Use Time Tracking to Increase Employee Efficiency

Paul Mah

Internet users in the U.S. spent over 53 million minutes in the month of May on social networking site Facebook, says statistics company Nielsen in its latest quarterly social media report. And we're not even counting the 565,000 minutes on Twitter and 325,000 minutes on LinkedIn.


Without accompanying statistics on the most frequent times of access, the exact impact of social networks on office productivity is admittedly debatable. Yet the sheer ubiquity and accessibility of social networking services make it illogical not to conclude that at least some of these visits originate from the office.


Throttle, not ban


When confronted with persistent workplace distractions, the knee-jerk response is often to completely block access to the most popular (and disruptive) sites. But is that the right response? From my perspective as a former IT professional, my take is that blocking access to sites costs money and computer resources, lowers morale and usually doesn't work well.


A recent article I read on ReadWriteWeb discussed a different approach as opposed to an outright ban. With reference to helping school kids focus better in class, David Strom suggested slowing these sites down instead of blocking them completely. He put it this way:

You can dial down the speed to specific sites and protocols, and make it something that will take just long enough that most kids will tire of waiting for the page to reload, and move on to their legit studies.


Sounds like a good idea, and I won't doubt this approach could also work for many companies. One glaring downside, though, is that throttling requires the use of moderately sophisticated routing or proxy equipment. Viewed in this context, it is clear that throttling may not be a tenable solution for some of the smaller SMBs out there.


Time tracking as a proactive measure


In the same vein, another suggestion to increase the productivity of employees without incurring hefty network equipment expenses may be the use of time-tracking tools. One tool that I experimented with recently is a web-based service called RescueTime, of which I am a paying user.


How RescueTime works is simple: A client app runs unobtrusively in your System Tray area to collect statistics of various tasks performed at your computer. Be it drafting out a new marketing plan in Word, tidying up some numbers in Excel, responding to emails, or sending out a quick tweet or two on Twitter -- each activity is quietly captured and transmitted to your account on the RescueTime website. This information is then automatically collated into a variety of categories such as Email, Games, Business or Social Networking.


When you log onto your personal Dashboard, the system uses intuitive charts and graphs to present a detailed breakdown of how time was spent. Categorizations can be customized and tweaked -- a social marketer may opt to modify scores for visiting Facebook to show as work, for example.


The ultimate idea behind time tracking is not about playing Big Brother or having a committee decide which sites workers can or cannot visit without a throttling penalty. While banning and throttling are reactive in nature, empowering employees with the tools to monitor their personal productivity is proactive and can yield better results. With a better idea of how their time was spent, employees are more likely to be motivated to remain focused - and to knock off on unproductive time.


Have you employed a similar strategy to increase productivity in your company? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 19, 2011 8:04 AM Andrew Andrew  says:

The new bandwidth management feature in the Kerio Control firewall is perhaps the easiest way to "throttle" sites like Facebook and Youtube.  With a few clicks, Kerio allows you to reserve bandwidth for mission critical stuff for VoIP and Web conferences. At the same time you can make ESPN and Facebook painfully slow.

Sep 23, 2011 12:55 PM Helen Schwick Helen Schwick  says:

I am using Worksnaps service (http://www.worksnaps.net) to track the time of my employees and contractors. I have a geographically diversified work force and many of them work in different time zones, so I have to use a tool to know that they are working as supposed to. Worksnaps comes in handy as it let me visually see their work hours with screen shots, stats of their activities and programs used (similar to RescueTime in some sense). I agree that we should not act as big brother, but tracking time respectfully is important to make everyone be responsible for what they are doing. Just my own experiences, I hope to see how others do this, especially you are running a business relying on people in various locations.

Sep 27, 2011 6:45 PM Jack Jack  says: in response to Helen Schwick

I've also using a time tracking software and it sure helps a lot for me. It is Rescuetime and it works for me very well. It helps me spend time efficiently with more work done. It also helps me get motivated and stay focus to work. It allows me to categorize work from the very important to the less important. This time tracking software has different features it can block website for a period of time. It also has automated tracking software that monitors which application, document, website is actively being use. But eventually it expires and now I'm using different time tracking software that is also a good alternative.

( http://www.timedoctor.com/blog/2011/04/14/compare-screen-monitoring-software )

Aug 23, 2012 1:42 PM Cecilia Tyson Cecilia Tyson  says:
I know a bunch of other companies that use GHG employee management suite to track employee time, pay stubs, etc., all online. It is not very expensive and it's easy to use. Love it! Reply
Oct 26, 2012 8:14 PM emmadcosta emmadcosta  says:
I had been using Replicon's hassle free cloud based Time Tracking (http://www.replicon.com/time-tracking-softwares.aspx) solutions that has increased business efficiency and is quite easy to use at the same time. Reply
Dec 13, 2012 12:45 PM timesheet timesheet  says:
Nice post..really liked it Please try our online cloud and web based time tracking system fully functional for 180 days for 200 users http://www.i-workforce.com/ http://i-workforce.com/free/ http://www.i-workforce.com/demo.html Reply
Dec 14, 2012 6:16 PM Leland Leland  says:
Thanks for the article... ive been using cloud based billing software for a while now, i'd have to say its built for me a sense of foresight i can only credit to being within the cloud. because everything is synced, im starting to understand a general pattern.. thus, being able to plan ahead! highly recommended :) Reply
Jan 2, 2013 6:05 AM Mariya Mariya  says:
Hi Paul, Thanks for sharing this post, its quite necessary to track the time to achieve pre determined goals. I also use a software "Invoicera" to track the time online. http://www.invoicera.com/time-tracking.html Reply
Mar 21, 2013 7:38 AM Employee Tracking Employee Tracking  says:
Employee Tracking is newer and easy or safe to use technology...Information which you gave is very beneficial to aware with the system. Reply
Sep 2, 2013 2:37 AM Jonathan Jonathan  says:
ScheduSoft can provide added efficiency to any organization looking for time tracking software, simply the best in category hosting lots of added and unique features, check them out! Reply
Jun 16, 2014 1:27 PM Jimmy Wills Jimmy Wills  says:
Thanks for this useful information. One more time tracking tool is there that also increases employee efficiency called Proofhub. Has gantt chart and timesheet too. Reply
Jul 8, 2014 4:49 AM Terre­dean Terre­dean  says:
Tracking time is essential to maintain employee efficiency and to keep proper time log. Reply

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