Telecommuting is great for many businesses — employees love it and it can help save money. But how can you manage remote employee time tracking? How do you know if your employees are truly working? There are a number of technology solutions available to help, but above all else, you must ensure you can trust your employees to be effective — whether they are working in the office or not.

Automated Tracking Tools

If your employees' work is computer-based, you can install software that tells you not only when the employee logs in, but when they are working and when they have stepped away from the computer.

Depending on your company's needs, you might not only want time and attendance software, you might want to track billable hours or do analysis on how long people are spending on each task. Automated tracking can give you a general idea of their work time, and it's non-intrusive — you only need to follow up when the hours seem questionable or you find something of concern.

SAAS/Cloud-Based Mobile Tracking

Mobile tracking can be even more nimble than traditional software solutions. Often, mobile solutions combine apps and web-based portals so employees can log time seamlessly whether they're on the go or in the office. The big benefit is that employees don't have to rely on a certain device to track their time. This can be especially helpful if your business has a bring your own device policy.

Much like other digital remote employee time tracking solutions, mobile options allow for real-time input of relevant information and big data reports that give you a bird's eye view of your business.

Employee-Based Tracking

For individuals on your workforce who don't spend much time on the computer, for example, employees who make sales calls or provide services at clients' homes, it won't be helpful to use an automated tracking system. In this case, have employees keep time cards that detail hours worked and location. There are programs, such as Geofency and VisitBasis that use a combination of GPS data, customer signatures and time and location stamps. Employers who elect to use this as a form of time tracking should be mindful of employee privacy rules.

Paying Correctly

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal wage and hour law. Employees are classified as exempt or nonexempt from the Act. Exempt employees are not eligible for overtime pay, but you cannot deduct from their pay either. They will generally receive the same salary each workweek, regardless of the number of hours worked.

Employees must meet certain criteria to be exempt, such as engagement in outside sales, managing others or working independently in a professional capacity. They must also satisfy the salary basis test and any applicable state overtime rules.

Many companies do not track hours for their exempt employees. Determine what works best for your company by examining things like industry, type of work and service provided.

Under the FLSA, nonexempt employees must be paid for all hours worked. Additionally, they must be paid overtime at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 per workweek. It's critical that these employees track their time accurately and provide that information to payroll personnel. All work must be accounted for, including quick phone calls after normal work hours to talk about tomorrow's plan.

You may see success when your employees are able to work from home. Many employees love the flexibility and convenience of telecommuting, and today's technology makes it a great option. Consider conferring with an experienced HR professional or local employment counsel when deciding which time tracking solution is right for your business.

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