It has been a strange few years for the workplace. In 2019 and prior, remote work was an elusive phenomenon. Then in 2020, lockdowns and travel restrictions made working from home common in white collar jobs. Now in 2022, a significant number of workers still log on remotely. In the US, 22% of the workforce will be remote by 2025. This trend is similar in other OECD countries.
For the jobs that are able to have it, remote work remains an employee favorite. Employees who work from home report being happier and more engaged with their job than they were at the office. Sources of their happiness include elimination of a lengthy commute and greater flexibility in the work schedule.
Alongside the benefits of remote work, however, there are also a few challenges. Greater flexibility can also translate into an erosion of the boundary between domestic and working life. 3 in 4 remote workers experience stress and burnout at work. 43% say they are more likely to work past full-time in a remote position. For many, this is a longer time commitment than they had in the office. One cause of longer hours is employees finding it hard to “unplug” from their jobs during lunch or at the end of the day. Taking lunch away from one’s computer is a proven way to refresh the mind, but not enough workers do it.
When the stress and burnout become too much, workers lose what made remote work attractive to them in the first place. Remote workers would benefit from tools to track their time logged into work. For too long, time tracking has been seen as the tool of the employer. It is true that employers want to hold workers accountable for their hours worked. However, when employees track their own time, they can identify where the most hours are being spent. Once they know where the time sinks are, workers can prioritize the tasks most important to them. They can organize their work days and take appropriate breaks.
Time tracking can be a revolutionary tool, but it all comes down to its implementation. In the US alone, filling timesheets wastes billions every day in lost productivity. Common issues include employees forgetting to log their hours or submitting timesheets with errors in them. One issue is the method through which hours are logged. 38% of employees still use traditional paper timesheets and punch cards in the US. These methods don’t translate well to remote employees.
What time tracking technology can businesses use instead? Smaller organizations may use shareable spreadsheets like Google Sheets to log everyone’s hours. Such a spreadsheet can become unwieldy in a larger organization. Some businesses have looked into higher tech solutions like biometric data. Using the fingerprint scanners on a phone to log in via app could be a potential way to track when a workday starts. Certain businesses have also used GPS data to track delivery employees or door-to-door sellers, but this raises privacy concerns.
In order for time tracking to truly benefit the employee, it can’t place an undue burden on their time. If logging hours becomes one more task a worker must keep up with, that defeats the purpose of gaining insight into the work day. At the same time, remote employees must be able to log hours as conveniently as on-site employees do. One possibility is facial recognition software. Similar to biometric data, employees can scan their face when they log in and out. Anti-spoof detection makes the software difficult to fool, ensuring accurate records. Privacy concerns may still exist in this arrangement, however.