What Is Productivity Tracking?

Productivity tracking is a method used by employers and managers to track how employees spend their time at work, the tasks they spend the most time on, and the period when they’re most productive. Employee productivity is tracked with special productivity tracker software that’s available for computer and mobile devices.

Apart from monitoring employee productivity, productivity tracker software – or simply productivity trackers – give managers more insights into how employees spend their working hours, their task progress, overall work hours, and more.

While not all companies adopt this type of employee monitoring practice – as they tend to create a somewhat controlled work environment – they’re completely legal when administered right and can be implemented in any type of business.

How Do Productivity Trackers Work?

Productivity trackers are installed on employees’ work devices such as laptops or tablets in order to collect task progress data in the background during work hours. The tracker in place records employees' work hours, the time of day when they are working, the tasks that take up the most of their time, and their most and least productive hours.

Productivity trackers are designed to comply with global employee privacy regulations, which ensure that this practice doesn’t pass beyond productivity tracking and into employee surveillance. 

At its most basic, productivity tracking tracks the productivity rates of all the work hours for which the employer pays the employees. 

When productivity tracking apps become part of the workspace, managers or employers monitor which employees are doing their job and completing their tasks on time and which are falling behind with their schedule. The productivity tracker also tracks fluctuations in productivity during a workday and work tasks that influence employee productivity, including workload bottlenecks. 

Managers use the information collected from the tracking software to discuss things with underperforming employees. They also reward those who complete their tasks timely.

The Advantages of Productivity Tracking

Productivity tracking software measures and analyzes employee productivity in more detail compared to standard time tracking apps. These trackers can measure employee work hours against billable hours and set off alerts for abnormal behavior, restrict website access, and so much more.

Accurate Statistics

Managers benefit from the implementation of productivity trackers by getting rock-solid proof of work statistics they can use as points of discussion to further train their employees on how to improve their workplace productivity rates for future projects and tasks.

Reducing Hour-Wasting

Productivity tracking helps companies curb their hour-wasting practices that stem from employees spending time on distractions. Managers use a productivity tracker’s features such as website blocking and real-time monitoring to keep employees on track with their daily tasks without having to brood over their shoulders.

Administering Existing Policies More Effectively

When employees use official company communication channels or other types of unauthorized online media on their own behalf, the company is at risk of a data breach. The productivity tracker sends a warning to the administrators when illicit activities are detected in order to prevent a potential security breach.

Tracking Remote Workers

For some companies, productivity trackers are an indispensable tool in cases where the company employs remote workers. Since they work outside of the office setting, they are more susceptible to distractions during work hours without a manager directly overseeing their work. 

When remote workers work with company-issued devices such as company-owned laptops and tablets, the productivity tracking software alerts administrators if the remote employees are misusing their company-issued devices instead of working on billable tasks.

Boosting Employee Morale

Some managers view this type of software as a tool that can be used to boost morale with healthy employee competition, which they believe enhances the workflow in the office. The reasoning behind it is that underperforming employees share the same office space with employees who are being praised by managers and, when exposed to competition, often increase their productivity to catch up with exemplary employees and be rewarded.

The Downsides of Productivity Tracking

Employee Privacy

When a company implements productivity tracking software, this might trigger employees to express concerns about their personal data security. That’s why it’s common practice for managers to create Q/A sessions with employees to explain what information is and what isn’t collected by the tracker and reassure team members that its main purpose is to aggregate work data and find ways to improve the office workflow.

Lack of Trust

When employees are submitted to tracking software, they often lose trust in their employers and managers, which can result in them being disengaged from their tasks. 

Legal Concerns

While employee productivity tracking and monitoring are legal in the United States, there are slight differences between federal and local laws regulating this workplace practice. This is because many states have their own local laws regarding employee monitoring and some even require consent from employees before a company can implement a productivity tracker.