Tracking actual hours worked by your employees – whether they be in-house workers or a remote team, can turn into a real headache.
An efficient time tracking tool can make the entire process relatively smoother, faster and effective.
So, which one do you choose?
There are tons of options out there. But in this post, we will compare two of the most popular time tracking tools in the market: Hubstaff vs. Time Doctor.
The tools have been compared on these specific parameters:
- Time Tracking
- Employee Monitoring
- Distraction Management
- Employee Privacy
- Reports and Timesheets
- Software Setup
Ready to see which one’s for you?
1. Time Tracking
So how do these tools work? Do they send miniature drones to your desk that hower in the background as you code and report back to top management?
Well, not yet.
Both the tools use different ways of tracking time spent on tasks.
Let’s start with Hubstaff.
Hubstaff has to be first installed on a user’s home computer or laptop on which he or she is working.
After logging in, you are presented with two options of either “Me” or “Team”. Both the screens are similar, and the most useful information is on the top right corner of the screen, where you are shown the total hours that you have worked for that particular day.
The screen also shows the total hours that you have worked for the week, with an activity percentage that needs a bit of explaining, so we will come to that in a bit.
The “team” dashboard also shows the same information, but this time for your entire team. You can see who is online, what their activity levels are (we will get there, promise) and also a neat bar graph showing how many hours they worked that week.
There is also an option of seeing timesheets which shows how much time your employee has spent on a particular project, along with their activity levels.
You can also select projects, where instead of individual members, the time spent on each project is displayed. This helps you see which tasks are taking more time and can be improved.
Now coming to the real deal – the activity levels and how they track your productivity.
Hubstaff detects if there is movement in your keyboard/ mouse, and tags these minutes as active and the rest of it as inactive. It then generates reports for set time intervals.
Easy enough to understand?
Need an example? Here’s how a 100 seconds at my workplace typically looks like:
- 30 seconds researching on the post that I am writing.
- 20 seconds browsing images to use in the post.
- 30 seconds actually writing the post.
- 20 seconds of brushing my awesome hair out of my eye and staring into space (no mouse or keyboard used).
So my activity level is 80 % since I am using 80 seconds of the 100 seconds using the keyboard or mouse.
You get time reports for all your activities and the percentage of time that you actually spend on various tasks.
Quite handy, isn’t it?
Of course, activity levels cannot accurately tell if one employee was working harder than another.
For example, if you have a developer on your team who spends more time coding, then he will have a higher keyboard usage and thus a higher activity level than, say, a content writer who spends more time reading and researching.
Does this mean the writer was working less? Definitely not. Hubstaff clarifies that the activity levels should only be used as “trends” to see if you can make minor corrections as and when needed.
The Time Doctor Approach
How does Time Doctor do it?
Time Doctor uses a whole different way of approaching this problem and gives the users a lot more freedom of how they choose to track the time they are working.
You do have to download the software onto your desktop, similar to Hubstaff.
Once you click on the desktop icon and log in to the tool, Time Doctor allows you to create tasks that you are working on and then start/ stop a timer to log in how many minutes or hours you have spent on a particular task.
The managers have an option of creating tasks that can be assigned to employees, so all they have to do is click the little play button.
The interface is really user-friendly, and you can figure it out in a few minutes.
But as Uncle Ben would say, with great power comes great responsibility!
So the onus is on the user to set tasks for the day, and then a handy little bar appears on your screen, showing time being tracked.
You can now start your work and the app tracks what websites you visit and what apps you were using in this period.
The manager can then extract detailed reports like the one above to see what task the employee was working and for which team.
Time Doctor also blows the activity levels feature of Hubstaff out of the water.
With Time Doctor, a manager can specify how long his employee is allowed to go without a keystroke or mouse movement. If the limit exceeds then bam! A popup appears asking what the employee is up to.
Prolonged idle time and the employee is automatically put on a “break”, and you don’t have to pay them for that time. So one can’t trick the system telling you were working while you were actually doodling cat pictures.
Idle time feature is available on Hubstaff too, but configuring it is a tad more complicated.
Time Doctor also sends detailed reports of websites that an employee visits during the time he/ she is logging in, which makes the employees more accountable and review their own productive time. More about this in the next section.
Hubstaff has an activity level tracker which is neat and does the basic task of measuring keyboard and mouse activity level, whereas Time Doctor lets you create tasks and then track actual time you spent on these tasks. Time Doctor also has features to ensure that employees don’t falsify records.
2. Employee Monitoring
Nobody likes their managers standing behind them staring at their screens as they type, but both these tools allow you to monitor your employee activities in a non- intrusive manner.
Let’s start with Hubstaff.
Hubstaff takes randomized screenshots of your employees monitors every 10 minutes, so you have an idea of what they were up to throughout the day.
You can see the various websites that your employees have visited during their working hour, and, since the screenshots are at random intervals, it’s tough to “game the system”.
The screenshot feature is available in Time Doctor as well, and the default value is one screenshot every 3 minutes. This can be changed by the manager to a time frame that is convenient.
Time Doctor has this as an optional feature. You can enable or disable it for each employee. Managers can use this to monitor remote employees effectively. It can also come in handy in specific types of companies, such as design shops, which can use them to review work processes and improve productivity.
Side note: Screenshots are only taken when team members indicate that they are working and not during breaks. Moreover, screenshots can be deleted by team members, which helps to maintain their privacy. However, if any screenshots are deleted, the associated work time is also deducted from their work hours.
Now you have an idea of what your employees’ screen looks like at different intervals they were claiming to be working. How do you know which sites or apps they were using during those hours?
This is where Web and App tracking comes in.
Hubstaff tracks the URLs that an employee visits and presents them in a screen which looks like this:
Time spent on a website, percentage of total use, and a small bar for visualization.
There is another report for logging how much time an employee is using a particular app, which looks pretty similar to the website report:
See, no PUBG on my screen for close to 4 hours. That’s an achievement in itself!
Time Doctor also does the same thing, only it takes it a bit further.
This is how the Web and App usage report from Time Doctor looks like:
Both websites and applications on a single screen. Makes it that much easier to see where your employees are spending the maximum time, which means chances to increase productive time and eventually… more money.
Time Doctor also has an option of taking employees webcam shots in intervals of 10 minutes, and the user can see these shots of themselves alongside their tasks and completion rates.
Both apps use screenshots, website and application monitoring to track employee behavior online, but Time Doctor does a better job of projecting the data so that managers can make informed decisions quickly and effectively.
3. Distraction Management
We all get distracted at our workplace, whether it’s due to that good looking intern who is walking by or the new Fail video that everyone is watching on Youtube.
But that is valuable time lost, and we need a big brother to nudge us in the right direction.
This is where Time Doctor scores big time.
When it detects excessive usage of Facebook, Youtube or other personal sites, a small popup appears on the screen asking the employee if he was still working on the task assigned to him.
You don’t need to have “Unagi” as Ross Geller puts it, all you need is a useful tool that tells you to get back on track.
Distraction management as a feature is quite handy since it instills productivity and makes sure your employees are not getting sidetracked.
Sadly, Hubstaff does not have a comparable feature to stop employees from loitering around when they are supposed to be working. While Hubstaff may give you reports as to excessive time spent on a website or an app, time once lost is lost forever.
While Hubstaff gives reports and data to tell if your employees have been using their time unproductively, Time Doctor encourages your employees to get back to work in real time. Which when you look at its practical implications, works more effectively in improving productivity.
4. Employee Privacy
Tracking your time and letting your computer be monitored by an outside tool while you are working may sound a bit like an invasion of employee privacy, a grey area that most employers want to stay out of.
Both Hubstaff and Time Doctor clarify that they genuinely value employee privacy, and have put checks and measures in place to show that they know where to draw the line.
While monitoring employee activity via keystrokes and mouse movements, Hubstaff does not record keystrokes but merely assigns a value (true or false) to any key that was actually pressed.
So don’t worry about that crude joke that you wrote to your fellow employee while on a break. Hubstaff won’t tell anyone.
Time Doctor also clarifies that it only checks if a key was pressed during the time the employee was working and does not keep a record of which key was pressed.
Now coming to the testing waters of screenshots.
Both Hubstaff and Time Doctor have the optional functionality of taking screenshots of employees as they are working, but where do they store these screenshots and who has access to them?
Hubstaff stores its screenshots on Amazon’s S3 Servers.
High-level employees of Hubstaff, including developers, can access your screenshots from time to time.
Time Doctor, on the other hand, stores your screenshots on servers with which communication is secured via SSL encryption. The servers are located in secure data centers with 24/7 monitoring support. No third party can access your screenshots.
Both Hubstaff and Time Doctor monitor your keyboard and mouse activity, but don’t do “keyboard logging”. Both the tools also take screenshots of your team during their working hours and store them for a specified amount of time. Your employees should be made aware that their activity is being monitored during the the day.
The big question is: Do you want to share your screens with a third party (Hubstaff) or keep it in a secure private server (Time Doctor)? Your call.
5. Reports and Timesheets
Tracking employee time, making sure they are not getting distracted, and monitoring employee activity is all fine, but how do you analyze productivity?
Do you take detailed notes and then pull up your trusty old spreadsheet, typing away days of data, making sure it’s accurate, and hoping you haven’t slept at the keyboard. Sounds very interesting right?
What if we told you there was an easier method? These tools come bundled with a reports feature that makes your life that much easier.
Hubstaff, for instance, has a separate reports section, where you get detailed reports which look like this:
The reports are divided into five categories:
1. Weekly: Shows how many hours each of your team members have worked for that week, with a counter giving you total hours worked.
2. Daily: Shows how many hours each member of your team has logged for different projects on that particular day. You can also see the data that your team members have spent on tasks assigned by any of Hubstaff’s third-party integrations, such as Asana or Trello.
3. Projects: Shows how many hours each member of your team has spent on a particular project, within the selected date range. The total time spent on all the projects is displayed at the bottom.
4. Members: Similar to the projects report, but this report displays how much time an individual member has spent on different projects.
5. Custom: As the name suggests, a custom report page is one where you can see reports according to various filters that you apply. Different organizations, different projects, and various members, you can look at the data for all these categories in a single page.
You can also dig deeper and see reports for different tasks, see if your project members have left any notes, see activity levels for different members, among other things.
Hubstaff lets you send these reports by email to members outside the organization, download them as a pdf or a CSV file, so that you can view them offline and perform your own little magic tricks as you wish.
Does Hubstaff leave Time Doctor eating dust as it races ahead with its fancy reports? Not exactly.
Not one to be left behind, Time Doctor also gives us several options to generate comprehensive reports. Just like the other features, we think a bit different (No, we are not secretly owned by Apple!)
So what are these impressive reports that Time Doctor generates? Well there are eight different types (yes, you heard that right, 8!) and here’s a quick lowdown on each of them.
1. Dashboard: Shows a user’s current status, the total worked for the day (or week), and the times they worked. You can also hover over the timeline to see which tasks were being worked on and for how long.
2. Timesheet Report: Shows you the total amount of accountable time for a particular user for that day (or week).
3. Time use report: Shows the total time worked for one or more users and also how many hours they have spent on each task.
4. Timeline: Shows the activity for different users for the chosen day.
5. Poor Time Use: A report which shows the amount of time different users spends on websites which are not work-related, such as social media sites or YouTube.
6. Web and App Use report: Shows a list of applications or websites which you or your team used while working.
7. Projects: Shows how much time was spent on different projects and by which team members.
8. Attendance: A good old way of showing who was not present or was late to their scheduled working hours. Users can also add the reason they were absent, such as an appointment at the eye doctor’s for staring at the screen for too long or sleep deprivation after having seen reruns of Friends.
Most of the reports are downloadable as pdf or .CSV files, so you can access them even when you have poor internet connectivity.
Both tools generate different sets of reports that give a manager or an employee the ability to track their productivity and improve wherever possible.
Hubstaff takes a more conventional way of approaching this problem, and although they are quite comprehensive, the Hubstaff reports lack the versatility that some of the Time Doctor reports provide.
For instance, the Poor Time Use report is highly effective in understanding which non-work related websites or apps are taking up an employee’s time. This can enable managers to get to the underlying reason for wasted time and discuss with team members to find a solution.
Coming to the big question. How much are these tools going to set you back by?
Can you still run a profitable business managing a remote team? Or will you have to stop stocking your office canteen with those gourmet blueberry muffins in order to afford an excellent time-tracking tool?
Let’s start with Hubstaff.
There are three different plans that Hubstaff provides to all its users.
1. Free: As the name suggests, it’s free. This plan gives you basic time tracking and activity levels. There is a limit on the number of users that can be added, and it provides no added functionality.
Go for it if you just want to take the tool out for a spin to see what it feels like.
2. Basic: Starts at $5/month if you select the monthly plan and $4/month if you select the annual subscription. This plan gives you unlimited screenshots, 1 third-party integration, 24-hour support and the option of making payments through the tool.
Recommended if you like the basic version and want to explore the tool a bit more before committing to anything long term.
3. Premium: Priced at $10/ month for a monthly plan and $8.25/month for an annual subscription, this is the costliest plan and naturally the one with the maximum features.
You get everything that you got with the Basic version but also a host of other features such as Mobile and GPS tracking, time off and holidays, attendance monitoring, payroll and invoicing among others.
Recommended if you really know what you are getting into.
Hubstaff also offers a 14-day free trial, so for those who are still in doubt about choosing it, this is your chance.
Where does Time Doctor stand?
Time Doctor keeps it simple again with options starting from $7 per user per month. What do you get for shelling out your hard earned money?
It’s an exhaustive list, so I am going to show it to you rather than type it all out:
Basically, everything the software offers, you can try for a month, and if you like it, keep it for another month.
While Hubstaff offers you versatility with its different plans, the features it provides in its lower variants don’t exactly do justice to its long list of capabilities.
Time Doctor, on the other hand, takes a no-nonsense approach to its pricing, so you know that when you pay, you get a chance to glimpse everything the tool offers.
Oh, and they also offer a 14- day free trial as well.
7. Software Setup
We are almost at the end of this battle royale, where both these tools have tried to beat each other up with similar features and competitive pricing.
But what’s the use of a fancy tool if it’s not easy to use by your team members?
Like your neighbor who had the brilliant idea of buying a Ferrari at the age of 82.
Can he put the machine through its paces? No.
Does he look cool sitting inside it? Eww no!
Does it bother others that the Ferrari is just a waste of money? Definitely, Yes.
Coming back to our tools, you don’t want to invest in a white elephant because let’s face it; there’s no point in making costly mistakes.
So in this section, we are comparing the two tools on the basis of their ease of use.
We begin with Hubstaff.
The setup of Hubstaff is pretty straightforward. Your manager/employer sends you an invitation to join Hubstaff, and you just have to accept it.
Enter a few more details like your name and Email address and confirm this email, and you are swiftly redirected to a download section.
Download the Hubstaff tool, select your operating system (Hubstaff supports Mac, Linux, and Windows) and run the installation.
Once complete, log in with your credentials, and you can see a list of projects that your manager has assigned to you. You can click on any project that you wish to start and boom, you are good to go.
Is Time Doctor as easy to set up? You bet it is.
Just download the Time Doctor app from the website.
Run the installer, enter your email address and password when prompted and before you can say “What the..,” Time Doctor has started monitoring your productivity.
Both the tools are relatively easy to set up. Where Time Doctor wins is that it lets you directly download the tool from its website, whereas Hubstaff asks you for your email and login credentials or needs to have an invite sent by your employer.
Although on the surface both these tools look similar and perform the same function, when you dig deeper, it is evident that Time Doctor beats Hubstaff in most of the categories.
Better UI, more comprehensive reports, better distraction management, clearer pricing and ease of setup, Time Doctor wins because it pays attention to all the small details.
We hope we were able to help you choose a suitable tool to improve your team’s productivity. So how about signing up for a free trial of Time Doctor?