Global HR 10 min

Your guide to remote employee time tracking

Written by Barbara Matthews
July 2, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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85% of leaders question the productivity of their hybrid teams. To help gauge productivity and performance, many are turning to surveillance software, which leads to its own set of problems. For example, 64% of US employees who work remotely feel like they’re being micromanaged.

That’s where remote employee time tracking comes in. Time tracking gives managers and employers insights into productivity without veering into micromanagement. 

In this article, we explore the most effective methods for tracking hours remotely, as well as the best time-tracking software to use.

How do you track employee hours remotely?

If your team members are spread across multiple time zones, the right software can help you track employee hours accurately.

Virtual time-tracking is an effective solution that aids productivity and accountability. But it needs to be done right. 

Here are four ways to track hours for your remote employees:

Time-tracking software

Time-tracking software records the amount of time employees spend on particular tasks during work hours. It can usually integrate with existing project management tools. 

This type of software lets employees ‌record task durations, while managers can set estimated work times needed to complete each task. 

Integrated HR platforms

Integrated HR platforms offer a centralized platform on which employees can log their work hours, breaks, and tasks. 

For example, employees can easily track their work hours and create timesheets through Remote HR Management. This type of system works well for teams with employees who work at different times from different locations.

Virtual time clocks

A virtual time clock operates in the same way as a traditional time management system — employees can virtually “clock in” and “clock out” on each workday. With a virtual system, employees can log their work hours from any location through multiple devices. 

For example, Time Clock Wizard helps you monitor employee absences, late clock-ins, and work breaks.


Employees can self-report their own work hours through whatever means they see fit. For instance, they could use a stopwatch or time-tracking software, or they could even just look at the clock. Then, they “hand in” online timesheets. 

However, self-reporting can also have a higher discrepancy rate between reported time and actual time worked.

How to choose the right time-tracking option for your remote team: A checklist

The time-tracking solution you choose will depend on both your team’s needs and your company culture

For instance, virtual time clocks may be too rigid for creative industries that need a lot of flexibility. For a company with a large number of shift workers across the globe, an HR platform with a time-tracking tool would be a better option. 

Here are a few tips for choosing the best remote employee time-tracking option for your team:

Consider your needs 

First, evaluate your needs by breaking down your daily operations. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What features do you need from a time-tracking tool?

  • Do you need to track billable hours?

  • Do you require detailed reports on utilization and productivity rates?

For example, a remote team might need simple scheduling features so people can work throughout different shifts. A team like this may not need project time tracking features at all.

Look for user-friendly options

Once you’ve identified your team’s requirements, determine which option will make time-tracking as quick and straightforward as possible. 

You can go through product demos to shop for the right tool for your company. While testing out different software, ask yourself:

  • Is the tool easy to use and understand?

  • Will the tool require extensive training for your team to use?

  • Does the tool have a user-friendly interface?

You want to choose a time-tracking option that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse your remote employees with too many options. Keep it as simple as possible.

Check for integrations 

Using a time-tracking software that integrates with your existing system can save you time and money. When considering your options, ask yourself: 

  • Does the tool integrate with your existing tech stack? 

  • Will you need to manually enter data into other systems?

Consider costs

Consider how much you’re willing to invest in time-tracking software for remote employees. For companies with remote employees around the globe, you want to make sure your software can scale with your distributed team.

Ask yourself: 

  • What is your budget for a time-tracking tool?

  • What pricing plans are available for the tool you’re considering?

Generally, choosing a solution with a flexible and transparent pricing plan is a good idea.

person checking remote employee time-tracking tools

Top 3 remote employee time-tracking tools 

To simplify your search for the best remote employee time-tracking tool, here are our top three recommendations.

We factored in real user experiences on software review sites like Capterra and G2 to find the best remote employee time-tracking tools.

1. Remote - Best for remote teams 

Remote HR Management is a solid HR platform that helps your entire distributed team with time and attendance tracking.

The platform helps employees automate their work hours and helps contractors keep track of their own time. With this information, remote employees can create worksheets to keep track of their work hours.

With Remote HR Management:

  • You can stay compliant across countries: Remote automatically calculates paid time off and compares it against regulations in the employee’s country. The platform captures the legal minimum work hours and the hours specified in the employee’s contract.

  • Employees can add “context notes” to their work hours: These notes can include how many additional hours they spent working on a particular project. Context notes show why an employee's work hours might be different compared to other timeframes.

  • Contractors and employees have the flexibility to log their hours from any device: Remote offers a mobile app for employees and employers that supports time-tracking. It is especially helpful for a remote workforce who might be in the field during the day and not have access to a laptop.

Companies with a distributed team can benefit from Remote's comprehensive time-tracking features. For example, Mimo partners with Remote to manage a team of over 35 remote contractors all from one centralized location.

2. Timely - Best for automatic time tracking 

Timely is an AI-powered time tracker that focuses on precise time capturing. It helps you accurately bill clients for work while accounting for both billable and non-billable time spent on a project. 

Key features of Timely are:

  • Automatically records the amount of time each employee spends on a task and adds this information to the total logged time for each client 

  • Creates secure timesheets that employees can check and approve before sending to managers 

  • Protects the privacy of employees by only allowing managers to see how many hours teams have worked throughout the day 

3. Buddy Punch - Best for on-site employees 

Buddy Punch is a time clock software that simplifies time-tracking for both employees and HR managers. It helps employees “punch in” and “punch out” at the start and end of each workday. 

Key features of Buddy Punch are:

  • Helps HR managers monitor and approve time-off requests

  • Consolidates all timesheet approvals in one place and allows managers to simply reject or approve each submission 

  • Efficient time tracking by adding job codes and categorizing entries for each department in the organization 

Buddy Punch is ideal for businesses with “in-field” employees who are constantly on the move during work and need a quick and easy way to notify managers of their billable hours. For example, the company helped truck drivers track their time from different locations across Arizona.

Why should you monitor your remote employees’ hours? 

You should monitor your remote employees’ hours for the following reasons.

To optimize operational planning 

Time tracking provides valuable insights into task prioritization, company resource use, and how teams manage their project timelines and deadlines. 

Specifically, it can help with: 

  • Identifying opportunities by optimizing human resource allocation and reducing workflow bottlenecks 

  • Providing more accurate time estimates for effective project scheduling and transparent communication with clients and stakeholders 

  • Spotting trends in task completion and efficiency and calculating if certain employees are excelling or struggling with their workloads

For instance, imagine you notice that employees are taking two hours longer than anticipated on a project. With this information, you might find that the project requires more time to finish, and allocate more time for the same types of projects in future planning.  

Time tracking helps you make sure that you’re billing your customers and clients accurately. It also helps you stay compliant with local laws and that each employee’s pay is reflective of the work they did during the pay cycle. 

Time tracking also helps with:  

  • Ensuring employees and contracts are accurately billed for the time they spend on a project and any overtime or holiday pay rates that may apply 

  • Identifying which hours are billable and non-billable by your company or the client you’re charging for your work 

  • Using predictive billing and forecasting to help estimate future costs and profits for your business 

To boost productivity and accountability 

By analyzing time usage, you can pinpoint productivity trends and identify areas where your team may require additional support. 

Remote time tracking can help with:

  • Identifying and eliminating time-wasting activities so that you can assist employees in focusing on their most important tasks

  • Providing real-time visibility into employee utilization rates and allowing you to identify potential issues in your product line early on 

For instance, tracking the time employees spend on specific tasks may reveal that it takes longer to complete certain processes when using a particular software. This insight could indicate the need for additional training or further investment in a software update. 

The possible downsides of time tracking that managers need to know (+ the solution) 

For HR managers like yourself, it’s difficult to know how your team members are using their time — and identify areas for improvement as a result. This makes time tracking appealing, but there’s a risk of going too far.

Extreme remote employee time-tracking may cause distrust and micromanagement. Like 43% of employees, your team members might even feel pressured to act busy.

Remote HR Management offers a more balanced approach. It helps with remote employee time-tracking, but it doesn’t resort to intrusive surveillance measures.

Keep track of employee hours the right way 

Without software that can track hours accurately, keeping on top of deadlines, communicating with your employees, and tracking time can quickly become complicated. 

That’s why using an HR platform with time-tracking features like Remote HR Management is a smart move. With Remote, you can easily manage your team’s time and track progress while maintaining transparency and accountability. 

Chat with us today and take your remote team’s productivity to the next level. 

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