As a team leader, you want your team members to be as productive as possible to make the team (and your overall organization) successful. You also want them to be happy, satisfied workers who don’t struggle with burnout or underappreciation. You can manage both of these concerns with team time tracking.
At one point, we used time tracking only to calculate salaries and paid time off. But in the age of data, time tracking offers numerous additional benefits – for businesses and individual employees. To be competitive, you should take advantage of this powerful technique
In this guide on team time tracking, we explain what it is, how it works, the benefits you can get from it, and how to implement it in your team.As a team leader, you want your team members to be productive, happy, and satisfied without struggling with burnout or underappreciation. You can manage all of that with team time tracking. Click To Tweet
What is Team Time Tracking?
Team time tracking is the measurement and documentation of the time spent on various work-related activities across your entire team. It’s the practice of recording the activities of you and your team. Clients and customers use this to maintain healthy productivity and produce accurate timesheets for clients and customers.
The purpose of time tracking is to help you and your team understand exactly how you spend your time. This information can help you optimize your workflow to get more value from your work. Even small changes in a team (or across multiple teams in an organization) can profoundly impact your efficiency and profitability.
How does it work? To track your team’s time, you’ll need to implement a system to record what they work on and the duration of the activity. There are lots of options here. You might use a simple spreadsheet or dedicated time tracking software. We’ll get to these in a bit.
Benefits of Time Tracking for Teams
Before we talk about how to implement team time tracking, it’s essential to know its benefits. These will help you understand how to get the most value from your team’s time tracking system.
Better Visibility Into Team Performance
As a manager, it’s crucial to have an accurate understanding of your team’s performance. You need to know how long tasks take to complete. Do they meet your estimates, or is there a hidden time cost you never considered? You need to know where your team members excel and where they need help to manage the team effectively. Visibility also helps you identify high performers and underachievers who may require different management approaches.
Better Management of Remote Teams
Distributed work is the future. Many teams include members from all over the world, often working opposite hours. Evaluating how they spend their time is nearly impossible without some kind of team time tracking system.
Improved Productivity and Accountability
Team time tracking has the powerful benefit of making your team accountable for their work. It motivates them to work effectively and ethically. Ultimately, this improves productivity because employees are empowered to understand how they can work more effectively and efficiently, thereby giving them a better work/life balance and creating a healthy company culture.
Your job, however, is to make it clear that you aren’t emphasizing fast-paced work. You don’t want to create a burnout culture where everyone feels compelled to race through their work to make their timesheets impressive. That’s not healthy for them, you, your clients, or anyone else. Encourage them to take their time but work responsibly.
Better Resource Allocation
Team time tracking allows you to better allocate people, budgets, and other resources to your clients and projects. Ultimately, this makes your team more efficient and profitable.
For instance, let’s say you notice that your team has exceeded your client’s budgeted hours. Instead of continuing to work for free, you would know about the overage immediately, allowing you to direct your team to work on other tasks until the client’s allotted time refreshes.
Furthermore, time tracking gives you a granular understanding of each team member so you can assign them to suitable projects. If you have a team member who excels at meeting deadlines, you might move them to high-priority projects.
Improved Billing Accuracy
Like many organizations, you may lose revenue due to inaccurate billing practices. If you charge your clients based on time, you must understand exactly how many hours your team devoted to the client’s project. Time tracking software will show you exactly how many hours you spend on each client.
If you charge by the project, you still need to know how long a project takes to provide accurate estimates to your clients and potential clients. For instance, if a client wants a quote for a restaurant website, you could look through your team’s timesheets to uncover how much time the previous restaurant website took to build.
Increased Employee Morale
It may seem counterintuitive, but in many cases, team time tracking can boost the morale of your team members, but only if you use the collected data well. For instance, with the help of your time data, you might…
- Identify underperformers to uncover how you can help them improve.
- Identify high achievers and reward them for their performance and effort.
- Catch potential burnout before it occurs and give your team the support they need.
- Adjust schedules, so team members work on the projects they enjoy.
These actions and others can help improve your team’s morale, thereby developing a healthy and productive culture everyone enjoys. Positive cultures encourage people to stick around and help you attract quality talent to your team. Over time, this benefit can tremendously affect your proficiency as a team and your revenue.
Time Tracking Methods
When tracking your team’s time, you typically have three options: paper timesheets, spreadsheets, and time tracking apps.
1. Paper Timesheets
A paper timesheet is a document where employees submit their work times. They use a clock or stopwatch to record the start and end numbers. Traditional timesheets aren’t very sophisticated. They typically only require start times, end times, break times, and overtime. Depending on the team’s needs, a timesheet may ask for more detail, but this is rare.
Timesheets are relatively simple but prone to errors. Employees might forget to document some tasks or lie about how long tasks take to complete. You or a supervisor must go through each timesheet to glean useful information. This chore can be tedious and time-consuming if you have a dozen employees and downright impossible if you have hundreds. Plus, handling paper is messy and cumbersome. If you lose a timesheet, you won’t have any record of the employee’s work.
A spreadsheet is just a digital version of a paper timesheet. You might have your team members submit an Excel sheet weekly or contribute to a shared Google Sheet. Spreadsheets also reduce some of this work by making automatic calculations and can be integrated with other tools, especially if you use a cloud-based app like Google Sheets. There’s also less risk of losing data.
That said, spreadsheets come with the same disadvantages as paper timesheets. They rarely include enough data to make sound business decisions, and your team must manually stop and start timers.
3. Time Tracking Apps
Your third option for team time tracking is – undeniably – the most suitable for most modern businesses. Time tracking software provides everything you need to track employee hours efficiently and effectively and eliminates the need for manual data entry. This benefit is incredibly valuable if you need to track the time of remote team members.
It’s essential to use an automatic time tracking app like Timing that doesn’t require your team to start or stop timers. Timing automatically tracks your work, so you can reproduce exactly what you worked on at any time. By doing this, Timing produces timesheets you can trust. Furthermore, it’s designed for teams so managers can see their team members’ performance.
Furthermore, Timing lets you organize your tasks by projects and clients. You can see, for example, exactly how long you spent working for Client A versus Client B. And since Timing tracks each window’s usage, it can tell you how long you spent in Photoshop or Google Docs or how long you spent in meetings.
How to Implement Team Time Tracking
You’re ready to track your team’s time, but you aren’t sure how to get started. Fortunately, it’s not that complicated and won’t take long. What’s important, however, is that you motivate employees to participate in the system and support your efforts. Let’s go through the critical steps to implement team time tracking.
Step 1. Explain Why Team Time Tracking is Important:
Your first step is to communicate to your team why tracking their time is important. Focus on the benefits to everyone: Team time tracking helps you adequately compensate them for their work. If someone is working overtime, explain that you want to ensure they get paid. If they use their paid time off, you want to ensure you recorded accurately so they never miss out.
Additionally, team time tracking helps create a better work environment for everyone. Using the collected data, you can reorganize people’s workloads to avoid overworking. You can also focus people on projects that match their skills and tasks they find satisfactory.
Then, be honest about the benefits to your business. Explain that by analyzing the time tracking data, you can see where the company needs to put more or fewer resources. A healthy company that runs as efficiently as possible is good for everyone.
Step 2. Provide Assurance That You Won’t Punish Your Team
When you tell your employees that you intend to engage in team time tracking, some will be nervous that you will micromanage every moment of their day and punish them for small lapses in productivity. Carefully explain that you intend to use time tracking to improve transparency, boost productivity in a healthy way, and better understand how the organization spends its time.
Be very clear that you are not approaching time tracking as an opportunity to micromanage your team or any freelancers you hire. Explain that you don’t care about the exact minute they clock in or whether they take an extra few minutes on their lunch break. The sooner you manage their doubts and fears, the more likely they will embrace time tracking honestly.
Step 3: Choose a Simple Time Tracking Solution
One of the most prominent mistakes organizations make when it comes to time tracking is choosing a confusing and time-consuming solution. If you want your team to buy into the new system, you must make it easy.
In the past, companies had employees fill out complex timesheets on physical paper. Some companies had their teams use punch cards. These systems are tedious, prone to errors, and get in the way of actual work. In the digital age, none of that is relevant anymore.
Your time tracking solution should be digital-based and profoundly easy to operate. It should automate everything so your team spends more time working on projects that meet your business needs than fumbling with timesheets and complex processes. If you minimize your team’s contributions and required effort, there’s a better chance they will buy into the system and participate with enthusiasm.
Step 4. Create a Clear Process with Guidelines
Explain and document how you expect your team to use the time tracking solution. Your employees will abandon the system if they don’t understand it or if there are no consequences for neglecting to use it.
Carefully explain how your team will organize projects and tasks, what they should track and shouldn’t, what extra information they need to document, and any other variables that are important to you. Resolving these issues before implementing team time tracking is key to creating a smooth transition.
Keep in mind, however, that you can avoid many of these issues with time tracking software like Timing. Timing tracks time automatically, so there are no timers to start and stop. It logs everything the user does without fail, so nothing gets lost. Each user can see exactly what they did with their time, while managers only see the per-project breakdown without app details. This ensures user privacy is always maintained.
Step 5: Help Your Team Get Onboard With the New System
Once your team’s time tracking system is in place, spend some time helping your employees learn how to use it properly. Give them a general presentation and demonstration of the time tracking solution you chose, but then plan to spend some one-on-one time answering questions and resolving the issues. If multiple people ask the same question, assume that everyone is asking it as well, so it might be a good idea for a refresher meeting.
Step 6: Encourage Feedback From Your Team
Once time tracking is in place, encourage your team to come to you with their questions and concerns. Their feedback can help you optimize the process and the time tracking tool you choose. Plus, your employees will be grateful you take their comments seriously. This is key to boosting their cooperation.
Step 7: Practice Empathy With Your Team
When you review your team’s time logs, avoid the temptation to chastise, criticize, or punish them for what you learn. Remember that your goal is to improve your team’s effectiveness, but that won’t happen if they see you as the enemy who polices every moment of their day.
If a team member regularly finishes tasks ahead of time, don’t admonish them for failing to seek more work. Instead, commend them for their excellent productivity and ask how they can share their success with the rest of the team. Use them as a resource to make everyone else better.
And if an employee is constantly working, but failing to complete projects (or perhaps working overtime to get things done), work with them to come up with a solution that meets your business needs without impacting their quality of life. Treat your team like people, not robots that you expect to always work at maximum efficiency.
Timing: The Best Time Tracking App for Teams
The time tracking app you choose to track your team’s time is your biggest decision, so you shouldn’t take it lightly. You need a simple, effective, and easy-to-use tool. It should provide you with lots of actionable data without violating your or your team’s privacy. You get all of that with Timing.
Unlike most time tracking apps, Timing doesn’t require anyone to start or stop timers. It records everything you do on your Mac – every app, document, and website you use – including the full file path or URL.
Most importantly, Timing supports sharing projects and time entries with team members while preserving your and their privacy. And if you work away from your computer, you can add manual hours at any time for a complete picture of your work.
One fantastic benefit that team leaders love is the detailed reporting that Timing offers. You can see what you – or someone on your team – did at any point during the week, day, or hour. You can export the data as a PDF, XLSX, CSV, or HTML to create timesheets and invoices.
Team members love Timing’s privacy features. Tracked times are stored locally and never leave your computer (unless you elect to sync your data across multiple devices or export a report). Private/incognito browser tabs are automatically discarded, and you can add activities to an exclusion list to prevent them from being tracked altogether.
Timing is one of the most popular time tracking apps because of its simplicity, comprehensive monitoring, and worker friendliness. It’s a solid addition to your team time tracking program. Get the free 30-day trial and see for yourself! Download a free 30-day trial of Timing now.