Time tracking industry is growing at a staggering rate. With more and more demand for a functional and well-rounded solution, time trackers are developing into pretty sophisticated business optimization tools. This means that now you can find so many features in almost any solution that it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever use every single one of them. But, for now, let’s go back to the basics.
One of the most fundamental forms of tracking time is system idle time tracker software. What this functionality does is detect when each employee uses their computer and when they’re ‘idle’. Being idle doesn’t necessarily mean that their computer is turned off, which is the real beauty of it. Employees’ time is being recorded as idle while they’re not using their computers for more than, for example, 20 minutes - when they’re not typing or clicking or even scrolling down a page. The opposite of idle time is active time.
Since time management apps are used for detecting and measuring how long employees spend on various digital activities and tasks done on their computers, it can give you very detailed insights into employees’ active time. However, system idle time tracker software can’t tell you anything about how idle time is used, except how long it lasts and when it happens.
So, why should you even bother looking at this metric at all?
As it turns out, just this seemingly tiny piece of information, especially in combination with the possibility to manually add offline time, which we’ll talk about later, can be pretty valuable for performance evaluation and workflow organization. Let’s take a look at the four most obvious examples.
1. Getting a Hang of Break Times
Flexible hours are becoming a standard in companies’ work policies. While this is certainly great for employee satisfaction and work-life balance, it’s not so convenient when you want to know when your employees come to work or take breaks.
System idle time tracker software takes care of this issue by outlining all the gaps in active computer use. If employees’ work is strictly tied to their computers, being idle probably indicates that they’ve decided to take a break from work. This metric can be aggregated on a team level, which will show you the average period when all employees in one team are unavailable.
This information can be extremely handy for scheduling meetings. If you know when everyone on the team is in, you can organize a meeting at the time that’s convenient for everyone instead of pulling some people away from their well-earned coffee. The same goes for assigning tasks - you can be sure when an employee is working so that you can better estimate whether they’re available to take on an assignment.
2. Having an Overview of Offline Activities
We’ve mentioned manual offline time, and now is the time to explain what it is. Basically, it’s the feature that enables you to manually add offline activities to the periods registered by your system idle time tracker software. This way, instead of just seeing idle time as a blank that could be anything, you can get insights into whether employees spent this time having a cup of coffee, in a meeting or talking to a client.
Even though this information is added manually, either by employees themselves or by you as a manager, and so is not 100% fool-proof, it can still give you quite a nice overview of how this time is spent. This is a good way to overcome some of the common misconceptions about time tracking data, namely that all inactive time implies slacking off, but it will also help you in other ways as well, as we’ll see in the next section.
3. Estimating Productivity
As indicated earlier, system idle time tracker software can be an excellent source of data on how offline time is used, which can act as an additional way to get a more complete picture of your employees’ workplace productivity. As we’ve also mentioned before, a time tracking app can very easily measure the productivity of each employee during the time they spend actively using their computers. This is done automatically and you get ready-made reports. But manually added offline time can provide an indication of whether the other portion of their day was spent productively or not.
This way, you’ll get a bigger and more complete picture of employee productivity, which will tell you exactly how company time is used. It will also enable you to compare employee performance during active and inactive time in order to see where the most serious distractions lie and where to start if you need to improve productivity.
4. Discouraging the Slackers
One last advantage of tracking idle time that we’re going to discuss here is the fact that it can act like a deterrent to slacking off at work. Right away, it might not be totally obvious how this is supposed to happen, but the basic principle is simple and it goes something like this: your employees know that their idle time is being tracked (provided, of course, you tell them about time tracking, which is strongly advisable), so they’ll be less likely to slack off, at least for fear of getting caught.
As a result of this perception of system idle time tracker software, your workers will be way more motivated to spend more of their time actively working. Of course, this tactic alone isn’t enough to make this situation sustainable, so you’ll need to employ other strategies to keep the productivity high. But it’s certainly a good start.
We have seen throughout this text that tracking idle time can be almost just as useful as tracking the time employees spend actively using their computers. Whether you do it to get more insights into workplace productivity, to find out when your employees take breaks so that you can better organize their workflow, or just to have a more complete overview of how office time is used, using this feature will make your management a little bit more informed and your teams a little bit more productive and accountable.