Introduce time tracking

You’ve decided to start tracking your team’s time. You understand the benefits of time tracking and believe it’s right for your team and organization. Your next step is to get your team on board and kick off the time tracking program.

Time tracking is a powerful asset for teams of all sizes, including in-house employees and teams of outsourced freelancers. Time tracking offers better productivity, accountability among team members, faster work production, and accurate billing when used properly. 

Some team members are naturally suspicious of team time tracking. This hesitancy is often due to preconceived notions of what time tracking is and how it works. They may assume that you’ll use it to force them to work unreasonably hard or fast. Obviously, this isn’t your intent, so thoughtfully introducing your time tracking program to your team is essential. You can soothe many of their fears with the right information. 

Many teams welcome time tracking as a powerful tool to improve productivity and gain insight into their work. This article offers a step-by-step guide to introducing time tracking to your team. Then we illuminate some common concerns team members make about time tracking and how you can address them. 

Time tracking offers better productivity, more accountability among team members, faster work production, and accurate billing when used properly  Share on X

8 Steps to Introduce Time Tracking to Your Team

With a bit of planning, implementing time tracking should be easy. Let’s go over the key steps you should follow to introduce time tracking to your team. 

Step 1: Use the Right Time Tracking App

While it’s possible to track your team’s time with spreadsheets or paper forms, those methods are outdated, inaccurate, and inefficient. So your first step is to choose the right time tracking app for your team. This tool should be simple, effective, and easy to use, providing lots of actionable data for team members and managers. 

That’s why Timing is the perfect time tracking tool for teams. 

Unlike most time tracking apps, Timing doesn’t require any user to start or stop a timer. It tracks everything you do on your Mac – every app, document, and website you use – including the full file path or URL. A team administrator can create a team, invite members, and view their reports without violating anyone’s privacy (more on this in a minute). 

Timing is designed for teams. After installing the app and accepting the team invitation, team projects appear on the interface. All team members must do is assign app usage to team projects (just as they would with private projects). When it is time to fill out timesheets for your boss, Timing presents the time it tracked for you in a timeline so that you quickly see when you worked on what. This means that filling out timesheets via the visual timeline will be much faster, easier, and more fun with Timing than it used to be! 

For more information about Timing, check out our overview for teams and our guide on using Timing for team members. When you’re ready to jump in, download a free 30-day trial of Timing.

Step 2: Explain the Benefits of Time Tracking

Any time you implement a new policy or program with your team, you must communicate with them about why you’re doing it. If you throw it at them without explanation, they’ll likely assume you’re doing it to micromanage their work. But if you explain why you think it’s right for the team, they are more likely to buy into the experience. 

Bring your team together and explain the benefits of time tracking, such as:

  • Better visibility into team performance – You’ll learn how long tasks really take so you can assign team members appropriately and offer guidance and support where needed. It also helps you identify hidden costs that need to be invoiced.
  • Better management of remote teams – By understanding how your team spends their time, you can create a happy and sustainable work environment, especially if everyone works remotely.
  • Improved productivity and accountability – Employers can make work more efficient by understanding how everyone works. Ultimately, this can lead to a better work/life balance for everyone. It does not mean pushing the team to burnout. 
  • Better resource allocation – You can allocate people, budgets, and other resources to clients and projects in a smarter way, thereby saving time and working efficiently.
  • Improved billing accuracy – If you understand exactly how many hours your team spends on each project, you can bill those clients appropriately, so everyone gets paid. 
  • Increased employee morale – Better productivity and pay mean higher team morale. 

Take some time with this step. Have discussions with your team. Your goal isn’t just to get everyone’s acceptance (because they might accept but not be happy about it). Your goal is to get their buy-in. Buy-in will happen when the team agrees with your plan and becomes eager to pursue it with you. If they think that time tracking is suitable for everyone, they will dive in enthusiastically and put effort into making it work. 

Step 3: Be Clear About What You Will Track

At first, your team will assume that you’ll track everything, such as their bathroom usage or the two minutes they spend checking their personal email. Obviously, you don’t need to know everything, so it’s important that you’re clear with them about what you will and won’t track.

Privacy is an important topic here. It will come up with your team, so it’s best to address it immediately. With Timing, everyone’s privacy will be protected. As a team administrator, you can not view your team’s apps, documents, and websites. You can only see the total time they spend on each team project. Furthermore, team members’ non-team projects (their personal activities or outside work) remain private and unavailable to the team admin. 

Introduce time tracking

Most importantly, emphasize how time tracking won’t be the single metric you use to evaluate employee performance, talent, or work ethic. Be clear that you will use time tracking to improve everyone, not find ways to rank people against each other or find reasons to replace them. 

Step 4: Consider Offering Incentives

Your team may love your organization and your leadership, but it’s wise to recognize that your relationship has a financial foundation. Your team (whether they are full-time employees or a group of freelancers) won’t have the same “gusto” for adopting new policies as you do, especially time tracking. So if you think they will resist, you can encourage their support by offering financial incentives for compliance. 

How much should you offer? That’s hard to say. Ideally, the amount you offer should be less than what you think you can earn through optimization. (You don’t want to lose money, after all.) For instance, if you think you can recover $4,000/month in inaccurate billing, you might decide to devote a third of it to incentives.

Keep in mind, however, that time tracking doesn’t add much to your team’s workflow if you use Timing. For one, Timing tracks time automatically without the need to start or stop timers. For another, the team administrator can view reports without team member involvement. This means there are no additional actions for the team to do. 

Step 5: Show Your Team How to Use the App

Before you expect them to track their time, you’ll need to teach your team how to set up and use the time tracking app. Set aside some time to give everyone a demo of the process. Make sure to answer all their questions, so they properly use the app. Troubleshoot any issues they have with their accounts. 

If you choose Timing for your team time tracking app, show them the primary features that will have the biggest impact on their work. Consider the visual timeline, the calendar integration, how to create rules to automatically filter certain activities, and how to manually add time that occurred on a different device or off a device. 

If you use the right time tracking software, this shouldn’t take long. With Timing, there’s little to learn If you use the right time tracking software, this shouldn’t take long. With Timing, there’s little to learn because the app manages everything for you (though your team may find it helpful to take our free email course to learn at their own pace). Once the administrator invites each team member to the team, they can record time towards the projects the admin shared with them. The admin can then view the times they logged in Timing’s web app.

Step 6: Explain How You Will Use the Time Data

The purpose of time tracking isn’t to micromanage your team or catch them “misbehaving.” The point is to use the data to optimize the way everyone works. This might mean shuffling people onto different projects based on their productivity (some people are better at things than others), billing clients more accurately, or understanding where team members need support, training, or resources to perform better.

It’s a good idea to walk your team through all of this using actual numbers. For instance, you could track yourself for a week and then show the team how you found ways to optimize your time or bill clients more. Be clear about how your original assumptions were wrong, and time tracking showed you ways to work better. Focus on building their trust and they’ll buy-into the new system.

Step 7: Listen to Your Team’s Concerns

If your employees aren’t convinced that time tracking will work out well for everyone, listen to their concerns and take them seriously. They may have some concerns that you haven’t anticipated. You can make them much more comfortable with the time tracking program by addressing their issues. 

Even if you can’t solve their concerns, just listening to them and promising to do your best to make it work can make your team more comfortable. Encourage them to continue talking to you about their concerns while implementing time tracking.

Step 8: Schedule a Time to Reevaluate

Before you begin formally tracking your team’s time, schedule a time for some point in the future for the teaBefore you begin formally tracking your team’s time, schedule a time for some point in the future for the team to discuss the time tracking program. Schedule it for 30 or 60 days after you start tracking their team project time. The goal of this meeting is to collect feedback from your team about the time tracking program. Encourage them to jot down their questions or feedback using the time tracking app.

Why schedule the meeting now? Doing so helps make it clear to your team that you care about their opinions and are willing to change the time tracking program based on their feedback. They will know that if they don’t like something, they could advocate for change rather than suffer or look for a new job.

Ready to get started with time tracking for your team? Download a free 30-day trial of Timing now.

Common Concerns About Time Tracking

Introduce time tracking

Here are some common concerns employees make about time tracking and how to respond. These responses will help you and your team smoothly transition into time tracking.

“Are you using time tracking to surveil me all the time?”

Some employees misunderstand time tracking as a surveillance method, especially if you install time tracking software on their personal devices. No one likes having someone look over their shoulder eight hours a day, especially their employer. It creates unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Make it clear that you only want to know how much time they spend on individual tasks and projects. You aren’t tracking their location or asking them to put software on all of their devices, just their work computer, and it will only track specific windows, documents, or URLs that pertain to work-related projects. 

“Are we being punished for underperformance?”

Some employees will immediately assume that time tracking is a punishment for poor productivity in the past. They may wonder if you’re using time tracking as a way to identify who’s underperforming, especially if they work remotely. 

While it may be true that you want to increase productivity, it’s essential to be clear that you’re happy with their performance but always looking for ways to make the team better. This is another time to explain how you’ll use the time tracking data. 

If possible, explain how it will directly affect their work. Will they be assigned to projects that better suit their skills? Can they earn more money due to the optimizations you’ll make? Will you lighten the workload of people who appear to be carrying too much?

“What happens if I forget to start the timer?”

This concern is valid. If they don’t engage the time tracker, there won’t be any data to evaluate, right? Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. If you use time tracking software like Timing that doesn’t require pressing a stop or start timer, this concern is moot. Your employees don’t have to do anything to capture the data, and the team administrator always gets accurate reports. 

“Do you have experience with time tracking? Has it worked for you?”

As a leader, it’s important never to ask your team to do anything you aren’t willing to do yourself. If you hold yourself to a different standard, they will struggle to trust you, and your team’s culture will begin (or continue to) erode.

Before you implement time tracking for your team, having some experience with it yourself is a good idea. Being able to draw from personal experience will make all of your claims about time tracking more credible.

If you have never used time tracking for yourself before, you may want to use it privately for a few weeks before talking to your team about it. This will give you time to learn how to properly use the time tracking app and have enough experience to talk about time tracking. Download a free 30-day trial of Timing.

“Do you expect me to work at maximum productivity all day?”

Team members often have common concerns about time tracking: you’ll expect perfect productivity all day long. They know they don’t work at optimum levels all day (in fact, research shows that no one does), so they fear they won’t meet your new standard.

Explain that you don’t expect them to be hyper-focused all day. You understand that productivity waxes and wanes throughout the day depending on the types and difficulties of their tasks. Explain that you can use time tracking to identify their peak productivity times better and prioritize tasks. In fact, if you write optimizations, you may be able to get the same work done in less time, which would make everyone’s life easier.

“Will you use time tracking to micromanage me?”

Some employees who are confident in their performance will worry that you will use time tracking to enforce arbitrary optimizations that don’t have much impact. They may fear that you will criticize the number of coffees they drink in the day, how long they spend on pleasantries in meetings, or why a regular task took five minutes longer today than yesterday.

First, be clear that you are not interested in micromanaging your team. You just don’t care about the little details. Second, use an automatic time tracking app that doesn’t provide this information to team administrators. Timing, for example, only gives team administrators the total time spent on certain tasks and projects. This type of privacy-focused system ensures that managers get actionable data but can’t invade their team’s privacy. 

“Can my team administrator see my personal projects?”

If your team uses Timing, no. Team administrators can see only the times recorded for projects that belong to that team. Times in personal projects are only visible to their creator. Team administrators can not see which apps, documents, and websites their team members use. Instead, Timing shows a person’s total time on a given team project.

“I’m also concerned about…”

Your team may have concerns that you can’t anticipate, but you can prepare for them with a little forethought. Make an announcement before the official launch of your time tracking program. Ask your team to submit any questions and concerns they may have anonymously. You can address those concerns when you officially announce the program and invite everyone to the tracker. 

Going Forward

With the help of this guide, you should have no trouble introducing time tracking to your team. The key is to be transparent with your team about the new system’s benefits and how you intend to use the data. Make sure to highlight that with Timing, the administrator cannot view everything they do on their computer. Once your team feels comfortable with the app and how you’ll use it, implementing time tracking should be simple. Download a free 30-day trial of Timing now.