Is Automatic Time Tracking as Good as It Seems?

5 min readDec 15, 2020
Photo by Moritz Kindler

Time tracking allows you to measure the hours that your employees are committing to their daily workload. By monitoring their timesheets, you can ensure they are investing their weekly required hours. You can also measure the following through time tracking:

  • Employee productivity or lack thereof
  • Overload or insufficient workload depending on overtime or missing hours
  • Project scheduling and deadline achievements
  • Requested time off and vacation days
  • Labor costs during projects

Time tracking is a helpful way to stay organized with your business’ functioning. Ensuring that your team is investing the proper amount of time and productivity into their work will help you thrive as you aim for professional success.

What Is an Automated Time Tracker?

Rather than the old-fashioned punch-in / punch-out system, you can invest in automatic time tracking to measure your employees’ hours of labor. It’s a convenient way to monitor time spent in a workday, workweek, or on project tasks.

Automatic time tracking involves downloading software that will measure the amount of time spent on online resources like emails, research, online work-related applications and more. These tools can also inform you when you are using offline programs. This, however, means that if your employee is going onto non-work related websites and programs, it will be included in the report for you to see. For some automatic programs, you can designate what sites indicate productive work and others that are considered distracting and taking away from your work efficiency in the day.

The background automatic time tracking software will measure the length of time that you or your employees spend on various sources and produce daily reports with the totals. This can have many benefits to employers, as the numbers give them workable data to evaluate their team. However, the automated time tracker is quite controversial, as artificial intelligence is the decider of an employee’s work ethic. Enforcing this system could also have negative effects on your relationships with your team.

If you are undecided on implementing an automated time tracker, consider the benefits and drawbacks. Depending on your priorities for your business functions, you can decide whether this approach to time tracking is for you.

Pros of Automated Time Tracking

1. Measures employee productivity

Some of the most valuable information to gain as an employer or business owner is your team’s general productivity levels. Through automatic time tracking, their daily productivity is being tracked. At the end of the day, you will find out from the report how much time your workers invested in completing their designated tasks and what time they wasted on other activities or websites.

The automatic time tracking system begins when a person determines the start of their day. It tracks every time that the mouse stops moving or when typing halts. These moments of inactivity demonstrate when your company time is being wasted and could reveal eye-opening productivity levels. With this information, you can determine solutions to motivate your workers to be more efficient. Otherwise, you can reevaluate whether they are the right fit for what you need in an employee.

2. Offers observational set of eyes

An automated time tracker is a helpful tool for employers who are not in the same workspace as their employees. If your employees are working from home, you need to find ways to determine if they are staying fully committed to their day to day duties among all the home space distractions. Unlike shared office space, you can’t see when your employees step away from their desk, or stop working, or get distracted. That is why this type of software is ideal, as it conveniently tracks the workers’ activity every day, and you can determine if the work from home arrangement is working in your favor or possibly harming your team’s work ethic.

3. Automated means convenience

The automated factor of this time tracking system removes the hassle of manual tracking. It generates the data and numbers in one report, so there is no need to invest any time in the day navigating a confusing timesheet program and inputting work hours. This also means that all the numbers are honest reflections of your employees’ productivity. There is no room for dishonesty since they are not the ones inputting the hours.

Cons of Automated Time Tracking

1. Invasion of your employees’ privacy

A program that monitors all of your employees’ actions on their computers is a considerable breach of their privacy. Unless they are in incognito mode, their search history and all activity from start to the end of the day is traced. This is especially a problem if your employees are working remotely on their personal computers. The content on the computer that may be visited throughout the day could include their family’s online and offline activities. Since it is automatic-processing AI technology, it’s difficult to set privacy limits. Therefore, your employees may feel uncomfortable with the exposure of their private data.

When the automated time tracker is installed on a device, including a phone, it will measure other program data, like a GPS, meaning the employee’s physical locations are shared with their employers. If the employee forgets to indicate their end of the day, all of their movements and private activity is reported to their employer.

2. Culture of distrust

An invasive automated time tracker can cause your employees to feel disrespected as their employer shows little faith in their own reported hours of work. This tracking method could cause hostility as all actions of your employees are policed, giving the impression that you view them as deceitful and slacking in their productivity.

The Best Alternative Tracking Option

Automated time tracking could create an uncomfortable work environment for all parties. Instill trust in your employees to report their own hours through a manual tracking program like actiTIME. That way, they can inform whether certain projects may be taking more time than you allowed them, and you can work together to find a balanced workload that will keep them motivated to commit their time and energy to your business. This will improve morale that coincides with impressive team productivity.




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