Private time at work - let your employees have personal time with DeskTime

The importance of private time and breaks at work is indisputable. Whether you’re a manager who oversees a group of employees, a company owner, or a freelancer that uses a personal computer, private time is a feature for building trust and maintaining professionalism between all parties.

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What is private time at work?

Screenshot of DeskTime’s project billing dashboard

The private time feature in DeskTime is an option that allows your employees to take a digital timeout on their computer. When it’s turned on, their automatically tracked work time is paused and all tracking of computer activity ceases. This is effectively the same as walking away from the computer, except that you know that they’re physically here.

When and why would employees use DeskTime private time?

While DeskTime is designed to track and log all computer activity, from websites visited to the software used, there are times when it’s necessary to turn off this tracking during work and turn work time into personal time. Your employees can then rest assured that any website they visit won’t be listed in DeskTime and that you won’t ask them questions.

Personal reasons

Personal reasons

Whether your worker wants to check their email or look up news and articles on the internet, DeskTime will create a log of it. This tracking may be a problem for emails because the subject line is what gets captured. Your workers also know that reading certain articles on the web could open their browsing habits, political views, and other interests to judgment. As a manager, encouraging workers to a personal timeout means that they can feel secure about their privacy.

Social media browsing

Social media browsing

Employees know that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are particularly vulnerable to scrutiny because such websites can be unproductive and can reveal sensitive information. But this doesn’t mean that these sites should be avoided at work. Letting your employees control their privacy for social media browsing shows them that you care about them.

Shopping

Shopping

Shopping at work is oftentimes frowned upon. Even if it’s not at your workplace, it’s unlikely that an employee would want shopping habits to be made known to you out of the fear that you may suspect them to be an unproductive and lavish spender. Of course, you know that no worker wants to be asked about that. So, go ahead, tell your employees that it’s fine for them to shop on their personal time at work, reminding them that you understand their needs.

Proof of work

Proof of work

There may be times when a freelancer needs to or decides to show a list of URLs visited and window titles switched to as proof of resources used. In such a case, it would be wise to include only what’s relevant to the job. Therefore, out of professionalism, pausing tracking to create some personal time for oneself during work should be a necessity so as to not record revealing information.

Enabling DeskTime private time.

To have your employees take a digital timeout and stop being tracked, you can show them how – here are the steps:

Screenshot of DeskTime’s private time feature
  • Locate the DeskTime icon in the taskbar on Mac, Linux, or Windows

  • Click the DeskTime icon

  • Find the “private time” option

  • Left click it

  • That’s it! If you want to turn it off, just re-do the steps above.

Using private time is the best way to take care of personal business during working hours. Here are some of the FAQs to show you why.

How does the private time function let employees feel safe?

Nobody likes being inspected over their shoulder – or in this case, through the screens of their computers. That’s why it’s essential to incorporate a sort of privacy nook within the time-tracking software you use. Private time is an excellent option for shorter or medium-length breaks like checking social media, paying bills, reading personal emails, the news, etc. You don't have to clock out, you can still use your work computer, but none of the activities will be tracked.

How does private time promote a healthy work-life balance?

Everyone takes breaks and can have a personal itinerary to take care of even during work hours. It's everyone's own business how they spend their lunch break, for example. Besides, the fact that you work doesn't mean that the world around you stops spinning during the workday – there are things you just can't postpone to the evening. It's completely fine to use time during the day to take care of time-sensitive matters. People should feel free to book appointments, responding to urgent private messages, or check their bank accounts without the risk of anyone seeing any sensitive information they might not want to share at work.

Can employers prevent users from using the private time function?

DeskTime is a fully customizable tool, so, yes, employers do have the option of preventing users from using private time (the feature can be disabled in Settings → Teams). However, if earning the trust of your staff and getting them to feel more comfortable with the concept of time tracking overall is your primary task, then we’d recommend leaving this feature be.

Is there a way to remember to turn private time off?

It can be annoying when you turn on private time but then go back to work, and it turns out you haven’t turned it off. So a ton of your time isn’t accurately tracked. Fortunately, you can turn on private time reminders that give you a nudge in case you’ve forgotten. All you have to do is click “Private time reminder” in the drop-down menu of the desktop app.

Why is providing private time a big part of successfully using time tracking software?

When it comes to time tracking, communication is key. Let your team know that time tracking is used for productivity purposes only. Using private time lets people know that it's ok to take breaks and that it's ok that they have lives outside of work. Listen to your employees if they have any doubts about time tracking or they don’t feel safe with a feature or two. Be ethical and don’t spy on every little thing people might be doing.

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