Tracking time

How we work

How we work

A paramount aspect of our work is our ability to make good use of the time we spend at the office. Measuring time is essential in order to spend it efficiently.

There are two different measures of how we spend our time:

  • hours of presence in the office;
  • hours of activity on projects.

There are similarities and differences between these two concepts.

Hours of presence

Your contract includes the number of hours you are expected to be in the office during a regular work day. Of course, because some of us work remotely, "hours at the office" really means "hours spent working", including small pauses, like it would in a physical office. If you work full-time, you are expected to have 8 hours/day of presence.

During this time we expect you to be physically in the office if you chose to work from the office, or in front of your computer if you chose to work remotely.

With that said, you have full flexibility when it comes to when you work. For instance, you could:

  • start at 10am, have lunch from 1pm to 2pm and stop working at 7pm, or
  • start working at 9am, have lunch 1pm to 2:30pm and stop working at 6:30pm.

At the end of the day, you should calculate the number of hours you have spent at work. If you have a standard schedule, this can be easily done by calculating the number of hours between your start and end time and subtracting any major breaks, including your lunch break (going to the bathroom or any other short breaks do not count). Once you have this number, you should report any time off or overtime as needed:

  • if you were present less than the expected hours, you should report time off;
  • if you were present more than the expected hours, you should report overtime.

NOTE: You CANNOT "compensate" time off with overtime on your own. For instance, you cannot take 30 minutes off today and stay 30 minutes more tomorrow without reporting it, but it is perfectly acceptable to do it if you report 30 minutes of time off today and 30 minutes of overtime tomorrow. Compensation does happen, but it is done by HR rather than the individual employee.

Hours of work

These are the hours you actually spend on work tasks and are tracked via Harvest. Keep in mind that Harvest is NOT a tool for controlling employees. We use it in order to be 100% transparent towards our clients and to improve our time management skills. If you are worried about it, reach out to your mentor and they will be able to answer all of your questions!

Our Harvest account is setup with various projects and each project has several subtasks. Generally speaking, each client project gets its own project in Harvest and has tasks for Software Development, Project Management and so on. All of these tasks are billable, meaning any time you track will show up in the client's invoice at the end of the month. This means we need to be extra careful not to bill any time we don't spend working for a client.

Unfortunately, the line between billable and non-billable time is not always clear and, as each project is unique, there is no universal rule we can set. We trust you to make the right decisions in accordance with our values. Here are some helpful hints:

We consider this time to be billable:

  • time spent working directly for the client;
  • time spent pairing with another developer on the project;
  • time spent communicating about work done for the client;
  • time spent studying resources we need to work for the client.

On the other hand, we do not consider this time to be billable:

  • time spent studying generic resources not specific to the client's project (e.g. if you're a junior developer and are reading about MVC, we don't want the client to pay for this);
  • time spent waiting the client to reply (but, if you're constantly blocked by the client, you should reach out to your mentor).

Also remember: multi-tasking is the enemy of time management. Not only does it actually slow you down instead of speeding you up, it also makes it virtually impossible to track time accurately. If you are struggling with multi-tasking or tracking time accurately, reach out to your mentor.

Internal projects

In addition to the client projects, Harvest also contains several projects and tasks for internal use. There is a project you should use for your Friday time, a project you should use for 1:1s, a project you should use for studying… These tend to change over time as we add new projects and restructure existing ones, so if you're in doubt, contact your mentor.

A special mention goes to the Time Wasting project. This is a generic project where you can track any time you have spent at the office, but not actually working. For instance, this could be time you have spent having coffee with a colleague, time spent waiting for direction from your mentor/client or anything else that does not strictly qualify as work but still happened at work.

Usage of this project is optional. When it is available, we use the data we collect from the project to see if there are any inefficiencies in company organization that we can streamline. However, we feel free not to use it if you're not too fond of it or you find it too cumbersome to start the time tracker in these situations.

Presence vs. activity

You may have noticed there is some overlap between the two concepts of "hours of presence" and "hours of work".

For instance, if you have reported 9 hours of work on Harvest, it's clear you have worked overtime, no matter how you have spent those hours (even if one hour was spent on Time Wasting, it's still an hour spent at work).

Similarly, if you have reported 7 hours, you may have taken some time off. However, if you have actually spent 8 hours at the office or your remote workspace, there's no need to report time off, because small breaks and other interruptions during the course of work are to be expected.

To sum up: tracked overtime must always be reported, time off may or may not have to be reported depending on whether the untracked time was spent during a regular work break or outside of work.

If you're in doubt, contact your mentor and they will be able to help!