According to 2015 Gallup research, 37% of workers in the United States telecommute, compared to just 9% in 1995.
Having some form of remote work policy is now a common business norm, but that doesn’t mean businesses—and remote employees—are adequately prepared to handle the challenges of remote work.
Trust, of course, is a big factor. No manager who doesn’t trust their employees is going to sign off on remote work—not when there’s the danger of at-home distractions to an already unreliable team member.
And on the worker’s side, no one wants to go unrecognized for work done, especially when the business that they work for has put trust in them with a remote work policy.
If you are part of the 37% of workers who work from home, it’s important to be as transparent as possible about how you spend your working hours.
Work from home productivity and trust
Your team needs to know what you are doing. And it is essential to stay motivated and focused, especially if you are working from home.
For that, no one can dispute the countless benefits technology bring us. It helps us better communicate with our team, organize our work, share documents, and synchronize, no matter where people are located.
So if you are telecommuting, you need to take the best out of those online tools to optimize your work. Some are very popular, such as task managers, chat and video conference apps, and document storage software. But what about a time tracking application?
Time tracking software is one of the most important tools for any remote workers.
If you’re interested in optimizing your work from home productivity, read on to learn the five reasons why you should track your time as a remote worker.
1. You will stay focused
Mark Murphy explains in this article that “When people can block out interruptions at work, there’s a 67% chance they’ll leave feeling like ‘today was a really successful day.’ That’s a huge change in accomplishment just based on whether we get interrupted frequently or we can block out interruptions.”
Working from home can bring quite a few distractions: a dishwasher to empty, phone calls with your teammates (who can’t know when you’re busy since you’re not in their field of vision), and emails popping up.
Staying focused should be a top priority, and tracking your time can help you achieve that.
Time tracking applications usually have a timer that you can trigger manually, which will help you focus on a specific task.
It’s easy to be distracted by any kind of notification. But if you’ve started a timer, you will be more aware of the time spent checking on those notifications because the timer is continuing to scroll by. Result: you will get back to your task quickly!
2. You will learn how you spend your time
When you track something, be it your exercise routine, writing time, work time, etc., you become more aware of the reality of the situation.
Let’s say that I think this article will take me 2 hours and 30 minutes to write, so I set 2h30 of time planned in my time tracking application. Then I start the timer any time that I’m working on this article. I just finished this article and realized it took me 2 hours and 59 minutes total to write (research + writing + proofreading). What an easy way to learn how I spend my time!
I’m sure to track my time on everything—including writing this article
I also decided to learn how many hours per day I lose to notification distractions. So I created a task, “Notifications,” and every time I got distracted I triggered the task timer. I tested this on three different days and was surprised to discover that I can be distracted for up to three hours per day!
3. You will improve the way you allocate your time
So now that you’ve learned how you spend your time, you understand how tracking your time will help you better manage your daily work.
Essentially, if you know how much time you spend on a specific task, you can better allocate your time over your projects.
“[Because of time tracking], I can measure the time we spend on a project to better allocate our resources later, and on the other hand it allows me to bill our customers more clearly… Managing that information in Excel is frankly not agile,” explains Nicolas Journiac, the creative director for the Solocal Group.
Let’s say that you are more productive in the morning. Designate the tasks that take you more time for that time of day. Not only you will be more organized but you will also be able to achieve more.
When using a time tracking tool, you can see how much time is needlessly spent in certain areas, and which areas need more time and energy.
And an extra tip: make sure to use a time tracking tool with great dashboards to analyze your data quickly.
4. You will free up some time
Time tracking applications let you find out how much time you are spending on specific tasks, where you lose time during certain business practices, and allow for better time management.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Where can I find more time?”
When you work from home you can really be more productive since there will be fewer interruptions than at the office.
According to a 2016 survey of American remote workers, about 90% of people who work from home feel that they’re more productive than when they’re in an office. So if you track your time you will soon realize that you can use the time you’ve freed up to learn new skills, write for yourself, or exercise a bit more, for example.
5. You will increase your overall productivity
Many managers and employees push back at the idea of time tracking. “Tracking work” is commonly known as something negative.
However, as we have seen in the four sections above, time tracking is probably the best way to understand your organization and identify interruptions before they become a real problem for you and your team. Once implemented, time tracking will no doubt be the difference between a chaotic team and a well-run organization.
Not only will you and your team understand how you spend your time and then make adjustments, but it will also help you predict future workflows.
There are many tools to track your time so you first need to make sure to choose the right one. My advice would be to have a single tool to track your time, manage your tasks, and discuss things with your coworkers.
According to a PGi report, telecommuting boosts workers’ success, so be sure to make the most of it!
More on remote work productivity?
Of course, time tracking isn’t the only way to stay focused when working from home. How do you stay focused?
Do you think time tracking is a great resource for remote workers, or burdensome and inflexible? Do you feel more productive when you track your time? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!