Manage remote workers with a time clock

How to Manage Remote Workers and Their Time Clocks

July 19, 2021

Whether you want to extend the flexibility of remote work to your existing in-house staff or you have remote workers that are taking advantage of your flexible work protocols, you need some kind of system to track all those hours and ensure that they're compensated for their time -- and that they're working when they say they're working. That's because when workers are out of the office, it's hard to keep up on who's working and who's not, and that can mean confusion or worse when it comes to payday.

Between all those emails, calls and video conferences, there's real work being done, and tracking it via a remote worker time clock is one of the best ways to make sense of your remote team. Regardless of where they're checking in from, an employee time clock app can give you the same kind of information that you would rely on in the office -- such as when workers start their day, when they take breaks and when they sign off in the evening -- all in a convenient dashboard that gives you what you need to know with just a glance.

That's important because we've seen that employees and workers can get their daily obligations done even when they're not in the office, and offering this kind of flexibility to current and future employees is a great way to retain and attract the best talent, as well as increasing the capability of your company by disconnecting a physical location from getting work done. Along with all the other web based platforms that enable everyone to do more in less time than has been traditionally possible, a remote worker time clock can help you keep tabs on all your remote workers without spending the entire day doing keeping up.

Trust, but Verify

For the most part, it's safe to trust your employees. They're interested in the success of the company just like you are, and they'll be working if they say they're working. Nine times out of 10, there's no problem and no issue with remote workers and the time that they self-report. But there are always exceptions, and you won't know until it's too late if a worker is manipulating your time tracking or trying to get more out of their rate or the hours that they say they're working. 

To catch these outliers, you'd have to spend much of your time tracking and following up on each remote worker, verifying that they're working when they say they are and that company resources aren't being spent on work that may not be happening. Unfortunately, that means burning even more resources on keeping up, and that could work against the whole initiative of providing more flexibility to your workers in the first place. Rather than belaboring the process with more hoops to jump through, it's a better approach to leverage a system specifically designed to help manage those remote hours.

Defining Remote Boundaries

While a remote worker may be working from home, the local coffee shop or anywhere else they have a reliable internet connection, your company will have no idea whether they're working or mailing it in from wherever they are. Sure, you can see emails, phone logs and scheduled meetings, but in those dark times where work is being done outside the purview of a digital breadcrumb trail, it's hard to tell if they're working or hardly working at all.

That's why it's important to define the remote role before everyone starts working from home. After all, if you don't create rules, how can your workers be expected to follow them from outside the office? But when everyone is on the same page, you can start to get a handle on that work day and maximize efficiencies while increasing flexibility for parts of your workforce. 

However, as you attempt to keep tabs on your remote workers, you also need to be careful not to engage in micromanagement. Workers that have every second of their day managed by a superior are far less efficient than workers that get some leeway to stretch their legs, so to speak, and they'll also be more impassioned and greater supporters of your brand and company when they feel like they can make a difference. 

That said, some people prefer to work in the office, and for them showing up and being around others is a crucial piece of what makes them productive. Just like those who feel like they can get more done at home without all the distractions of being in the office, others may thrive in that environment, so don't think that it's a one-size-fits-all approach.

Can Remote Workers Be More Productive?

According to some studies, remote workers are actually more productive than those in the office. This is due to many factors, such as a reduction in distractions at home, as well as common tools that make remote work just as viable as in-house work. Indeed, many companies saw the possibilities of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021. 

Beyond that, most remote workers actually say that they feel more productive when they're working outside of the office, though it does depend on their role and the kinds of interruptions that they're exposed to in a given work day. But while we wouldn't suggest any company go to a 100% remote workforce if they don't want to, there are certain efficiencies and things to be gained by remote work in many instances.

How to Track Time and Attendance

Now that you're ready to extend the possibility of remote work to your employees, you'll need a way to track their hours and attendance. For most, it starts with a remote worker time clock. Unlike physical time clocks that need to be keyed or punched in on site, a remote worker time clock allows your remote workers to check in from wherever they happen to be. 

Also known as a web based time clock or employee time clock, the goal is to help both you and your employees stay on top of the hours that they're working and when they're not. Not only will a remote worker time clock prevent instances of forgetting to log hours, but it can also give you insight into who has checked in on a given day and who has not, which can help you identify potential issues before they become full-blown problems.

Even if you have salaried employees that you don't pay by the hour, it can help to track their hours so that you know how much they're working and that you'll have the necessary documentation if there's ever some kind of labor dispute or legal action that may require you to share documentation of their hours. If you don't have some kind of remote worker time clock, it could cost your company much more than lost productivity.

While you could technically track everything in some kind of spreadsheet, requesting hours from everyone for the most recent period, that often takes much more time and effort than using a specialized piece of software that takes much of the guesswork out of it. Rather than having to spend hours calculating the time worked over a given period for your entire remote workforce, using a remote worker time clock means always having that information at the ready.

Once a worker clocks in, you'll see that they're working and ready to receive correspondence if you need to reach out. At the end of the day, you'll also be able to see who's sticking around for those late requests and who might be checking out early. If you need to run that up for a disciplinary action, you can, and it also means that you can reward those that are putting in extra hours since you'll have the ability to see it all with your remote worker time clock.

Cloud-Based and Multiple Devices

Here at Lathem, we've designed a modern system that is much more advanced than previous iterations you may have been exposed to. Instead of a lackluster web interface that might only work on specific devices or browsers, you'll get something that works with all your devices, OSs and browsers, allowing for easy check-in via a phone, tablet or computer. That can help keep your employees mobile when they're supposed to be on the go without belaboring the process, which is precisely the point.

We've also designed a modern system that keeps up-to-date backups so that your data is never in jeopardy. If you ever experienced a crash with your timekeeping system or you've lost a crucial spreadsheet, you know the havoc that data loss can cause. But with frequent backups in the cloud, you can stay up on everything without worrying about losing it all someday.

For supervisors, a remote worker time clock allows easy viewing and editing of time cards, as well as sending messages to those that may need a friendly nudge to update their account. That can mean easier management even if they're on the go and offsite. Additionally, with convenient time-off request functionality, you may not even have to leave the app to adequately manage your workforce.

Workers don't need to be tethered to a desk. You can set them up with PayClock's free smartphone app requiring that the phone GPS recording be turned on so that you can verify they're where they say they are when punching in or out. With PayClock Online, you'll get it all so that you can manage your remote workforce from anywhere. Get a quote or schedule a demo to find out more. 

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