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Digital time recording – advantages and functions

Traditional time clocks at the entrance to the company premises have already been replaced by digital systems for recording working time in many companies. This ensures that employees’ working times are recorded correctly and reduces the cost and effort involved in evaluating time cards. The following article shows you how digital time recording is used in practice today.

How does modern, digital time recording work?

The best way to record working time is digitally. This is very easy with a special time recording app. The practical thing about it is that you can not only document your working hours, but also record vacation days and breaks. Time recording can cover entire working days or be documented individually for specific projects.

The data entered is not only used by payroll accounting to document your hours correctly, but also provides a good reference point for planning projects. This makes it possible to estimate how many working hours can realistically be planned for certain activities and projects. Digital time recording systems are therefore a useful tool for preparing quotations and invoices for customers.

Is there an obligation to record time?

Companies have only been legally obliged to record time since the European Court of Justice ruled in 2019 that working hours must be recorded. However, it is still up to the companies themselves to decide how this is done.

Small companies often give their employees a total number of hours per month or per week. However, the hours are not recorded individually, but are compensated with a fixed salary. The employees are generally present during fixed working hours. To reduce overtime, working hours are often reduced when there is little to do.

Large companies often provide their employees with a specific time recording tool via the intranet in order to better plan and evaluate projects. Time recording is even more flexible for companies that use a tool with a mobile app.

Here, employees can flexibly document every working hour and overtime as well as all breaks from any location – after all, the smartphone is a constant companion for many people today. Vacation days can be easily submitted here via app. Depending on the range of functions, it is also possible to view the shift planning.

Digital time recording – advantages and disadvantages

Digital time recording offers many advantages, but also some disadvantages.

One advantage, for example, is the ability to easily document and evaluate working times. At the end of the month, payroll accounting can see at a glance how many hours and overtime have been worked, whether employees were sick or whether vacation days are still open. This makes payroll accounting more efficient, as not all applications (such as for leave) have to be submitted on paper.

Project planning also benefits from digital time recording. Costs for new projects can be estimated more realistically based on the time documentation of older orders and used to prepare quotations. At the end of the project, the working hours can be calculated even more accurately. Digital time recording systems are also helpful for flexible shift planning and vacation time planning.

One of the disadvantages is the effort required to install the time recording systems. Special software or an app and the corresponding end devices are required. If you want to use digital time recording free of charge, you will unfortunately not find what you are looking for. It is also necessary to train employees depending on the complexity. Some employees also feel that they are being monitored by their employer or colleagues if they enter all their times into the system in detail.


  • Enter and evaluate flexible working times
  • Enables precise project planning
  • facilitates the billing of hours
  • Ideal for vacation and shift planning
  • Saves trips and paper (e.g. for vacation requests)


  • Feeling of surveillance
  • Costs for time recording tool / app
  • Training necessary
  • Modern, mobile end devices required

Time recording apps – range of functions varies

An employee time recording app is practical and, depending on the version, has very different functions. From time recording software for small businesses to applications for large companies, everything is included here.

The following functions are possible, but are not available in every app or may not be necessary depending on the size of the company and working models:

  • Recording of hours worked
  • Project-related time recording
  • Documentation of breaks
  • Planning your vacation days
  • Creation of shift schedules (only in companies with shift work)
  • GPS tracking (for employee monitoring)

Examples of time recording apps

There are no free apps for digital time recording. Instead, there are various software systems that also include a time recording app for mobile data entry. For a quick overview, we have put together three selected software programs with an app for you that are used in practice.


Crewmeister is a time recording tool with which all employees can conveniently enter their working hours. This time recording app even works offline. It is possible to set fixed breaks or to enter individual break times. Working times can also be monitored via GPS location tracking.

The price for Crewmeister depends on the number of employees and the scope of the functions used. Pure time recording is available for as little as 10 euros per month, while more functions such as vacation planner and shift planner cost extra.


The time recording tool Papershift is also suitable for digital time recording. Many useful features are available here. The time recording app works on a tablet or smartphone. After logging in, employees can enter their working times in their home office, at work or on the move. Three packages are available for between six and ten euros per employee per month.


This time recording app is especially suitable for small and medium-sized companies. This not only includes time recording, but also the option of creating customer and project data. This means that working times are recorded precisely for each project. The costs for the time recording tool are between four and twelve euros per user per month.

A well-functioning synchronisation between the app and desktop application is important so that your team or boss always has a realistic overview of all working times and other entries.


There are many options for flexible, digital time recording. It's best to opt for software with an app that suits the size of your company and offers all the necessary functions. Time recording software for small companies usually requires fewer functions than software for large companies in which a large number of employees manage their vacation, shifts, breaks and working hours.

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