Do you really need to track your employees time?

There are constantly more ads going around (and I’m not going to link to any) where they say to track your employees time, for a variety of reasons, from being sure that they are actually doing work, to being able to keep tabs on them, to many more reasons. There are a variety of debates on why you may or may not want to track your employees time.

There are many things that aren’t done on a computer (most of the time tracking software is installed on a computer), from having an in-person meeting, to talk with coworkers about a project, to just simply having water-cooler chat. So when a software sees a space of time where the computer is done nothing, it could report it as “unproductive” but in fact it would be the exact opposite just without being front of and using a computer.

If someone knows they are being tracked by using software like this then could show the company don’t trust the employee, and the employee most likely will start to slowly not trust the company. If an company can’t trust an employee, why should the employee trust the company? A range of employees have said once they know they are being tracked will do whatever they can to stop the tracking, and in fact numerous employees have said that they work less because they know they are being tracked.

A range of software and / or companies also requires the webcam and microphone to be on all the time while working so that the software can track them more, or so the boss can quickly chat with them through video conference. Some have asked if it is legal for the employee to be doing this tracking, and there are numerous posts along with a good discussion about it on Reddit. This isn’t how it is done in an office (you can’t just go up to somewhere in the middle of their work and ask for a chat) so why is it being done now?

Some may say that a company isn’t entitled to know exactly what an employee does during the workday, however if you are working on a company computer, using the computer internet, and accessing company resources then the company already knows. And some say there are many other ways employees are been tracked while at work. Certainly there is an argument about as long as the work gets done why should the company care how I spend my workday. A minority of companies need to know exactly how long you spend on a project so they can bill that to another company or there are various other reasons why.

A number of employees may say if we are being time tracked, why not everyone in the company, including the CEO. Numerous people may think this is ridiculous, but many CEO’s can actually benefit from knowing where their time goes.

Of course there are many other agreements or disagreements talking about time tracking employees, so I would advise you to read timecamp, beebole and David Heinemeier Hansson’s point of view to start.

This was inspired by a post on the Washington Post and David Heinemeier Hansson’s twitter thread.

I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. I won’t be posting everyday but you can join in yourself by learning more and visiting https://100daystooffload.com/.