Can Automatic Time tracking Software Be Tricked?

The workplace ecosystem has undergone a dramatic change as technology has steadily spread into offices in the past years. But the pace of change has been blinding of late.

One of the outcomes of increased technology usage has been companies’ ability to embrace hybrid and remote working models during the Covid pandemic. Even as offices open up to resume business as usual, organizations around the world are keen to continue with remote and hybrid models for several reasons. One of the key factors shaping this perspective is employees’ desire for a better work-life balance and more flexible work hours. 

Companies have invested considerable sums to create the required remote work infrastructure, with sizable investments in cloud systems, ERP, time tracking software packages, and digital transformation. However, this infusion of technology has created new challenges; for example, how to foolproof time tracking systems left vulnerable to workers who might trick the software, lowering productivity and denting corporate revenue, forcing them to wonder whether or not can automatic time tracking software be tricked?

Can Automatic Time Tracking Software be Tricked?

Yes! The above reasons make a solid case for time tracking software, underlining why organizations have incorporated them into their systems. However, not all time tracking tools are tamper-proof, and some employees may use intelligent means to circumvent them. Many organizations now offer employees significant autonomy to create a work-friendly atmosphere and have abandoned micro-management approaches to employee administration. However, some supervision is required to comply with organizational guidelines.

However, no means of direct and in-person oversight exists when operating remotely. Thus, the probability of employees not working optimally or being absent from their workstations is high. Of course, this does not apply to all employees, but some will take advantage of remote setups to avoid working.

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How Employees Trick Time Tracking Software

1.     By Automating the Mouse

It may seem far-fetched, but remote-controlled toys are one of the new ways to trick time-tracking software tools. Employees can tie their mouse to the remote-operated toy and move it around to keep the computer screen active. It is a common yet effective way of deceiving the software, which assumes that the system user is active and registers the information accordingly.

2.     Opening Small Windows

Some employees prefer opening small windows while using another full-screen window for unofficial work. For example, they browse non-work-related websites while opening another small window, which the tracker considers productive engagement. This significant loophole allows workers to spend their billable work surfing the Internet for non-work-related activities. 

Multiple Browsing Windows

3.     Setting Up Remote Access on Official Computers

Setting up remote access is another method to outwit tracking systems. Workers could be away from their computers and access them remotely by installing the software on their official computers. They follow this by setting up remote access clients to link with another computer, which is often their non-official laptop. They can use this mechanism and engage in non-productive activities. The tracking tool considers it productive and often stores it as remote access work-related.

4.     Timing the Screenshots Taken By the Tools

Time tracking tools usually have timers that capture screenshots at regular intervals. However, the algorithm that captures screenshots is predictable, allowing workers to time the gaps between which the tool captures their computer screens. Thus, they can engage in non-productive activity and time the screenshots to open work-related sites and software packages. This is a common deception technique that employees use to trick organizations. 

5.     Changing Software Codes

Employees can also tamper with software codes. Workers can alter codes to their advantage if they are well-versed with hacking and related tools. However, this requires considerable knowledge of computers and software and is a relatively uncommon method of time theft. 

6.     Using Multiple Monitors

Some tracking tools cannot capture screenshots and gather information from two monitors, which is a shortcoming that some employees exploit. They use the first monitor to open every work-related application while conducting non-work-related activities on the second monitor. Thus, they can continue to engage in non-productive activities as the system cannot detect the arrangement, causing significant loss with wastage of billable hours. 

How an Intelligent Time-Tracking System Can Help

Replicon, a cloud-first intelligent time tracking solution, works seamlessly to help you build cohesiveness across teams, which is mandatory when most companies are adopting a remote or hybrid workplace setup. Replicon is configurable, scalable, and global as per the organization’s needs. 

Employees can access timesheets on the go and on various devices. Replicon has a foolproof compliance strategy, making it difficult to breach. Thus, the chances of employees tampering with it are negligible.

With Replicon, you will gain:

Assignment-related Notifications

Organizations can use Replicon’s time-tracking system to notify their users about new work assignments or changes. Thus, employees are always aware of their deliverables, saving time that they can lose coordinating or clarifying work. It also provides workers with complete visibility into their work pipeline, helping them prioritize tasks based on their deadlines. 

Ensure Proactive Action

With Replicon, companies can create real-time alerts to notify users when business metrics reach a certain threshold to initiate corrective actions. This mechanism allows companies to remain on top of business deliverables. 

Effective Collaboration

Replicon’s tool provides an alerts and notifications library to keep teams aware of the processes and next steps to enable effective collaboration. This is a significant feature, notably for geographically-dispersed teams that work remotely, from different time zones. 

Simple Time Entry Mechanism

Replicon’s easy-to-use interface ensures complete adoption, allowing organizations to capture time accurately.

Cloud Clock 

This intelligent clock application automates punching “in” and “out” and prevents time theft by preventing clock-in by co-workers – also referred to as “buddy punching” – which is one of the primary ways workers engage in time theft. We estimate that buddy punching costs organizations between 1.5% and 3% of their payroll costs.

Activity Tracking 

Organizations can track employee time worked on a precise activity and can view time for a full pay period on a single screen. This feature offers organizations granular visibility into employee work hours and calculates their salaries, plugging any possibility of revenue leakage. 

Validation Rules 

Organizations can set up validation rules, which provide limits or checks on work hours entered. For example, you could set a maximum number of hours a worker can record per day or per pay period. Such restrictions help enforce organizational policies. Plus, validation rules reduce costly errors flowing into payroll and billing processes.

Data Collection

Replicon’s robust and configurable reporting platform empowers organizations to collect the specific time entry data they need and export it into actionable reports in just a few hours rather than weeks or months.

Flexible Pay Codes 

Replicon allows organizations to devise pay codes and automatically apply the correct pay rate calculations to the right employee, reducing manual effort and enhancing accuracy.

Automated Reminders with Emails and Alerts 
Organizations can send timely reminders to employees and managers for on-time submission and approval of timesheets. 

Approvals 

Replicon provides configurable approval workflows – and supports many levels of approval – allowing accurate timesheets signed off by all relevant approvers. 

Time is the most critical and costly resource, and organizations must ensure it is used efficiently. Employee time theft is an expensive issue, and organizations often have limited options for recovering the lost money. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and automated timesheets are the best time theft prevention at companies’ disposal. 

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Shashank Shekhar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shashank Shekhar

Shashank is Content Marketing Manager at Replicon. He loves reading and writing about new technologies and their impact on shaping the future of work. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.

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