In the wake of new US and EU overtime regulations, the need for accurate, sophisticated time tracking technology is more pressing than ever. Yet many businesses still operate using Industrial Age tools – relying on human input to “clock” the start and end of a working day. But if clock in and out apps aren’t up to the task, what technology is? What does modern time tracking look like and what infrastructural effort does it involve to get up-and-running?
Time clock technology has changed little since it was first introduced back in the late 19th century. While employees can now access online time clocks – using remote devices and GPS geo-tagging to clock in and out remotely – the essential mechanism has remained the same: users manually indicate the start and end of their work day.
Nice clock in and out interfaces can simplify the work documentation problem, but they don’t actively solve it. Nor do they disguise these wider problems of time clock technology for modern businesses:
Unreliable time records
By its very nature, a clock in and out app relies on manual user input. This introduces a huge amount of human error into business time logs, as people forget to start or stop timers. While some time clocks let users reconstruct work hours after the fact (which itself is a highly inaccurate means of documenting time), many are highly inflexible in these situations, making it hard to adjust for inconsistencies.
Thin employee time data
A start and an end time: this is the limit of what time clock apps capture. While some managers may favour this simplicity, it ultimately starves business time records of useful context, insight and detail. Without any further data – such as what employees do in that time or how their time is distributed among tasks and projects – it can be difficult for workers to recall any particular work day in their record. Lacking this data also denies employees a useful tool for identifying how overtime actually happens.
Repetitive, low-value admin
It goes without saying that managing timers, and manually punching in work start and end times, is shockingly archaic. It requires people to consciously remember to track their time, and introduces a repetitive, low-value administrative task into their day.
Future-proof time tracking with automation
If the clock in and out app offers a colorless, inaccurate record of employee hours, what technology can provide the opposite without being prohibitively difficult to use? In a word, automation.
Automation offers tangible benefits for companies seeking accurate, data-rich time tracking by completely removing the dependence on manual input. What’s more, by tracking all work hours automatically, it offers one of the most harmonious solutions to time tracking going: people can work naturally, focusing entirely on their work without having to start and stop timers, or remember to write anything down.
While the technology is complex, it’s disarmingly simple to use. It just requires users to download an app on their computer to track their work activity. We’ve laid out exactly how these automatic apps work, but the general gist is that it’s remarkably accessible: new users can be fully up-and-running on the technology in less than 10 minutes. It also doesn’t require any special training effort or investment in any additional devices to get started.