Love it or hate it, you can’t invoice accurately, improve profitability or manage resources effectively without time tracking. While businesses have been using time clocks to do the job since the late 1800s, they have aged terribly. Our work models have changed, our workplaces have become increasingly disparate and virtual, and our patience for managing menial admin has reached its limit. Here's why the best employee time clock currently available isn't a time clock.
What is an employee time clock?
Time clocks record people’s working hours by showing when they arrive and leave work. First introduced back in the 1880s, they usually depend on some form of manual input to document employee time – either in the form of a card that gets “punched” with holes or timestamped. More modern varieties have used magnetic stripe cards, RFID tags, remote mobile devices and even biometrics to work, but the reliance on manual action remains.
How time clocks work against employers
Time clocks are completely dependent on manual input, and thus extremely vulnerable to human error. They’re often highly inflexible and unable to deal with inconsistencies like forgetting your key card, punching in early or forgetting to clock in.
By placing the responsibility of providing accurate data on the shoulders of the employee, time clocks also create a tense workplace dynamic. They uphold a worker-employer divide and one-way power flow which can cripple company culture.
Time clocks support a binary view of employee time that doesn’t provide any rich insight into what employees actually do, how they perform and whether they need support. Attendance – although important – is only one feature of a healthy, productive workforce and cannot measure the quality of time spent or employee effectiveness.
The problem with time clock apps
In an effort to stay relevant, many companies have updated time clocks for the modern workplace. Digital time clock apps—also referred to as time and attendance software—are now available online, can be accessed from mobile devices to allow remote teams to “clock in”, and even use proximity terminals to punch in when you walk past.
But they simplify rather than solve the problem, transferring the age-old flaws of manual time clocks to a digital setting. You still have to fill in the blanks the system can’t understand, you still have a restrictive and colorless record of employee time, and you still introduce low-value admin into each employee's day.
How to automate employee time tracking
Thankfully, technology has evolved beyond the manual clock in/clock out system to become increasingly automated. Automatic employee hours trackers satisfy the basic function of time clocks whilst heaping on a ton of employee insights in the process. Tools like Timely:
- Track everything people work on for them in the background
- Accurately document all overtime and non-billable work
- Cut manual timesheet admin by 75%
- Reveal how long people spend on specific tasks and clients
- Show team resource capacity and availability in real time
- Allow teams to check the status of work without interrupting each other
All employee time and activity is captured in the background while people work. They just need to drag and drop activities to log them to their public timesheet—a process that is 75% faster than traditional manual methods.
Team dashboards and reports then update in real time to keep teams on top of capacity, utilization, overtime and work hours. You can even separate time out by billable and non-billable status.