An awesome handy tool such as time tracker software is made to be easy to use. The best online time tracking software has a clean interface, neat reports and all of its features and functionalities are supposed to be intuitive and as self-explanatory as possible.


However, even with the user-friendly interface and all of the other aspects fully optimized for easy handling, taking all of the data at face value and short-sightedly disregarding every other factor of employees’ performance can become dangerous. Especially if you’re not informed enough about what exactly each feature measures and what metrics the reports are based on.


Surely enough, track employee hours app can be your most trusted ally in optimizing workload and managing time and teams, but time tracking is just one (admittedly very important) aspect of performance. So make no mistake - if you don’t take into account other factors when analyzing performance, timecheck software data will lead you to some false beliefs.


The first step in preventing this from happening is to get informed. And this article aims to do exactly that. So, to illustrate the types of deductive pitfalls we were talking about, here are five false conclusions that uninformed use of time tracker software can lead you to:


1. ‘Not Active’ Means Not Working


The first major thing that any business time clock software will notify you of is whether each of your employees is ‘active’ or not. If they’re active, it means they’re using their computer, while being inactive indicates that they’re away from their machines.


If you know that all of the documents employees are supposed to be working on are on their computers or online, your first thought upon seeing that someone is ‘inactive’ might be that they’re not working but wasting time chatting with colleagues or casually drinking coffee.


While this might as well be the case, you shouldn’t completely cross out the possibility that they’re in a meeting, talking to a client over the phone, helping out a colleague with their task or doing some other offline activity that can still be considered working.


Being ‘inactive’ in time tracker software only means that an employee isn’t using their computer. That’s it. The software can’t tell you anything about how that offline time is used, so always double-check before you accuse anyone of slacking off.


2. A Lot of Time in an App Means High Productivity


Let’s move on to the next scenario: Your time clock manager software indicates that an employee has spent the last four hours straight on a platform that you know they use for work. You’re thrilled that they’re so busy at work and you conclude that this is in fact productivity epitomized.


This may sound like a sound conclusion at first but you’ve skipped an essential step in reaching it - asking a very important question:


‘Is this a 4-hour task?’


If your time tracker software has detected that other employees spend on average 2 hours on a similar task, than the employee who spends 4 isn’t really productive. Being productive entails producing something, right?


So in that case, spending a lot of time in a productive app is much more likely to mean that an employee needs some more training and support. Or that they just have really bad focus.


3. A Drop in Productivity Is Always Bad


Some corporate time tracking platforms give you data on productivity trends for each employee - whether it’s going up or down and by how much compared to the last specified period. This is handy if you want to gauge at a glance whether someone is improving, plateauing or getting lazier.


But just like with anything, relying too much on this data without considering anything else can be misleading. For instance, you open up your time tracker software one day and see that your star employee is 15% less productive than last month. Before you start feeling all disappointed, consider these two possible explanations:


Explanation 1: They simply got faster at what they’re doing. If you give them daily tasks that they have to complete and they got much better at it and improved their efficiency, it could simply be the case that they are done with assignments faster and now have more free time to browse their social media or whatever.


Explanation 2: Their previous period was uber-productive. Remember, this trend compares productivity only to the last period. So, for example, if they previously had an exceptionally productive month (because of a really immersive project, a new colleague they wanted to impress or whatever other reason), just going back to normal will register as decreased productivity.


4. One Type of Task Will Always Take the Same Amount of Time


This one goes out to all of you who’ve seen one employee finish a certain task at the record speed that one time and now you decide that’s going to be the norm for all future similar tasks just because your time clock application told you that it’s possible.


While time tracker software can be a great resource when it comes to setting expectations, you have to be careful not to set them too high or too low. Employees don’t work at exactly the same pace and even the performance of a single employee can vary on different days, so one task can be done in 20 minutes by one employee today but another employee may take one hour next time.


So don’t look at isolated cases, but take as many samples as you can get and set your expectations accordingly.


5. Non-Work-Related Activities Are a Waste of Time


We’ve already discussed how interpretation of inactive time can be tricky, but the truth is - so can be evaluating the usefulness of unproductive time, straightforward as it may seem.


First of all, allowing some break time every now and then is good for regaining focus, so letting employees close their work platforms for five minutes every two hours is hardly a waste of time if they go back to work refreshed and productive after that.


And secondly, even what seems like an unproductive app can actually be a source of inspiration for employees, especially if they’re working in a creative industry. Or sometimes even a resource for help with work related problems.


Either way, you shouldn’t disregard ‘unproductive’ activities as a waste of time without considering the direct or indirect benefits they bring to your employees’ performance.


Conclusion


Time tracker software can tell you a lot about how your employees work and what they spend their time on, but taking these insights at face value without considering what could have caused them or how your decisions might impact your employees can lead you to some false conclusions. Even though you should use time tracking to quantify your KPIs, you need to trust your judgement first. And unfortunately, there’s no app for common sense.


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