Upwork (formerly oDesk) is a fantastic platform for finding contractors and remote staff from any country in the world.
Typically, web developers, writers, admin assistants and programmers are easy to find in Upwork. Anyone can search and find workers, view ratings, work history and competencies. It also provides a service to contractors to guarantee payment from employers.
Upwork also has a very handy set of tools. The Upwork Work Diary is used to track team members working hours (with screen shots and activity tracking to make sure that employees are accurately recording their hours worked).
While there are huge number of benefits to using a platform like Upwork, there aren’t a lot of options for employers who are hiring staff that aren’t registered. There’s also the matter of the 10% fee. For a full time staff member in the US (with a salary of $5,000 per month), a fee of $500 per month isn’t feasible or realistic.
Time Doctor is very different from Upwork; however it does offer a unique alternative to the Upwork Work Diary and it can be used by anyone, for any type of workforce (including telecommuters, office staff, or remote teams).
If you have staff outside of the oDesk platform and are looking for software like oDesk you might find Time Doctor a useful alternative.
On Odesk screen captures are taken every 15 minutes, and are viewed by workers as they are taken. This is great for the worker as they can easily remove the image if they were not working at that time. If they remove a screen shot their time will not be recorded for that period. Additionally, oDesk enables employers to view their employees via a web camera.
The Time Doctor system has screen shots as an option, although it’s usually not necessary for most users as there are several other features to confirm that a person is working (such as recording web sites visited and applications used). Time Doctor allows managers to change how frequently the screen shots are taken. It also allow you to download all the captures to your desktop so that you can view them quickly after downloading. It does not include any web cam features.
Activity tracking on oDesk is done via notes every few minutes where you enter the latest activity. Time Doctor takes a different approach where staff members have a list of their daily top priorities and then they simply click on the priority that they are working on. In this way, Time Doctor allows real time tracking of all activities, including the exact start and finish time of an activity (instead of tracking broad categories of work).
Odesk has the ability to view an “activity meter” which shows how much the person used their mouse and keyboard during each 15 minute time slot. Time Doctor does not have a similar feature, however it will automatically allocate a worker as “on a break” if they are away from their computer for more than 3 minutes. There are also options for the person to track time off their computer (meetings, phone calls, etc) which you can’t do with the oDesk Team tool.
Time Doctor has some additional features which include tracking web sites visited and applications used (tracked the entire time while working, but not when a person is on a break). Time Doctor also provides daily reports of exactly how long a person worked on each task and what their planned priorities are for the next day.
Probably the greatest advantage of using Time Doctor over the oDesk Team tool is that it can be used by organization of any size with staff anywhere in the world; the platform contains a number of user management features and enhanced reports to help streamline daily management tasks. In terms of time tracking software used to manage contractors working from home, there is nothing that we have found that can comprehensively track time worked and monitor if the person is really working as well as Time Doctor.
At the time of writing, Time Doctor is free to try – a commercial product will be available mid 2011 with a tentative price point of 15 to 20 cents per hour tracked (depending on the size of the organization).
If you are interested in finding or hiring remote staff read this article on how to manage an overseas remote working team.
If you are considering other software, please contact us and we’ll let you know how it weighs in.