Background Best Free Productivity Tools
When picking a time tracking tool, it’s important to comprehend the various kinds of tools out there. Tools such as Mavenlink, Wrike, and Zoho Projects all feature powerful time monitoring features for professional services businesses. On the other hand, the time monitoring features in these tools are available only within larger project management (PM) suites. Because of this, you’re paying a lot more money for things such as file storage, in-app chat, progress reports, and change management. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you will discover pure play time tracking tools like Hubstaff (which starts at $5 a month per user) and TSheets, our Editors’ Choice tool for time tracking. Best Free Productivity Tools
Attributes and Utilization
Hubstaff’s user interface (UI) was created with an attractive left-rail blue navigation bar that leaves lots of room around the right-hand side of your screen for data entry and analysis. When you first log into the system, you’ll be taken to the main dashboard, which provides you an summary of how many hours your employees have worked this day and how many hours they have worked over the previous seven days. You will also see a list of every member, their latest tasks, and how busy they have been over the last week. This is a solid PM data visualization which lets you instantly differentiate between workhorses and do-nothings, and it immediately calls to focus projects that are becoming more than sufficient focus and jobs that are being neglected.
There are two ways to add time in Hubstaff: You can build manual timesheets with previous hours worked, or you may use the stopwatch feature on Hubstaff’s native desktop program. With the timesheet attribute, you log in your hours as you probably did with pen and paper during the analog era of time tracking. Basically, if you work your shift, you add the time to your timesheet, and you also sign off on it. This is a fairly standard procedure of monitoring time. Regrettably, because Hubstaff doesn’t let you add future time, you can not use the platform as a shift organizer. Administrators can let users manually edit formerly submitted timesheets, and they’re able to force users to need a motive to guarantee they’re actually adding hours they worked. Admins may also set up the system to remind users to start monitoring time should they have not clocked to the machine in a while.
The next, and most bothersome, way of tracking time in Hubstaff is by using the stopwatch feature. In each solution we analyzed, this component can be found within the boundaries of your internet browserevery solution that’s, except for Hubstaff. With Hubstaff, you’re required to download an native desktop application that resides within a separate window. In it, you can select your project, press Start, along with your timer will start counting. When you are done, your activity and your screenshots will be sent to the principal hub. The native app will take a picture at random intervals of up to 3 shots per hour based on how often the admin wants to spy on workers. Screenshots can be partially fuzzy to not capture sensitive information on every grab, but a lot of the screen is left unsullied you’ll still get a feeling of whether the screen is really on work-related or play-related content. This can be an annoyingly complex and complicated means to manually monitor time, particularly if you’re jumping from task to task throughout the day. Hubstaff must discover a way to bring the stopwatch and screengrab components to the cloud-based architecture to simplify ease of use.
Tracking time in real-time on Hubstaff’s Android and iOS programs is precisely the same as it is on the desktop app. The mobile programs let admins monitor motions via GPS monitoring. This gives you an summary of just how much motion was performed by your employee by capturing location information at different stages.
The Schedules tab enables you to assign dates and times for employees to work. You can put a minimum number of hours to work, a lunch break interval, and you can allow it to be a recurring change. The tool’s reporting software is terribly basic: You’ll get access to weekly, daily, project, and member view reports as well as a”habit” report which allows you filter data from the above reports. In comparison to the PM options within this class, Hubstaff’s coverage is downright embarrassing so, if your goal is to understand and evolve based on when and how your employees handle time, you’d be better off working with Zoho Projects, our Editors’ Choice for PM.
Admins receive notifications when they’ve reached weekly staffing and funding limitations. Invoices are automatically calculated and created depending on the time each employee worked, in addition to their associated pay rate. It is possible to set up automatic citizenship through PayPal, which enables you to automate payments based on time tracked within the application. Remember: Users don’t need to send time for approval, so automatic payments will be made whether workers were wrong or right concerning the number of hours that they worked. There is not any reminder for supervisors to double-check each timesheet ahead of automatic payments go out so, if you are worried about making bogus payments, then it is possible to set PayPal payments to guide. Best Free Productivity Tools
Cost And Alternatives
Hubstaff was constructed to give you Big Brother-level oversight into when employees are working, what they’re doing while they work, and what you really want to pay them when the job is done. The Basic $5-per-month plan provides you access to easy time monitoring tools, an employee payment schedule manager, 24/7 support, and user settings that can be managed in an employee-by-employee basis. Additionally, this plan enables you to keep tabs on whether your employees are working by letting you record screenshots while they function as well as monitor keyboard and mouse activity during changes. Of the five tools we’ve tested, Hubstaff is the only instrument which provided this level of insight into the way that employees are progressing. Although screen and keyboard tracking are helpful (albeit over-reaching) attributes for a shift screen, Hubstaff’s implementation leaves much to be wanted (more on this later).
The $9-per-user-per-month Premium program includes everything you’ll find in the fundamental program, but you’ll also have access to Hubstaff’s application programming interface (API) to integrate the tool with other third-party applications. The Premium bundle also has a lightweight schedulingtool that gives administrators the capability to assign shifts and delegate tasks from inside the console. Premium clients may also use the tool to create invoices and make PayPal payments mechanically. Customers that pay annually will receive two weeks free (for both cost tiers).
Compared to TSheets, its nearest competition in our roundup, Hubstaff is fairly priced, especially given the added tracking features that are unavailable in competitive tools. TSheets offers a fundamental free account, in addition to a $4-per-user-per-month accounts that charges a $16 base fee a month for groups with fewer than 100 users, and a $80 base fee per month for groups with more than a hundred users. The base fee, which Hubstaff doesn’t charge, makes TSheets marginally more costly than Hubstaff, even in Hubstaff’s Premium level.
If you are more interested in these hulky PM alternatives, then you will need to pony up a little more money. Mavenlink’s cheapest plan that includes time tracking costs $39 per user per month. Zoho’s cheapest time tracking plan is $25 per month for an unlimited number of consumers (which is a fairly good deal if you want all of the excess PM features). Wrike’s lowest time tracking plan prices $24.80 per user per month.
What Ought to Be Added
Editor’s note: Since our original review of Hubstaff, the company has released a major upgrade in late 2018 that specifically addressed specific feature flaws or omissions, including adding a internet timer, fleshing out reporting choices, and adding action levels and screen tracking. We are going to be analyzing these attributes shortly and you’ll see the results in an upcoming update to this review.
Besides its draconian screengrab and keystroke tracking, Hubstaff does not do a very good job allowing for deeper change oversight. For instance, Hubstaff does not allow advanced monitoring. If you operate a trucking business and you are less concerned about how many hours each trucker drove than the distance driven, then there is no way to handle this in Hubstaff. Users can add notes to a empty text field, but that information will not be mixed into accounts. This means that you can’t use it to find out about who is functioning, how they are functioning, and what they’re generating (other than the number of hours monitored ). TSheets not only provides you this choice, it provides you the ability to make six extra customizable advanced tracking fields. You might even add a query for every clock-out (i.e.,”Was there an incident? Yes. No.”) Along with the system forces the user to respond to the queries at the close of every shift or they won’t be able to clock out.
As hardcore as Hubstaff is all about tracking work, the tool does not permit for IP address restrictions, which means your employees can say they are working from the office but they can actually be operating from a cruise ship in the Bahamas (unless they are using the cell app to monitor time). This is a standard feature that’s available in virtually every other tool we tested. Hubstaff also does not enable admins to require users to snap a photo when they report to work. I suppose it is overkill to make someone take a selfie right before you start recording their display and monitoring their keystrokes, but TSheets lets you place this as a requirement (which makes sense, particularly if you’re tracking tasks done out of a computer, like electronic, building, or amusement work). The software also doesn’t allow users clock via a telephone call, which can be an element TSheets along with other service providers make available for employees who don’t have a smartphone.
Tracking Employee Work
We have touched on how some of Hubstaff’s more Big Brother-like features factor into time tracking. However, the platform also offers a lot of the hallmarks of worker tracking tools. Hubstaff’s employee monitoring attributes include keystroke logging, URL and application tracking, GPS and place tracking, and action screenshots.
As soon as you set your users and they download the timer app onto their server, the desktop program not only monitors time but will require screenshots randomly or in custom intervals, such as three screenshots per minute. This applies not just to the user’s most important screen but any attached monitors as well. Hubstaff doesn’t log keys however, it will track the activity provided through the mouse and computer keyboard, giving companies a calculation of just how active the employee is. This data all winds up around the Hubstaff dashboard from the Task tab. This is where you can then select a user from the drop-down menu to see their screenshots correlated with activity data.
If it comes to program and URL tracking, Hubstaff goes beyond just tracking time to see what websites and apps a worker opened or visited and how long they had been there. The Reports section may subsequently run custom queries on vectors such as app usage mapped against time and action. Hubstaff incorporates with job and task management tools like Asana and Trello to filter reports by specific projects or tasks to track productivity.
1 unique employee monitoring feature supplied is GPS location monitoring through Hubstaff’s mobile program. While the cellular app can’t take screenshots or catch mobile app and site activity, it lets you track and log place for employees working in the field. While the depth of monitoring data and surveillance features can’t measure up to a grid application for example Teramind, our Editors’ Choice for employee monitoring, Hubstaff has a useful selection of attributes for employers that want a little more oversight. Best Free Productivity Tools
Hubstaff is an easy-to-administer, feature-rich, time tracking tool. If you are diligent about tracking employee behaviour while on the clockthen there’s no better software available than Hubstaff. You’ll have the ability to log screenshots, monitor keystroke volume, and path movements via GPS monitoring.
Regrettably, if you’re trying to find a platform that goes the excess mile to allow customization, atypical information entry, or even a more advanced reporting arrangement, then Hubstaff won’t be perfect for you. In addition, in case you choose another program, your employees will thank you for not requiring them to download a secondary app for tracking time–especially when you consider that every other tool we reviewed makes this possible within the boundaries of their online UI. Best Free Productivity Tools