What is working day photography and how to use it in business

Working Day Photography (FDR) is one way to find out what your employees are doing from the first to the last minute of the working day. This is not a photograph in the usual sense of the word, that is, you do not need to follow an employee with a camera and take pictures. But this is not surveillance of personnel, as is the case with CCTV cameras.

PFD is a method in which the actions or inactions of an employee are automatically recorded using computer programs. There is also an option when such fixation is carried out by a responsible employee. The data is recorded on a special card. This variant of the FRD is used more often.

In the article, in addition to general information about photographs of the working day, we will consider the experience of Marina, who works as an economist in a hotel and part-time is engaged in reporting on the FRD. For the hotel, this method of fixing the actions of employees turned out to be very useful in order to control non-office employees (cooks, maids, animators, cleaners, etc.). We will also look at common mistakes when using FDD and how to fix them, and give you a FDD template that you can adapt to your needs.

Why FRD is needed

With the help of FRD, you can find out how employees or staff of your company actually work, who and what does during the working day. You can estimate differently how much the maid spends on cleaning the room, and the waiter on serving one table. But the best thing is to go and see.

Watching the process of work, you will be able to understand:

  • what a person does during working hours;
  • how much work he performs per unit of time;
  • how much time it takes him to complete certain tasks;
  • how to improve working conditions;
  • whether it is necessary to reduce or expand staff;
  • how to organize work more efficiently.

Working day photography as a method is applicable in any company. You can track not only workers who perform manual labor, but also office workers, for example.

It is important to understand that the FRD does not involve constant surveillance of employees. This method allows you to collect data in order to analyze them later. Therefore, it does not need to be used constantly. It is worth implementing this method only when it is necessary to solve some problem with the performance of duties for employees or with the provision of services (customer service) for the business as a whole.

Features of the FRD

Surveillance requires a lot of resources. If a large FRD process is planned (10-15 employees need to be monitored), then a whole group of observers will need to be assembled. Therefore, it is unprofitable to use the method constantly or too often – observers also need to be paid a salary. Or employees have to postpone their current responsibilities if people from the same company are involved in the process.

If employees from the personnel department, accountant, etc. act as observers, then they can act only by special order of the head. The larger your business, the more workers will be involved in the process.

FRD is a certain discomfort for both observers and employees. The former are obliged to have time to fulfill their direct duties, and also to conduct surveillance. For the latter, this is a direct intervention in their workflow. It is hard to convince a person who has been monitored that this is not a check from the authorities, and no one is going to fire him, punish him or reward him. The observable will still do its job differently than it normally does. But even this is valuable for analysis.

Before proceeding with the observation, workers need to explain why this process was initiated. If you share with them the problem that the business is facing and ask for help to sort it out, it will remove the negative. Ask a person to show how everything is arranged for him, and he will meet you halfway.

Experience in the use of FRD in the hotel business

Let’s go back to the example of Marina, who works as an economist at a hotel. Its management uses the FRD when it is necessary to recalculate the schedule norms for the working staff of the hotel – waiters, cleaners, cooks and animators.

Supervision is entrusted to employees from the personnel department, and Marina, as an economist, processed the received records, generated a final report and conveyed proposals for optimizing work to her superiors. When the observations were extensive, she went out and took part in the FRD herself.

As described above, if employees are explained what FRD is and why it is carried out, then there will be no discontent or aggression. In practice, it is. The hotel where Marina works has a generally positive atmosphere and friendly staff. Therefore, the employees were absolutely calm about the fact that a person walks behind them all day and keeps records.

Varieties of FRD

There are several ways to organize FRD in a company. Let’s briefly describe each.

self photography

This method assumes that the employee independently keeps records of his actions, and then transfers the records to superiors. Office workers do an excellent job with such a FRD: they are used to working with documents, and keeping records, as a rule, does not disturb their work rhythm in any way and does not distract from their direct duties. But it will be much more difficult for a barber, dishwasher or cleaner to remain effective in their work if they also have to do FRD.

It is very important to entrust such a task to responsible employees. A person must understand how useful observations and reporting on them can be. If you entrust the conduct of the FRD to an unreliable employee who perceives the process as your whim or formality, then both your time and the time of this employee will be wasted – there will be no benefit from the FRD.

Pros and cons of this method

The main disadvantage of self-photography is bias. The manager runs the risk of receiving an incomplete or incompletely truthful report from an employee, because when a person describes his actions himself, he may be silent about some things. For example, few people will honestly write about the fact that they spent more time on a break than was allotted for it according to the schedule. Also, the employee is unlikely to admit that part of the working time was engaged in personal affairs or corresponded in the messenger.

Among the indisputable advantages of self-photography is the low cost of resources. You do not need to involve an outside observer in the FRD, tear him away from his work and create discomfort for the observed.

Organize FRD in this way, it’s up to you. Consider whether it will be convenient for the employee to keep records on their own. For example, in the same hotel for a maid or a cook, such a task would be an absolute absurdity.

Automated FRD

Automated photography of the working day is when the employee is monitored not by another authorized employee of your enterprise, but by a computer program. It itself determines the productivity of a person’s work, fixes what programs and how long he used, and how long he did nothing at all. The FRD program also takes screenshots of the monitor so that the manager knows for sure that the employee did not play solitaire during work.

There are a lot of programs to automate FRD. We will give a couple of examples:

  1. TimeDoctor. Counts how long the employee used the computer, takes screenshots of the screen at regular intervals. It also tracks the correspondence and websites visited by the employee.
  2. Kickidler. This is not just a program, but a whole system of online monitoring of employees. It fully tracks the working day of an employee. Including fixes lateness and early departures from work. Based on these data, reports and timesheets are generated. Kickidler also captures the entire history of activity on the computer and warns management about suspicious employee actions. Through the program, the manager can at any time see what the employee is doing.

Automated worker productivity monitoring can only be used in offices or to track the work of remote employees. If your business is associated with manual or physical labor, then you will not be able to use such programs. An automated FDD can be used to control the work of a programmer, designer, marketer, etc. But for tracking a driver, seller or engineer, this method will not work.

Employers have every right to use an automated FRD – the law gives the right to control the performance of duties by an employee. On the other hand, the same employee has the right to receive complete and reliable information about working conditions. This means that before introducing an automated FDD, an employer must:

  • notify the employee in writing;
  • tell what kind of observation will be and what exactly will be monitored;
  • get the signature of the employee, which confirms that he is notified of the innovations and agrees with them.

For managers, for example, IT companies, automated FRD is convenient in that you can generate a report on the productivity of your subordinates at any time: see who works overtime and who underworks and often skips work, figure out how to increase office productivity and understand what time it is needed to complete a given task.

Things to Consider When Using an Automated FDD in the Office

Automated photography has a drawback: no program will capture what the employee was doing until he pressed the keyboard buttons. After all, at this time he could not chat with colleagues, but solve some work issues.

For example, the program will not be able to track how long it took a copywriter to print papers on an old printer that constantly jams the paper. But it is precisely the problematic office equipment and the undeveloped workplace that significantly slow down the work. Knowing this, company management can improve the efficiency of their employees, but the program will not show this.

FRD in the usual sense of this method

In the standard understanding of the FDR, it is assumed that an outside person observes the work activity of the employee, who records all the actions of the observed in a special form – the FRD card.

This kind of working day photo can be used in any business. But it manifests itself best of all “in the field” – where a person works physically, and not at a computer.

The main drawback of the classical FRD is the human factor. On the one hand, the employee, knowing that he is being watched, will try to do his work better, more accurately, which, perhaps, is slower. On the other hand, the observer may miss something or misinterpret something.

Therefore, when studying the report, it is necessary to highlight the dry facts, to see the objective circumstances. Otherwise, a qualitative result from the FDR will not work.

An example of using automated workday photography in business

Tatiana’s company has developed and maintains several web services. They currently have 45 employees on staff. Approximately 2/3 regularly use TimeDoctor. Basically, this program is connected to those employees who are engaged in the main, oldest projects of the company. Whether to use TimeDoctor for new projects and in new teams is always decided by the management: sometimes, as an experiment, this program is not installed for new employees.

Why the company chose TimeDoctor

The service for analyzing the working time of the team was needed by Tatiana’s business 5 years ago, when the company’s management realized that employees were drowning in routine and did not have time to complete important tasks.

First, the company introduced self-photography: each employee himself recorded his working day. The tasks that he was engaged in, and the time spent on them, the employee recorded in a simple Excel spreadsheet. But it was extremely inconvenient and had a negative impact on the performance of the team.

Then the management suggested picking up an automated tracker. For two weeks, Tatyana’s company tested different programs: separate groups of employees used different services and recorded their advantages and disadvantages. As a result, we settled on TimeDoctor.

This program has a lot of advantages:

  • a separate application with tasks and the ability to switch between them;
  • integration with task trackers (for example, with Trello);
  • multi-level reports that mark the time spent on different projects.

But it should be borne in mind that all TimeDoctor support is in English, because if employees do not know the language well enough, the program cannot be used effectively.

FRD in the employment contract

As mentioned above, the employee must be aware of the FRD practices in your company. If you use FRD in your business on an ongoing basis, as Tatyana’s company does, then this condition should be indicated in the employment contract signed by each employee.

Tatyana’s company wrote in the TD that the employee is obliged to record the time it takes him to complete certain tasks in a software tool recommended by the employer. In practice, this does not worsen working conditions in any way. The employee knows in advance that, according to the time tracker, he is required to work 7 hours a day. At the same time, he sets the number and duration of breaks for himself.

The attitude of employees to the FRD

In IT or digital companies, time tracking is treated differently. Tatyana’s company has two opposite opinions about using TimeDoctor. Some consider this tool useless, others are sure that the program allows you to create your schedule more flexibly.

There is no sharp negative towards the FRD, but basically the employee simply forgets to turn on the tracker. In such cases, the management allows you to mark the hours of work after the fact.

If we talk about new personnel, then basically time tracking scares applicants. There have been cases when applicants refused to be interviewed after they found out that they would have to work with a tracker. Most often, programmers refuse to work with FRD.

To prevent negativity about the photo of the working day, it is better to warn applicants about this in advance, even in the announcement of the search for new employees. Then those who are not afraid of time tracking will come to you, and at the interview you can tell them in more detail about this.

Why IT companies use FRD

Not every company uses the FRD to monitor and control employees. If your business is based on office work, then the use of time tracker programs also helps to comply with the principle of fairness. It does not matter where your employee worked, in the office or at home, or what time he came to work. Thanks to the FRD, management will know for sure that everyone has worked the same amount of time and no one has been idle.

In addition, it is often very important for company management and project managers to know how much time it took to draw a website layout, for example, or to write HTML code.

Each employee has access to individual TimeDoctor statistics. The general statistics of all employees is seen only by the head of the company, project managers and personnel officers. It is these people who motivate employees, distribute tasks, calculate personnel costs and draw up work sheets.

How exactly FRD helps to optimize the work of the company

With the help of a tracker, management sees that a person is inefficiently spending his working time. In such a situation, solutions may be different, but you should always start with a conversation. For example, you notice that a newcomer spends a lot of time on simple tasks. After talking with him, it becomes clear that he did not fully understand the introductory information. Accordingly, he needs to be trained, and everyone will benefit: the company gets a productive employee, and the person himself does not feel uncomfortable in the workplace.

In another situation, it may turn out that a person does not like his work in principle. At the stage of the interview and internship, everything seemed interesting, but now a person does not want to work like that. Here, most likely, it would be more competent to dismiss such an employee.

With the help of a time tracker, you can see when employees are doing personal business during working hours. It happens that people watch videos on YouTube, stream and even play games. As a rule, companies also say goodbye to such people.

FRD also allows you to track when an employee simply starts working less than usual: does not fulfill the daily norm, does not cope with typical tasks. If during the conversation it turns out that he has objective reasons for delay, for example, a relative is ill or his wife will give birth soon, then it may make sense to offer him to go on vacation. Thus, it is possible to replace the lagging employee on the project in time and not disrupt the deadline.

When problems are not solved by conversations or vacations, but the staff is really valuable for the company, then you can offer him to switch to project work, where payment will be charged for the result or by the hour. In optimizing working time, there are always solutions that FRD helps to find.

How to properly implement FRD in your business

If we are not talking about an automated PFD, then the process is as follows: during the entire working day or only for the duration of a specific task, an observer is attached to the employee, who records the actions of the observed in a special form. Recording can be per minute, every 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc., as determined by the manual. The forms are then analyzed and a final report is prepared.

Monitoring an employee does not require any special training: the company’s management can simply instruct those personnel who will be involved in the FRD. Also, you do not have to make changes to the company’s charter or employment contract. It is only important to notify the employee in writing that the FRD will be conducted, under his signature.

In general, the introduction of a photograph of a working day into business processes takes place in three stages. We will analyze them in more detail.

Step One: Determine the Purpose of Observation

First of all, the company must understand why it is implementing the FDD and what will then be done with the results. If you, as a leader, only want to control your employees, motivate them to work more productively in this way, then the FRD will not work.

A photograph of a working day will be useful in order to get certain data of a moment or process. These data cannot be gleaned from a report or somehow calculated on paper, they can only be seen. With the help of the FRD, you get material for analysis, and do not install surveillance on your employees.

With the help of FRD, monitoring is not carried out on a specific person, but on a process. This is necessary to understand the specifics of some work in the company. Here are some examples of purposes for which it is advisable to introduce FRD:

  • identification of useless activities due to which a person’s working time is wasted;
  • assessment of labor efficiency in general;
  • development of labor standards in production;
  • determining the structure of working time for a group of interrelated employees (for example, on a production line for car parts);
  • collecting data to understand why employees do a good job, what motivates them.

How does the purpose of the FRD affect the economy of business resources

We already wrote that FRD is a costly method. But if you set the goal correctly, you can reduce these costs. A well-set FRD goal allows you to determine how many employees you need to monitor: one, a team, a department, or maybe even all employees of the enterprise.

Let’s say you need to understand what, in principle, a representative of some profession does during the working day (for example, how does the day of a cook, maid or waiter go). In this case, it will be enough to observe 1-2 workers.

If you need to determine the productivity, workload of employees, to understand whether there is a shortage or excess in personnel in a certain department, then you will have to monitor the entire department, the production line, or even the entire company.

How long and when is the best time to observe?

FRD can be implemented even for 1-2 days – while the employee performs some particular type of work. If you want to understand how much time a buffet waiter spends preparing the hall for the next meal, then you do not need to watch him all day, you can only track the completion of this specific task.

In order to get the most correct results, it is better to implement the FDD when there are no checks, rush jobs, and not during the reporting period. So you can establish what your employees are doing on normal working days, and not during a crisis period. For example, you should not take a photo of the working day for an accountant when he is at the very epicenter of a tax audit.

Step Two: Prepare for Observation

In each company, preparation for the FRD will take place in its own way, which depends on the specifics of the business. We will look at this process using the example of Marina and her work in a hotel. Preparation for FRD goes through several stages:

  1. First of all, the manager prepares and signs the appropriate order to collect information with the help of the FRD. This document indicates the composition of the commission that will participate in the FRD, a list of employees to be monitored is written, a responsible person is appointed – a person who will collect the FRD cards, analyze them and write a general report. The order also sets the time frame for when the process will take place, and by what date the report must be submitted.

In Marina’s hotel, the commission usually includes a representative of the personnel department, the head of the department in which the observation will be carried out, and Marina herself as a responsible person who forms the report. All these people read the order and sign it.

  1. The second preparatory step is to select the FRD card form that the observer will fill out. The commission also meets and agrees on the dates of observation with the heads of departments and employees who will be monitored. As a rule, during this meeting, department heads themselves nominate candidates for FRD. Later, the agreed employees are informed about the upcoming observation under their signature.
  2. Next, one of the representatives of the commission should meet with the personnel who will be monitored and conduct an introductory conversation with them. You should tell employees what FRD is in order to prevent possible discomfort and negativity. It can be emphasized that the company is thus trying to identify shortcomings in the organization of work in order to help staff quickly and easily cope with their duties.
  3. After all approvals and fees, a meeting with observers and their training is held. We will talk about this below.

As you can see, this form of FRD is best done openly rather than covertly. It is better that employees always know on what day observers will come to them and what they will do. This is an important stage of preparation, because everything depends on how naturally the observed can behave.

Step Three: Train Observers

It would seem that there is nothing complicated in the process of observing and keeping records. But in practice, it turns out that a preliminary training briefing of observers is necessary. At the agreed time, he must come to the location and minute by minute record all the actions of the employee or employees in the form issued to him.

Usually an observer does a PDD for one employee, but it is possible to follow a group of workers (for example, one person can follow a team of painters and plasterers). Then he should record the actions of the entire group, and not its individual members.

There are three important points in the work of an observer:

  1. It is impossible to interfere with the observed, literally get under his feet, trying to see and write everything down. If something needs to be clarified, it is important that the observer be ethical. Let’s say the waiter serves the table, runs between the kitchen and the guests. It would be inappropriate to stop him halfway to ask questions. You need to wait until the hype subsides, and then find out everything that is needed.
  2. You cannot tell an employee how to work and how to rest during a break. For example, it is unacceptable to ask an employee to adjust their break to match the observer’s break or to call him ahead of time.
  3. In no case should you conduct abstract conversations with the observed. You can not discuss with him the authorities, ask about the family or discuss other personal topics. The observer must be practically invisible. Otherwise, the collection of information about the working day cannot be considered objective.

At the very beginning of the FRD process, the observer can communicate with the employee in order to defuse the situation. You need to be aware of the situation. If this is a novelty for an employee, then one should skillfully relieve tension, tell that no one is digging under it and this is not impudent surveillance of the employee.

Some features of the formation and training of the commission of observers

If this is not the first time the FRD has been held in the company, and the members of the current commission have already performed similar functions of observers before, then you will only need to indicate to them the purpose of the observation.

Let’s say you want to know how much time it takes to maintain office equipment, how many rooms a cleaning lady manages to clean in a day, or how much time a waiter takes for breaks. This is enough for an experienced observer to understand what exactly needs to be paid attention to in the framework of the FRD.

If the members of the commission of observers are newcomers who have never been involved in FRD, then they first need to be trained. Experienced leaders do not recommend giving too detailed briefings and “chewing” the purpose of the FRD to such observers. General wording should be used so as not to burden a person and leave him freedom to maneuver.

Let’s assume that the purpose of the FRD is to find out how much time a cook spends on breaks per shift. An inexperienced observer can enter into the form literally every second, even when the cook looked out the window, yawned or stretched his neck. At the same time, he will briefly describe other information, for example, he cuts potatoes, writes, looks at the calculation.

The result is a bad report. Most likely it will be too voluminous, and there will be a minimum of useful information in it. It will be difficult for the person in charge to process it and make a constructive analysis.

How to fill out the FRD card

Completing the FRD form can be considered as a stage of equal importance after the formation of the commission and the training of observers. And that’s why. For example, you want to collect information about breaks. But information about other activities of the employee is also important. If the question arises in the future about how much time a chef spends preparing breakfasts, then it would be possible to go back to the old report and study it, rather than assembling a new team of observers.

That is why the technique of filling out the FRD forms is important. The management must convey to the observer how to correctly record certain actions of workers, explain when to write notes at the end of the observation, and how to correctly form a report.

Today you can find standardized forms for the FRD and remake them to fit your needs. As a rule, the card should contain the following information:

  • the date the observation was made;
  • the name of the observer and his signature;
  • the name of the observed and his position;
  • signature of the responsible person who accepts the reports;
  • information about the actions that the employee performed during the shift.

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