Times are changing.
As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, it's natural for us, as a species, to begin challenging the norms of everyday life.
For many small business owners, a big part of that process is reevaluating the notion that employees should be in direct line of sight. Physically present, day in, day out.
And with studies showing that remote workers are actually more productive than traditional office-dwellers, it's no surprise that time tracking software is making such a splash in 2018.
In this article, I'll be continuing my review series of popular time tracking software. Today, the spotlight shines to OnTheClock.
What Is OnTheClock?
OnTheClock is a web-based time tracking tool founded in 2003 by Dean Mathews.
Unlike other, more generalist time tracking tools *cough* Toggl, OnTheClock was designed to offer a "punch in, punch out" system, so employers (or managers) could generate time cards and perform payroll.
The software was primarily built with small business owners in mind, though a small portion of their customer base are also freelancers.
Adding & Managing Employees
Adding employees is where the fun begins. After signing up to OnTheClock, you'll be prompted to add all your employees to the system.
You can add these individually, or in bulk. Any more than 25 employees, however, and you'll need to have them imported for you.
Here's what the bulk interface looks like:
Personally, I think having to input this information for every single employee could be a little overwhelming for busy business owners.
Ideally, you'd only have to input email addresses, at which point an invite can be sent out that requires the employee to enter their own information.
Once you've got everyone added, you can click 'Save' to send the invites via text message or email.
From the Employees dashboard, you can click into anyone to view or add information to their profile.
There are some really useful options here such as adding things like hours per day, overtime rules, and even group punching (clocking).
And that's not even the half of it.
This page provides even more options to sift through if you're looking to go the extra mile.
Let me give you a quick overview of what you can do here:
- PTO Rules: Configure rules for the amount of paid time off an employee is entitled to.
- Security: Configure security preferences such as IP authorization and fingerprint access.
- Alerts & Messaging: Enable and configure SMS messaging, as well employee messaging.
- Pay Rates: Configure different types of pay rates such as overtime, vacation and sick leave.
- Automation: Configure automatic punch in/out time slot, as well as things like "auto breaks".
I don't know about you, but I find the level of control here pretty damn impressive. It feels as though every possible outcome is accounted for.
I should point out that you're not required to go through these settings for every employee, but it's certainly nice to have the option for those who want to get super granular.
There's one last thing I wanted to mention before I wrap up this section, and that's employee recognition.
What you see above is the public dashboard, allowing the entire team to view achievements awarded by their employer.
(This includes badges, such as employee of the month, or kudos, which is more of a custom achievement.)
Some might find this cheesy, but I actually like the concept. What I don't like, however, is just how the poorly the graphics and public pages are designed, which makes it feel like more of a joke than a genuine achievement.
The Time Clock
The core feature of this and any other time tracking tool is, of course, the ability to track time — so let's talk about that.
First thing you should know is that this is a cloud-based system, meaning your employees aren't required to install anything to get this running besides a web browser.
(There was also mention of a downloadable app, but the welcome email didn't link to it for some reason?)
Anyway, all your employee's need to do in order to punch in, is log in, and hit the big green "Punch In' button.
(Note: I got logged out immediately after punching in, and had to login again in order to punch out. Not very user-friendly.)
Aside from that, it's pretty a simple system, but that's how it should be on the employee side.
On the employer side, however, there's certainly a whole lot more going on under the hood.
You can get to the time clock settings by first logging into the website, at which point you'll be greeted by this dashboard:
At this stage, I really need to mention the interface.
It looks like something that was put together in the late 90's, and considering OnTheClock was founded in 2003, that's probably not far from reality.
Not taking anything away from the functionality of the software (which I'll talk more about in a sec), in a visual sense, it's not very welcoming and I feel that could easily be remedied with a more modern design.
Anywho, aside from setting up the basics, such time zone and pay periods, OnTheClock brings another interesting feature to the table.
The time clock "widget".
The widget can be placed on your website (using the embed code) to display an interactive "Punch In" box.
Here's a representation of what it looks like in action:
Seriously, how can you not like that?
My only complaint is the technical aspect of setting this up, especially with the absence of something like a simple WordPress plugin to make it easier for the average Joe to implement.
To sum it up, the time clock feature is feature-rich in all the right places, while maintaining a simple but effective solution for employees to track their time.
What's the use in tracking time if you can't make heads or tails of the numbers?
This is why reporting is such a crucial aspect of any time tracking software, and OnTheClock certainly has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The first is called "Who's In?", and this is more of a "real-time" reporting feature that allows you to see who's clocked in right now.
You'll also notice the option to manually punch someone in and out, though I'm struggling to come up with a good use-case for that one.
There's no time like the present, but what about looking into the week (or month) ahead?
Well, for that, you may want to check out the handy 'Schedule' feature.
For most people, however, the most crucial reporting aspect of this tool is looking into the past to see how much time has actually been tracked.
And to do that, you'll want to head over to the 'Time Cards' menu item.
Here, you can get a weekly breakdown of every employee, how long they've worked, what they earned, and a grand total of these values for everyone combined.
(You'll be pleased to know OnTheClock also integrates with Quickbooks and a number of other payroll solutions)
Again, while this is clearly a useful and well thought out feature, the interface could really do with some love.
To give you just one example, choosing a time period gives you a HUGE drop down menu:
Not only does this menu go off my screen, but it removes any date flexibility by tying you into set weekly periods. It's a UX nightmare.
A simple date picker would be a much better solution.
Not a deal breaker by any means, but these little inconveniences start to stack up quickly and it makes an otherwise very comprehensive tool feel somewhat outdated (excuse the pun).
Before we wrap up this review, let's quickly cover pricing.
OnTheClock charges on a per employee basis, so the more employees you plan on plugging into this system, the more you pay.
If you're a freelancer and/or run a very small team, you'll be glad to know OnTheClock is free for up to 2 employees.
Pretty reasonable, wouldn't you say? I would.
The thing is though, if you go even 1 employee over that limit, you no longer get those freebies... which I find a bit odd.
For example, by signing up with 3 employees, you're effectively paying 3 times more for a single additional user.
You may have also noticed the "from $2.20 per employee" line at the top of the page when the pricing appears to be starting at $2.50 per.
Aside from consistency issues on the pricing page, there's no doubting that OnTheClock is fairly priced and well worth the investment.
OnTheClock is undoubtably one of the most complete time tracking tools on the market, and it's not hard to see why it's now used by more than 7,000 companies today.
Not only do you have seemingly endless options to customize and tailor the time tracking environment to your business, but it's also excellent for evaluating time sheets and sending to payroll.
For me, personally, the software is only held back by it's old-school interface and some questionable UX decisions, which ultimately makes it difficult to really fall in love with.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to give OnTheClock a try, click here to get a 30-day free trial.