Time tracking apps designed for virtual workers help business owners effectively manage offsite staff.

Companies that depend on virtual employees could not exist without smart tech. Employers who aren’t using smart tech for staff timekeeping are missing key advantages.

If you are an employer with a virtual team, it takes some planning and effort to stay productive. Here are the challenges that most remote companies face:

Virtual Staff Management Challenges

  1. Paying employees accurately
  2. Helping employees stay focused
  3. Effective collaboration
  4. Maintaining accountability
  5. Employer oversight
  6. Optimum shift coverage
  7. Efficient and affordable admin
  8. Human resource allocation

The right time tracking software can help virtual employers overcome these challenges. With an efficient system, you are better able to optimize your workforce.

Optimizing your staff puts you in a position to take on more work. Let’s look at the benefits:

The Advantages of Time Tracking Apps for Virtual Teams

1. Paying Employees Accurately

This is the bedrock of the employer-employee relationship. Knowing when each team member clocks in and clocks out is critical. This is true whether they are in the cubicle next door or on a sailboat headed for Cabo.

Since your entire business can’t operate without paying your employees, you want to track time correctly.

This keeps you from overpaying them and going over your labor budget. It also protects you from failing to pay an employee when he/she is owed compensation.

If you have several clients and bill employee time per job, you need a system with that capability. If your contractors do the same, it makes things easy on their end as well.

If you have contractors who work by the hour and send you an invoice, you need to verify their billable hours.

Business owners have many reasons to allow all or part of their staff to work remotely. Lower overhead is one of the oft-cited advantages of employing telecommuters. But if you are paying them for time they didn’t work, you are negating the savings in overhead.

Time tracking apps make it easy to track employee time for geographically-diverse teams. These apps are cloud-based, which means employees access them with any internet-enabled device—generally Android and iPhone.

An electrician working on a job site can clock in with the tablet he is using to access the wiring diagrams.

A sales rep who makes residential sales calls can clock in at the beginning of her shift with a mobile phone. She uses the phone to make appointments, so it’s quick and convenient.

For more information on the advantages of cloud-based time tracking, see SwipeClock cloud-based workforce management.

2. Helping Employees Stay Focused

One of the challenges for virtual staff members is staying focused on their work. There are plenty of distractions in a home office, coffee shop, or wherever the employee chooses to park their laptop that day.

A traditional office worker has the morning commute to transition to work mode. The physical journey helps them get down to business when they arrive at work.

A telecommuter needs to make the transition also—mentally if not physically. This is difficult when the commute only requires navigating a basket of laundry in the hall.

For the at-home worker, clocking in says “I am at work now.” The employee knows that while on the clock, they need to be performing work duties.

3. Accountability for Everyone

Using a good automated time tracking app is essential for keeping employees accountable. You don’t want a haphazard time tracking system where the employee fills out a time card at the end of the pay period. It doesn’t keep the employee or the employer accountable. (And it fails the accuracy test from the get-go.)

You trust your remote employees or you would not have hired them. But even if you believe them to be completely trustworthy, you want to make it easy for them to track their hours.

Any cumbersome system—for time tracking or otherwise—makes life harder for everyone. It hampers the employees, managers, human resources staff, and ultimately the business owner.

You want to be accountable to them, as well. An easy-to-use time tracking app assures that both you and your workers agree on the time worked each pay period.

You are also accountable to the Department of Labor for every employee and every shift. A good time tracking app that everyone uses is your number one tool for labor law compliance.

4. Uncomplicated Collaboration

When a virtual worker clocks in, it lets all team members know that he or she is available. If workers are spread around the globe, sometimes there are only a few hours of overlap. The two hours when the Filipino techs can talk to the London-based design team are critical.

Time tracking apps with centralized employee portals keep everyone on the same page. All players know who is available without sending a text or email.

And you don’t have to wonder if their Skype active status is accurate or if they just forgot to change it.

5. Managerial Oversight

Companies can’t be productive if managers don’t know what’s going on with their teams. This is especially important if there are not standard shifts.

Time tracking apps with well-designed manager portals make it easy.  Supervisors can see at a glance who is on duty and where they are located.

Businesses with mobile employees or contractors need a mobile time tracking app with built-in GPS.

For example, a temp agency owner who manages substitute teachers for a rural school district. When a school calls for a sub, she can immediately see who is already working and where.

Often, a school requests a substitute twenty minutes before the class starts. This is where the GPS feature of her mobile time tracking app is key.

The owner can see where her available teachers are currently located. She can quickly choose the worker closest to the school and send a text alert right from the app.

Since the district covers a large area, this helps her get her temps to the right school when they are needed. The district would never look for another agency because she never fails to timely deliver a sub.

6. Optimum Shift Coverage

This is especially important for the customer service or tech support team. When there is shift confusion there is a risk of understaffing.

Nothing hurts your business like long wait times for customer service.

Coverage gaps are also hard on the employees.

Service reps know that customer frustration intensifies with each minute they wait in the phone or live chat queue.

7. Affordable and Efficient Administration

Paying for excessive administrative time (either in-house or outsourced) is a way to lose some of the cost savings of having a virtual staff.

A good time tracking app allows your human resource manager to handle HR tasks for a large workforce.

Dumping time and attendance data directly into the payroll system is especially cost-effective. When the app does the heavy lifting, it handles the work of several employees.

Speaking of handy apps, check out the SwipeClock ROI calculator. Enter your company specifics to find out exactly how much money you can save with SwipeClock time tracking software for remote workers.

8. Insightful Human Resource Allocation

Good time tracking apps capture data for your human capital optimization strategy. Don’t have a human capital optimization strategy?

Maybe that’s because your time and attendance system is sub-par. Good time tracking software helps you make strategic decisions about schedules, team assignments, and project workflow.

Great time tracking software has reports that represent workforce data graphically for easy comprehension. It also has simulation capabilities that remove the trial-and-error of workforce management.

SwipeClock Workforce Management helps companies skillfully manage their virtual teams. For information on our iPhone and Android time tracking apps, see Swipeclock Workforce Management.