Employee-friendly Automatic Time Tracking Software
After hours of testing, we found DeskTime to be a capable automated time tracker with a useful collection of monitoring and productivity reporting features.
DeskTime’s main features offer an easy-to-use combination of time tracking, project tracking, and productivity-focused application monitoring.
However, notably, it lacks any alerts, keystroke logging, email or IM tracking – and detailed reports. Furthermore, Desktime does not offer any Data Loss Prevention, Password Management, or Mobile Device Management features – which we believe are essential parts of any employee monitoring software. Due to DeskTime’s limitations, these sections will not be discussed in this review.
Compared to other solutions reviewed on our website, DeskTime’s functionality and reporting are minimal, however, it is a solid tool for what it does with plenty of customizability. Available on Android and IOS mobile platforms, the software’s combination of features makes it a viable option for start-ups, smaller businesses, and for personal use.
For employers and business owners who do not require any data loss prevention and may associate employee monitoring software with intrusive or even Orwellian sensibility; DeskTime could be the ideal choice.
What should you be looking for?
At Employee Monitoring Software Reviews, we believe there are a few crucial components that make a comprehensive employee monitoring solution. Let’s take a look at how DeskTime stacks up against other software reviewed on our site.
DeskTime offers extensive attendance tracking features and schedule customizability you would hope to find in a good time-tracking solution, with in-depth time-management scheduling which can be fully integrated with email, contacts, and other features.
Additionally, DeskTime’s main attendance tracking features are Log-in and Log-off times and Time at Work, or the total time from when you arrived to when you left work. It also allows you to set holiday accounting and customized schedules for sick leaves, vacations, and over time with ease.
For example, in the Absence Calendar, you can track absence periods through a vast array of categorizations such as conference, parental leave, business trips, vacation, sick days, and more. This helps supervisors plan workloads as well as eliminate any questions about absent employees. Desktime also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar to sync events in Desktime and vice versa.
In addition, managers can conveniently keep track of employee overtime via the Extra Hours Before Work and Extra Hours After Work data found in the Reports section.
Offline Time is an attendance feature unique to Desktime that allows employees to fill in gaps when they have been away with information. For example, when you are in a meeting you can set that missing data or ‘offline time’ as productive, unproductive, or neutral. This feature has its obvious bias and limitations as you will be hard-pressed to find an employee reporting on themselves if they were spending their time unproductively. It may be useful for independent workers or contractors wanting to keep track of his or her own work hours, but for a large company that wants to monitor its employees properly, it can prove to be a hindrance.
DeskTime has enough attendance tracking features to rival leading employee monitoring solution and Editor’s Choice KnowIT. However, it lacks the same depth of metrics and reporting; for example, it does not provide Most Late Arrivals, Most Early Departures, and most Lost Work Time reports.
In our opinion, DeskTime’s combination of attendance tracking features makes it an ideal choice for businesses which are project-oriented or outsource regularly, as well as for remote workers or freelancers paid by the hour.
Overall, DeskTime’s Attendance Tracking features are superior to most employee monitoring solutions we’ve tested.
DeskTime offers time and project-based productivity tracking, but it lacks finer metrics and detailed reports.
It is also useful to understand how they calculate productivity. To put it simply, DeskTime measures productivity by tracking employee’s time spent on apps, websites, tasks, and projects.
In the My Desktime dashboard, the Productivity Bar shows a smart data visualization of all employee activity in 5-minute intervals throughout the workday. To begin tracking productivity, users must assign apps and websites as productive, unproductive, or neutral.
Desktime’s Productivity Score is expressed as a simple percentage in an easy-to-digest format. It is obtained by taking the total time spent on productive applications divided by Total Desktime, or the total time an employee spends on a computer. Simply, the higher the productivity score the more productive an employee is. An extra feature unique to DeskTime is its Effectiveness Rating, which takes productive time divided by workday length and expresses it as a percentage.
For Employee Monitoring Software Reviews, productivity refers to how effectively resources are used to generate results or output. In the case of DeskTime, the software is designed to only gauge one type of resource – time. This is good to an extent, but without combining it with other metrics such as keystroke logging or keyword alerts, it does not provide a realistic measurement of productivity.
Simplifying productivity into time spent in productive/unproductive apps without cross-referencing it with any other metric is unrealistic because there is no way to track actual activity or employee output. For example, an employee working for a recruitment agency may spend 6 hours on Linkedin and only contact or message a few connections. What would be more valuable to their manager is the ability to see how many contacts were made and the results of each.
Usefully, managers can also request Daily Custom Reports that enable them to analyze whether time is being spent productively by each employee or assigned productivity group to make decisions that optimize their workplace.
One of DeskTime’s most heralded features is its Project Tracking which allows managers to assign tasks to team members, track time spent on certain tasks, and calculate project costs. A minor limitation of this feature is that there is no option to clear completed or old tasks for a project, this results in information clogging and confusion with regards to project progress. However, Project-based integrations with management software such as Zapier, Jira, and Basecamp 3 help add to DeskTime’s viability as a project-based productivity tracking tool.
Furthermore, DeskTime’s Cost Calculation and Project Billing lets you know approximately how much each project may cost the company. Simply set an employee’s hourly rates and DeskTime will automatically calculate project costs based on the time spent working on it.
Ideal for companies that outsource or independent workers, DeskTime allows you to easily customize, download, and send CSV reports giving clients or employers precise information about the amount of work and time spent on different projects.
As discussed in the Attendance Tracking section, DeskTime’s Offline Time feature engages employees to have input into their own evaluation. Private Time is a similar privacy feature that gives employees the option to turn off all tracking if, for instance, they are accessing any sensitive personal or financial data. It also lets your employees feel safe when they need to quickly do something unrelated to work during office hours.
Adding to DeskTime’s reputation as employee-friendly is the Pomodoro Timer — a feature which sets breaktime reminders to avoid burnouts. Simply activate this built-in feature and your employee will receive push notifications reminding them to pause from work every 30, 60, 90 minutes as desired.
Depending on what you are looking for in an employee monitoring solution, these options may appeal to you.
Ultimately, Desktime’s monitoring functionality is only as useful to the degree to which you customize the data vectors (productive and unproductive apps, categories, and screenshots). To increase the value of its monitoring features and encourage higher productivity, DeskTime should consider adding other data metrics and functionalities such as Teramind’s keystroke-based productivity tracking or KnowIT’s comprehensive productivity reports.
We found that DeskTime offers limited application management features. Specifically, it allows you to see what applications or websites are used or in-use, but without being able to take administrative action or receive any alerts or reports.
DeskTime does provide an overview of Application Usage by Device. For example, in the Employees Tab managers can see in real-time what applications their employees are using or what documents they are working on. This includes being able to view websites and applications in use to verify the activities specified for their Offline Time.
Furthermore, a basic Application Audit Trail allows users to historically view which apps were in use and for how long. But, unlike Editor’s Choice Know IT, it does not provide essential details such as a list of all apps installed on each or all devices, app installation and update history, nor does it provide an audit trail of all employee activity.
Perhaps most importantly, DeskTime does not give users the ability to block or create alerts for prohibited websites and applications. In our opinion, managing applications with prohibition features are an essential part of effective employee monitoring.
Compared to other employee monitoring solutions we reviewed, DeskTime offers a limited set of communication tracking features.
Firstly, DeskTime’s Screenshots is an optional feature that needs to be activated to start recording. You can set screen capture intervals for every 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes. In addition, you are given the option to blur screenshots for additional privacy. Unlike enterprise monitoring solutions where screenshots may be used as a DLP feature, DeskTime indicates that the purpose of their screen capture feature is to track work and is mostly used to manage remote teams where employees are paid by the hour.
DeskTime also offers Browser and URL Tracking for most popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Furthermore, Document Title Tracking lets you know which tasks employees are working on when they use specific programs like Excel or Word. It conveniently records titles of documents and files as well as time spent on them.
Unfortunately, DeskTime does not track instant messaging or record keystrokes, which we believe are two of the most important features to look for when considering an employee monitoring solution.
DeskTime offers a free plan and a paid subscription option that starts at $7/month per user to $228/month for up to 50 users. The main difference between the plans includes the number of users and access to premium features such as screenshots, reports, billing rates, and more.
Without any data loss prevention, IM & email tracking, keystroke logging, or any significant reports or alerts, DeskTime’s limited features are more suitable for start-ups or remote workers. As a pure time-tracking tool with screenshot capabilities, the pricing can be a bit much for anyone simply using the software for personal tracking.
For a similar price, businesses can get the same features offered by DeskTime with data loss prevention and a whole host of other features from employee monitoring solutions that offer modulated services and pricing such as KnowIT or Interguard.
Based on our own experience, we believe DeskTime is best described as purely a time-tracker solution, with limited employee monitoring capabilities.
Therefore, we would recommend this solution for small-sized businesses that do not require any data loss prevention features. This includes businesses who contract individuals paid by the hour, project-based services, freelancers, remote workers, and the like.
Aside from Attendance Tracking, DeskTime lacks granularity in all categories of features when compared to other employee monitoring software. As a result, considering value for money, substitute options in the employee monitoring market, and complete lack of any data loss prevention; we would recommend DeskTime’s LITE version free-trial, as the paid version does not offer much more at 7 dollars per user a month. Current features barely scratch the surface of genuinely providing actionable employee behavioral insights that this type of solution should strive for.
That being said, what DeskTime does well is that it involves employees in the monitoring process— as demonstrated by its Time Off, Private Time, and Pomodoro Time functions. This begs the question, are you looking for an employee monitoring solution to boost productivity, or simply to keep track of things as they are? If the answer is the latter, then DeskTime can be considered a capable choice.
Barring data loss prevention – DeskTime is a nice program for what it does, but it needs more granularity in what it tracks and reports for businesses to gain true insights into productivity.