idle time, the potential benefits it offers to employers, and how it can be efficiently implemented through the use of dedicated idle time tracking software. We will explore how this software can provide accurate insights, actionable data, and real-time visibility into idle periods, empowering businesses to make informed decisions to boost productivity.

What Is Idle Time Tracking?

You cannot call an app a time tracker if it doesn’t monitor idle time. This feature is responsible for detecting a user’s inactive periods. Now, remember that an employee being ‘idle’ doesn’t necessarily mean their PC is switched off. A person’s time will be tagged as ‘idle’ if they are spending more than, let’s say, five minutes not clicking, typing, or even scrolling through a web page. Meanwhile, the opposite of this scenario is called ‘active time’. 

Now, online monitoring tools are used for recording, measuring, and analyzing how long people spend on various tasks and computer activities. These employee monitoring software programs let you gain an insight into their active time. Of course, an inactivity tracker won’t tell you how a person spends their idle time. Instead, it will only show you when it happens and how long it lasts. 

What Causes Idle Time?

Before we even discuss how to address inactive periods, let’s talk about what causes them:

  • Inefficient workers – Always remember that employees have different abilities and some may be more efficient than others. Moreover, new hires may need more time to adjust to their roles. You can address this by having a comprehensive onboarding process. 
  • Ineffective workflow processes – If the business and production processes are poorly optimized, employees will have no choice but to wait until work comes around. For instance, if the approval system is inefficient, they cannot move on with their assigned tasks. 
  • Malfunctioning equipment – There will be serious operational issues if work equipment unexpectedly breaks down. As such, there should be a system that will ensure a proactive maintenance plan for high-priority assets.
  • Natural disasters and accidents – Sometimes, events can be beyond human control. So, there should be a contingency plan that will prepare your company for accidents and natural disasters.

Why Should You Track Idle Time?

Track Idle Time

Idle time may seem unimportant, but it plays a valuable role in workflow organization and performance evaluation. Here are some of the reasons why you should also monitor it:

Understand How Employees Use Break Times

In many companies, especially those that manage remote employees, flexible work hours are becoming a standard. Indeed, this setup promotes a healthy work-life balance and boosts employee satisfaction. However, you’ll find it inconvenient if you do not know when your staff members take breaks or start working.

With a monitoring tool that offers idle time tracking, you can address this issue by identifying all the gaps in their active computer use. If your employees’ duties require them to stay tied to their computers, detecting idle time will let you know that they’ve decided to take a break. You can collect the data on a team level. This way, you can determine the average availability period within a team.

If you’re scheduling a meeting, this information can be crucial. Instead of pulling some employees away from their much-needed rest, you’ll be able to choose the most convenient meeting time for everyone in the team. Of course, the same principle applies to assigning tasks. You’d want to know your employee’s availability so that you can estimate the turnaround time of a task.

Get Insights into Offline Activities

Not everyone works in front of their computer the entire day. Some job roles require people to step away from their desks. In this case, the employee can manually add their offline activities to the periods that the tracker may detect as idle time. So, instead of seeing blank periods, you will know that the employee spent that time talking to a client or printing documents.

The manager or the employee can add this time manually, so this method is not foolproof. Even so, it gives you a nice overview of what people’s work-related offline activities are. Just because there’s idle time, it doesn’t mean that the employee is slacking off.

Know More About Productivity

Track Employee Productivity

As we’ve mentioned, idle time tracking can be a good way to understand how people use offline time. As such, you can get a better picture of your team’s productivity in the workplace. You can measure how efficient your employees are based on their active time. Moreover, you can generate the reports automatically. Now, time added manually is an indication that your employee spent a portion of their day being productive even when they were offline.

In a way, you are getting a more complete and bigger picture of your team’s productivity. At the same time, you will know exactly how your workers spend their billable hours. You can analyze their performance during active and idle periods. This way, you will get an idea about areas for improvement.

Eliminate Slacking Off

Tracking idle time is one of the ways that you can discourage slacking off in the workplace. Naturally, many people will be initially skeptical about how this will work. However, the basic principle is easy to understand. When your employees know that you are monitoring their idle time, they are less likely to slack off. Out of fear of getting caught, they will be more cautious about their break times or their water cooler chats. 

Being aware of idle time tracking, your employees will more likely spend most of their billable hours doing productive work. Keep in mind that this strategy alone is not enough to ensure that your workers will stay efficient most of the time. If you want to keep them engaged, you need to incorporate other tactics. Even so, using an online monitoring tool with idle time tracking is certainly a good start.

The Best Idle Time Tracking App

If you want to ensure optimum productivity, you must be careful in choosing a time tracker for your team. When it comes to active and idle time tracking, nothing beats Traqq. This online monitoring app is packed with features that will help you gain insights into how your employees spend their time at work. 

Idle Time Tracking App

One of the things you’ll love about Traqq is how it monitors activity levels. On the dashboard, you will see if your employees are working actively on their computers and if there are idle periods. The tool measures productivity based on the user’s keyboard movements and mouse clicks and scrolls. You can be sure that the data will be accurate. After all, Traqq’s anti-cheat algorithm detects and nullifies redundant mouse movements and power clicks. 

The best part about Traqq is that you can download it for free with no feature limitations!


Tracking idle time is as useful as monitoring how employees spend their active time. It gives you insights into their productivity in the workplace. At the same time, you can use the information to know when people take their breaks. The data will help you better organize workflow processes. In many ways, it provides you with details that can help your team become more accountable and efficient.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related articles

Feb 6, 2020

The 4 Biggest Time Tracker Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Apr 10, 2023

What Time Zone is Ontario? How Remote Employees Handle Canadian Time Zones

Sep 4, 2020

What does Traqq’s desktop app do?