With more people working from home than ever before, teamwork has entered a whole new dimension. While time tracking offers remote teams one of the best ways to stay visible and in sync, it can also make the whole work from home experience easier on an individual level. From gaining self-knowledge and constructing a more satisfying schedule, to ensuring people don’t work excessive hours, there are a ton of reasons why every home worker should track their time.
Employee-first time tracking tools
An important note on tools before we dive in: time tracking apps only really benefit home workers if they’re actually designed for them – not their employers. By this we mean they are:
User-friendly – they automate time tracking to minimize demands on employee time and effort (that means no manual timers or data input);
Privacy focused – they ensure an employee’s tracked data is securely stored and only accessible to them alone;
Built on trust – they let employees actively share relevant time data with peers, instead of using underhanded methods to take it from them.
Too many time tracking tools are unworkably inefficient and designed with in-built employer biases. To reap the full benefits of time tracking as a home worker, make sure the tool you’re using is actually built in your interests and isn't there to monitor you.
5 reasons to track time as a remote worker
1. Stick to your contracted hours
“I work from home around my children’s schedules, so I am often back and forth between work and personal life. It’s becomes dangerously easy to overwork, as time just slips my mind.” – Laurie, designer
As a home worker, you’re at a heightened risk of burnout, likely to work longer hours and take fewer breaks than if you were working from the office. This quickly becomes dangerous when the nature of your work lacks neat boundaries. When you’re firefighting lots of different things, managing multiple clients and projects, or simply have lots of asks on the go, it’s easy to forget about how much you’ve actually been working. Automatic time tracking is one of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t work beyond what you’re contracted to work, providing a useful running total of your hours each day.
2. Document any overtime
In case you do slip into the red zone, automatic time tracking again has you covered. It provides a flawless record of your daily work hours – and by extension overtime. If you have a compensation agreement with your employer, this ensures you receive pay for all the overtime you work; if you don’t, it allows you to adjust the rest of your working week to counterbalance it, ensuring you stay within your capacity. Ensuring your manager can also see your overtime is useful in itself – it highlights that your workload is unmanageable, helping you get the right support, check unreasonable expectations and keep work distribution fair.
3. Keep your work visible
“Working remotely in a small team, we need to keep our work transparent so we can help each other plan and improve every day. It’s essential so everyone knows who’s doing what.” – Menn, developer
In terms of simply surfacing everything you’re working on and sharing progress with colleagues, automatic time tracking is second to none. By accurately recording everything you work on for you, all your work is accounted for and can be easily shared publicly with your team. This is particularly important for retainer-based project work, ensuring that everyone can see how many hours they’re putting in against what’s been budgeted. It makes it easier to keep your employer informed of what you’re working on too, ensuring you’re prioritizing the right tasks and your efforts stay visible.
4. Improve self-management
"It’s really helpful for planning your week or even month ahead, and seeing what you actually end up doing.” – Vanessa, marketer
While being in complete control of your schedule can be hugely liberating, it’s also pretty anxiety-inducing. Without colleagues or bosses around, you’ll need to create a winning structure for your day to stay focused. With automatic time tracking, you have both the insight and apparatus to do so. It effectively holds a mirror up to the way you work, showing you how long different tasks take and how much time you are giving to each project. It can also reveal the inefficient processes, noisy apps and distractions that hold you back. Armed with greater self-knowledge on how you produce your best work, you can then create a more considered schedule, parcelling out the right time to each task and blocking perennial distractions.
5. Gauge your WFH productivity
"Keeping track of daily habits helps me a lot. I like to see what I spend my hours on and how much time I actually use on something." – Anja, copywriter
Apart from revealing the intricacies of how you work, time tracking can help you step back and appreciate its immensity. It’s a powerful tool when it comes to self-recognition – allowing you to visually map out everything you’ve achieved in a day. It effectively provides a complete history of your productivity, which is useful for gauging your progress as well as providing evidence to make the case for improvements – whether that’s a salary review, new responsibilities or securing more remote working.