2021 time tracking trends to watch in 2022

by Time Doctor
time tracking trends

The switch to remote work due to COVID-19 initiated many new time tracking trends in 2021. 

For instance, most companies could no longer use traditional punch cards or time clock systems to track employee work hours. Instead, they adopted cloud-based time and attendance tracking tools. 

These trends are likely to prevail in 2022 and beyond, shaping the future of the time-tracking software market. Employers should watch these trends to enhance their employee monitoring and workforce management efforts.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 ongoing time tracking trends and an efficient software solution to boost employee productivity.

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Many of the popular time tracking trends in 2021 were shaped by the remote work trend and the subsequent use of software technology.

Let’s check out some of these trends:

1. Increased use of time tracking software

The most prominent trend has to be the growing use of digital time tracking software.


Many companies have continued with the work from home policy or have adopted a hybrid approach due to the Covid pandemic. 

However, this switch left manual time cards and paper timesheets practically useless and prompted companies to invest in digital time tracking tools. 

Another reason was that companies must stay compliant with labor laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act. Even businesses that didn’t track employee time before the pandemic felt the need to do so with their staff working from home.

This growing demand is also reflected in the growth projections for the time tracking software market. 

The global online time tracking software market size was estimated at USD 121.56 million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 191.51 million by 2026. 

Besides measuring employee hours for compliance, businesses increasingly use timekeeping tools to gather some key insight into their operations and efficiency.

According to a Robert Half study, employers lose around 4.5 hours per employee each week to time theft. Similarly, Surepayroll estimates an employee wastes around five hours per week on average on non-work-related websites.

As a result, companies are actively using time tracking tools to monitor employee work patterns and spot related issues, including:

  • Employees’ unproductive behavior, such as social media browsing or extended meal breaks.
  • Time theft incidents like buddy-punching.
  • Payroll losses due to such incidents.
  • Project delays due to lack of productivity and the associated increase in labor costs.
  • Internal costs involved with paid time offs and their misuse.

Moreover, it’s harder to detect and prevent time theft incidents for remote workers than on on-premise staff, further necessitating time tracking tools.

A time tracking tool can help companies plug such cash drains by improving productivity and accountability among employees.

3. Mobile apps for time and location tracking

Many jobs require employees to work from different locations, making it difficult for employers to track them.

Sensing the need, software developers quickly rolled out mobile time and GPS tracking features through the mobile version of their tracking apps. 

Your on-field crew, which may include construction workers, sales reps, technicians, etc., can easily track their working hours using a mobile device as they travel from one job site to another. It’s much more convenient than carrying a bulky laptop to track time using the desktop or web app. 

A manager or supervisor can track employee productivity, and the payroll team can use their actual billable hours for specific tasks to make accurate payments. 

Similarly, GPS tracking helps ensure that an employee is actually at the designated job site. Together with mobile time tracking, it can help companies in the following ways:

  • Efficient assigning: Real-time location tracking can help you find and assign the worker nearest to the job site, reducing service time.
  • Fair reimbursement: Keep track of the miles an employee travels while on the clock and accurately reimburse their commute expenses.
  • Employee safety: Location tracking enables companies to guide their employees and ensure their safety during commutes.
  • Promote accountability: Knowing their location is being tracked, employees might refrain from unproductive or irresponsible behavior when out in the field.

While these features have been part of time tracking systems for some time now, they’ve become even more relevant with the rise in remote work.

In a 2019 Quickbooks survey of 1585 U.S. employees, 32% had used GPS tracking at their work. 78% of the respondents were comfortable with GPS tracking, and 65% reported a positive experience using it. 

It’s clear from these numbers that today, employees are more accepting of being monitored by their employers and acknowledge its benefits for their performance.

For example, employees need not worry about filling in timesheets manually when they return from their job site. This saves them from the hassle and reduces the chances of incorrect data and payments.

Additionally, most time tracking mobile apps offer handy features like reminders and notifications, which helps keep your entire remote team in the loop.

4. Geofencing

Geofencing is another GPS-based monitoring method that has become a standard feature in many time tracking software post the Covid pandemic. Some use cases include setting and tracking location for construction site and landscaping workers, healthcare and food delivery personals, etc.

Companies can set a virtual workplace boundary called a geofence using the technology. The tracking system will notify employers when an employee enters or leaves the geofence. 

Employees will also be reminded to log in and start tracking time once they enter their job site and log out on exit. It’s a beneficial feature for companies that require their team members to be working from a specific location or within a set geographic boundary. 

Geofencing also prevents employees from logging in or out from their homes or en route to their job sites, minimizing time theft and buddy punching instances and payroll losses.

Additionally, it helps employees develop accountability and ensures they get paid fairly and accurately for their hours worked. In an employee survey by Kelton Global, 53% of respondents said they’d be inclined to take up a job with GPS tracking if it ensures accurate payments.

 6. Automated timekeeping

Another latest trend in modern timekeeping software is AI-based automation, which massively reduces manual efforts and the risk of errors. 

Over 30% of professionals in a 2020 Deloitte study said that manual time entry and editing time data are two of the most time-consuming processes.

Recording attendance using manual time cards or filling in a paper timesheet isn’t efficient and increases the chances of human error. This could result in incorrect and delayed payments and may even lead to employee dissatisfaction in the long term.

Let’s check out a few ways automated time tracking solutions can help a business owner:

  • Eliminates unethical practices like buddy punching and time theft.
  • Reduces labor costs since you only pay for an employee’s actual hours and won’t need a separate team to handle timekeeping.
  • Minimizes administrative costs by speeding up the processing time.
  • Easily make edits to a timesheet, which is tedious with the manual process.
  • Cultivates healthy work habits among employees as it captures every late arrival and early departure.

7. Attendance and time-off tracking

Attendance and PTO tracking could help keep a company’s operating costs low. As per a 2020 CDC report, employee absenteeism results in a loss of USD 36.4 billion in the USA. 

So it makes a lot of sense for businesses to get a time tracking system with attendance and paid time off (PTO) tracking functionality.

As per a 2019 DMEC employer survey, 13% of large businesses (5000-19,999 employees) and 22% of small companies (less than 100 employees) use a time and attendance system for leave management. 

Leave and PTO management using a time tracking system means you won’t need two separate tools. Additionally, an integrated system like this will make payroll management much easier.

Attendance and PTO management features can help you track:

  • Leave requests and approvals.
  • Accrued and availed time offs, such as sick leaves, vacation time, etc.
  • Employee schedules and shifts.
  • The clock in and clock out the time of each worker, etc.

Such a system could significantly reduce the administrative efforts and costs associated with attendance and PTO management. And since all the attendance and time-off data is available on a centralized cloud-based system, companies don’t need to worry about errors and delays in processing.

Check out this article to learn more about time and attendance software.

8. Employee self-service portals

The 2018-19 Sierra-Cedar Survey reported that 78% of respondents (HR and operations leaders) used employee self-service (ESS) applications and the projections indicated further growth in the years to come.

The 2020 edition of the survey stated that 66% of participating organizations use an ESS portal for documents and resources.

Today, many companies recognize the benefits of employee engagement and prioritize it. An employee self-service portal could be an effective way to empower your team and keep them engaged.

Here’s how:

Without such a system, an employee needs to go through time-consuming processes for a routine or repetitive task, affecting their workflow. Moreover, an employee self-service portal could save valuable time for your managers and HR team.

By giving more autonomy to the employees, businesses can improve efficiency and reduce administrative costs.  

Here are a few things an employee can do with a self-service portal on the time tracking software:

  • Quickly edit attendance and timesheets and send them for manager approval.
  • Apply for leaves and time-offs from anywhere and at any time.
  • See detailed work hour and attendance reports to measure their productivity levels. 
  • Request changes to shift timings and get it auto-approved (based on conditions set by the manager).
  • Send overtime requests by checking schedule availability in real-time.
  • Get timely notifications and reminders for holidays, request approvals, shift changes, etc.

Moreover, an employee self-service portal keeps the company’s internal communication strong and transparent by allowing easy access to information and resources. 

9. Payroll integration

Preparing payroll for hourly employees is a time-consuming process, especially with manual timesheets. Imagine the paperwork involved in printing and verifying the timesheets and feeding time tracking data into your payroll processing system! 

Overall, it’s an inefficient process that could result in delayed and inaccurate payments. As a result, SaaS (Software as a Service ) solutions for payroll are fast emerging as a popular choice among businesses. 

A 2020 Payroll survey by Deloitte found that 74% of the respondents were already using cloud-based technology for their payroll.

And for a good reason!

According to ASAP Payroll Service, companies that use timekeeping software with payroll integration were 44% less likely to commit payroll errors.

A time tracking software with payroll integration is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to a manual system. 

An integrated payroll system can directly fetch the work hour data to process employee payments accurately. It reduces the time required for verifying and approving the time data and eliminates the need to upload the timesheets to a separate system. 

It significantly reduces the workload on managers and human resources teams, which can be utilized for other important tasks. Integrated payroll also minimizes the processing time for ad-hoc requests such as overtime, time-offs, and pay rate and currency changes.

Here are a few ways integrating time tracking with payroll can significantly boost your businesses’ growth:

  • Compliance: It enables managers to better monitor overtime hours and spot scheduling conflicts and payroll errors, improving compliance with labor laws.
  • Data accuracy: Payroll integration minimizes the chances of human errors, ensuring accurate and timely payments to employees.
  • Data security: Payroll data can be sensitive and prone to data breaches. An integrated system means fewer access points and much safer data.
  • Employee satisfaction: Timely and accurate payments is also an effective way to keep your team’s morale high. 

10. Advanced analytics and reporting

According to Mckinsey’s The State of AI in 2021 global survey, the use of AI-based tools went up 50% in 2020 to 56% in 2021.

So it’s no surprise that time tracking software also leverages artificial intelligence technology.

Advanced AI analytics and reporting can help companies see patterns and trends in employee time data and give you vital clues into your team’s productivity and efficiency. You’ll be able to spot red flags which you’d have missed otherwise.

Technologies like predictive and prescriptive analytics go a step further and warn you about issues that may arise in the future and ways to prevent them.

Clearly, the recent time tracking trends indicate that companies are looking for innovative tools to maximize their efficiency and productivity with remote and hybrid work models. 

So let’s check out one such effective time tracking tool that can help boost your business productivity and profitability.

Time Doctor: A robust solution for your time tracking needs

time doctor Time Tracking

Time Doctor is an excellent employee time tracking and performance management system trusted by major companies, like Verizon, and small businesses, like Thrive Market, to manage employee performance.

Using Time Doctor, you can track time and productivity for an on-premise or remote employee, as well as freelancers.

You can use this effective digital tool to:

Learn more about Time Doctor’s features here. 

Key takeaways

Employee time tracking has become even more important after companies began adopting a remote or hybrid work strategy. It has also seen some significant changes since.

The recent time tracking trends reflect these changes and indicate how business owners should go about it in the future.

Use the trends shared in this article to keep your employee monitoring and workforce management program up to date. And for that, you need a powerful tracking tool.

If you’re looking to minimize software clutter, Time Doctor is a perfect tool for time tracking, project management, and payroll processing, all through a single app.

So why not sign up for Time Doctor’s free trial to get started today?

View a free demo of Time Doctor

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