Those were weird years for the job. In 2019 and before, remote working was an elusive phenomenon. Then, in 2020, travel lockdowns and restrictions made working from home common in white-collar jobs. Now in 2022, a significant number of workers are still logging in remotely. In the United States, 22% of the workforce will be remote by 2025. This trend is similar in other OECD countries.
For jobs that may have it, remote working remains a favorite with employees. Employees who work from home report that they are happier and more involved in their work than they were in the office. Sources of their happiness include the elimination of a long commute and greater flexibility in working hours.
In addition to the benefits of working remotely, however, there are also some challenges. Greater flexibility can also result in an erosion of the boundary between home and working life. 3 out of 4 remote workers experience stress and exhaustion at work. 43% say they are more likely to work beyond full time in a remote location. For many, this is a longer time commitment than they had in the office. One of the causes of longer hours is that employees find it difficult to “unplug” from their work during lunch or at the end of the day. Taking lunch away from your computer is a proven way to refresh your mind, but not enough workers do.
When stress and burnout become excessive, workers lose what made remote work attractive to them in the first place. Remote workers would benefit from tools to track the time spent while they log into work. For too long, time tracking has been seen as an employer’s tool. It is true that employers want to hold workers accountable for their hours worked. However, when employees keep track of their time, they can identify where most of the hours are spent. Once they know where downtime is, workers can prioritize the tasks that matter most 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 United States alone, filling up time sheets wastes billions every day in lost productivity. Common problems include employees forgetting to log their hours or submitting timesheets with errors. One problem is the method by which hours are recorded. 38% of employees still use traditional paper time sheets and punch cards in the United States. These methods don’t translate well for remote employees.
What time tracking technology can companies use instead? Smaller organizations can use shareable worksheets like Google Sheets to track everyone’s time. Such a spreadsheet can become cumbersome in a larger organization. Some companies have looked at more advanced technological solutions such as biometric data. Using fingerprint scanners on a phone to log in via the app could be a potential way to track the start of a work day. Some companies have also used GPS data to track delivery employees or door-to-door vendors, but this raises privacy concerns.
In order for time tracking to be truly beneficial to the employee, it cannot impose an undue burden on their time. If time recording becomes another activity a worker has to keep up with, that defeats the purpose of gaining insight into the working 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 biometrics, employees can scan their faces when logging in and out. Anti-spoofing detection makes the software difficult to fool, ensuring accurate recordings. However, privacy issues may still exist in this agreement.
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