How can I prove I'm on time?
May 14, 2008 10:39 AM   Subscribe

How can I prove to my supervisor that I'm arriving and leaving to and from work at my scheduled times?

At my current law firm, we're on the "honor system" when it comes to keeping track of the times we leave and arrive. Problem is, everyone's watch or computer clock is set to a different time - sometimes even a full ten minutes ahead. We (unfortunately) do not have Kronos or any other kind of time-tracking software - and I don't think the attorneys are interested in coughing up the extra dough to buy one.

So, what I need is:

1) Something that states the actual time, or something very close to it. I'm in southern California.

2) A way of proving that I arrived at so-and-so time, and left and such and such time.
posted by invisible ink to Work & Money (39 answers total)
 
Take a picture of a wall clock at the office that everyone can see?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:45 AM on May 14, 2008


1) The official US Time.

2) You are on the "honor system." The whole point of the "honor system" is that you are on your honor to arrive and leave on time. Why do you have to prove anything to your supervisor? If he would like you to clock in, it is incumbent upon him to come up with a system that is not the "honor system."
posted by dersins at 10:46 AM on May 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


Send emails? I think these are timestamped according to the server's time, rather than individual workstations.
posted by saukrates at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


This site is the official US time. Maybe do a screencap of this and email it?
posted by justnathan at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2008


Send him/her an email from your work address at your start time and your end time? I suppose you could spoof that, but I mean, really - as dersins said, it's not really the honor system if you're required to prove your whereabouts.
posted by boomchicka at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2008


...or what saukrates said.
posted by boomchicka at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2008


2(a) If you really feel it's necessary to clock in and out in some way, you could always send an "I'm here" email every morning when you arrive and an "I'm leaving" email every evening. The mail server should time-stamp each email with a very close approximation of the actual time.
posted by dersins at 10:50 AM on May 14, 2008


And to get around the "varying computer clock" issue, sync your computer and your boss' computer with the atomic time on a regular basis.
posted by boomchicka at 10:50 AM on May 14, 2008


It might be better if you stated the actual problem to be solved. Why does your supervisor need this proof, and why won't your supervisor tell you what kind of proof is needed?

1. Something that states the actual time, or something very close to it.

Um, that would be a good watch, which you will check against the radio every morning. You will then adjust your computer clock according to that watch when you arrive at work.

2) A way of proving that I arrived at so-and-so time, and left and such and such time.

E-mail your supervisor as you arrive and leave. In the e-mail, state the correct time according to said watch and state that you have set your computer clock to the correct time.

Freebie: Arrive >10 minutes early and leave>10 minutes late, if it's such an issue.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:53 AM on May 14, 2008


What everyone else said about email. Also, I would just suggest emailing yourself every morning when you get in and every afternoon when you leave. That way if anyone says "Hey, why weren't you here until after 9AM?" you can forward them that message to prove you were there at 8:58AM. No reason to clog up someone's mailbox even more with useless messages if there is no dispute.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:54 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Okay, I just sent myself a test message. The time on my computer when I sent it was 10:54 AM, but the actual received email says 10:50 AM. Does everyone else only see the 10:50 time stamp?
posted by invisible ink at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2008


People will only see the timestamp from the mail server (the 10:50AM, I presume). What kind of computer are you on? You should be able to set your computer's clock to sync with the "real" time automatically.
posted by dersins at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2008


I would take a picture of the clock in his office with you sitting in front of it every day. But then my wife tells me I'm just snarky.
posted by damiano99 at 11:03 AM on May 14, 2008


This seems strange. Do you and your boss work at the same location? If your boss has concerns about your arrival and departure times, why isn't s/he the one looking into how to track it? It's the supervisor's job to tell you what needs to be done in order for you to meet expectations. If someone is holding this accusation over your head when you're arriving on time and there's no tracking, they're not being reasonable and I don't think that a system you come up with yourself will solve the problem (though this may help you build your case that you're not being treated fairly).
posted by winston at 11:04 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you have a postage machine in the office, you can use it as a makeshift time clock. Set the meter to zero and run a small piece of paper through it.

Hope you can resist going to a punch clock system though, unless they are going to start paying you for every minute you go over...
posted by quarterframer at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2008


(adding that this mail meter suggestion may demonstrate your physical presence in the office at a certain time and date to a greater degree than and email or photo of a clock).
posted by quarterframer at 11:17 AM on May 14, 2008


you can use an online time tracking service... a quick google came up with this one: http://www.toggl.com/
posted by hummercash at 11:18 AM on May 14, 2008


You could call another number from your office number. It could be your own cell phone or another phone in the office. Anything that has caller id. That would display the number as well as the date and time.
posted by GlowWyrm at 11:24 AM on May 14, 2008


Response by poster: dersins- I'm running Windows XP Professional (2002 version).

I definitely agree with the sentiments that it's my supervisor's job to come up with a system. I intend to use all the recommendations here to establish a time-tracking system to prove myself - and show my supervisor how badly this office needs a more uniform, reliable system of keeping track of everyone's time.

Thank you everyone, please keep the suggestions coming!
posted by invisible ink at 11:30 AM on May 14, 2008


I would ask the supervisor what he/she wants you to do to show your start/leave times to them. He/she may not like two emails each day saying "Hi!" or "Bye!". Assuming you are not the only employee this supervisor is concerned about, that could clog up their inbox very quickly.

Another disadvantage of email is that if you can access it from outside the office, you may be questioned about if you are actually in the office when you say you are. Especially if you write your "good morning" email and leave your desk to go and get a coffee or use the washroom. Your supervisor could be looking for you and as soon as they get that email, they go to your desk and see that you're not there and get suspicious. Unless you make it incredibly obvious that you have just been there.

Perhaps a phone call from your phone extension as soon as you come in would prove that you are there and available. If he or she isn't at their desk, would a voicemail timestamp suffice? However, I wouldn't want to use this method before leaving each night since that could easily turn into "Before you go, could you do this really long, time-consuming task for me?"

If you don't work near their workspace, but are in the same building, could you just pop by and say hello/goodbye? That way he/she has seen your face and can look at the clock for him/herself. Maybe the clock in his/her office is incorrect and he/she doesn't realize it!
posted by melissa at 11:31 AM on May 14, 2008


How does your boss come to the conclusion that you are not arriving on time? Is he seeing you walk in and then looking at his desktop clock to verify? Is he seeing you log into an IM client and then verifying?

This bit of information is good to know, because it helps in the development of the communication strategy needed to get him off your back :P

Or you could both click:
Start/Run

And type:
w32tm /resync /rediscover

(you can also do this through the GUI, by double-clicking on your taskbar clock and setting up your time syncronization server..etc)
posted by samsara at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2008


if you log in/out of your work pc every day you can reference the security events in the event viewer for successful log on/log off since those will be timestamped locally, getting around the mail time stamp issue. If you authenticate through Active Directory there will be events there also but that might not be practical to check.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


zennoshinjou is correct. All he has to do is have your IT department audit your logins. A very simple way would be to make him local admin on your machine and let him view your event log. This can be done remotely easily.

Of course any computer based system can be exploited. If you have admin powers you could change your local clock or possibly edit the events themselves. Screenshots of atomic time are meaningless and easily forged in paint.net.

I think youre asking an impossible question. You want a provable time tracking system without investing in a proven solution.

Btw, I dont know how it works there, but what youre on is certainly NOT 'the honor system.'
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2008


A quick google search for "free time clock" turned up several results. This Mr. Kent time clock site seems incredibly simple - it took me about 30 seconds to sign up and do a test clock-in and clock-out. It generates a report of all activity that your boss could run as often as he pleased.
posted by boomchicka at 11:43 AM on May 14, 2008


Also an email isnt going to work because different clients display time differently. Outlook will tell you when it received the email, not when the email was time stamped on the server. Sure thats in the header somewhere, but does your boss understand concepts like server time or headers? Or even know how to view them? Heck, if sent via exchange to another client on exchange via MAPI there wont be any headers.

Other clients may display the server time translated to your local timezone.

Forging this is possible too.

What you guys need to do first if you are arguing about 5 minutes is get all those workstations synchronizing on an atomic clock ASAP. This is something for your IT department to do.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:46 AM on May 14, 2008


If you authenticate through Active Directory there will be events there also but that might not be practical to check

You wouldn't get to auth via AD if the clocks are that wrong -- AD Authentication is Kerberos, which expires tickets to prevent replay attacks.

One of the things that happens when you bind a machine to AD is that the time service starts and syncs to a domain controller, unless you tell it to explicitly sync somewhere else. The fact that all these clocks are wrong in different ways impiles that net time isn't working.

So: Maybe the answer is to get net time working? Of course, the OP isn't a sysadmin, why should they be doing that?
posted by eriko at 11:46 AM on May 14, 2008


I think you should consider that the message your boss is sending you isn't merely that you aren't providing sufficient documentation of your arrival and departure times.
posted by Lame_username at 12:02 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why do you have to show (your) supervisor how badly this office needs a more uniform, reliable system of keeping track of everyone's time?

You show up at 8:30. You leave at 5. And that's that. It's how things work in the real world. I work remotely and have no way to prove that I am on the job on time. Nobody cares, because they trust me. What they care about is whether or not I get the job done.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:03 PM on May 14, 2008


Some companies (though this is a more informal method) prefer you sign in and of a instant message system at designated times. My laptop also lets me check a box that says 'sychronize with Internet time'.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2008


I intend to use all the recommendations here to establish a time-tracking system to prove myself

But you still haven't said Word 1 about what kind of suspicions or accusations you're trying to disprove. If you would just state what actually has happened at your office, you would get focused answers.

Your claim about being on an "honor system" means that no proof is required, right? So why do you need help? Your alleged need for help is belied by your statement of the facts.

Seconding samsara, damn dirty ape, melissa and winston.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2008


I definitely agree with the sentiments that it's my supervisor's job to come up with a system. I intend to use all the recommendations here to establish a time-tracking system to prove myself - and show my supervisor how badly this office needs a more uniform, reliable system of keeping track of everyone's time.

Is there actually a need to prove yourself to your supervisor or are you just frustrated by how casual the system is. If it is the second, it may be more of a culture clash than a problem that the company is interested in fixing.

In my experience professionals like attorneys work so many more than 40 hours that there no concern that they are not doing the minimum. They have to track time for billing but all that matters is elapsed time, not actual time. Generally staff in an office of that type work on the honor system. Nobody is interested in tracking them to the minute. If you come in 10 minutes late you either take a short lunch or leave 10 minutes late. If someone is abusing the system, then the supervisor addresses the problem for that person. The one exception in some officies is that the front desk and phones need to be covered appropriately.

I could be completely wrong about this but I just have a vision of you coming into your supervisor's office, all excited with a long list of options for tracking people's times and making a bad impression because you are creating problems that don't exist and aren't worrying about the things that your boss worries about. If you want to prove yourself, you have to solve problems that matter to your boss. Plus or minus ten minutes probably isn't one of them.
posted by metahawk at 12:18 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


You show up at 8:30. You leave at 5. And that's that. It's how things work in the real world. I work remotely and have no way to prove that I am on the job on time. Nobody cares, because they trust me. What they care about is whether or not I get the job done.

BINGO.

Are clients being billed based on what times you're in the office? Is your boss concerned that you might miss client calls or e-mails in the 10 minutes you may be late? If the answer to those 2 questions is no, and your boss is still riding you about the time you come in and leave, then you've got a shitty, micro-manager boss.
posted by BobFrapples at 12:21 PM on May 14, 2008


Or, what metahawk said.
posted by BobFrapples at 12:22 PM on May 14, 2008


Write a script that'll send the "I'm here" and "I'm out of here" emails every day at the appropriate time +- 3 minutes (for extra authenticity). Have it include the words "IT IS NOW XX:XX AM/PM". That way, you'll always be on time regardless of whether you're on time or not.
posted by signal at 3:06 PM on May 14, 2008


Do you want to prove to your boss that you are coming and going on time, or to other co-workers? You mention that everyone's computer is set to a different time, not just your boss' computer, and I'm imagining a gossipy workplace where your coworker(s) constantly sees you coming in late or leaving early (based on their computer time), and telling your boss that you are always late/early.

No matter what the issue is, since the present time-keeping method is people looking at their watches or computer screen, maybe the most convenient and effective method would be to send out a weekly/monthly email stating the time and asking people to check their computer to make sure that it syncs up with the real time.

If everyone is on the same page (or time), that should solve the problem.
posted by necessitas at 4:45 PM on May 14, 2008


Buy this. Take a photo of your card everyday week, if your boss never comes in.

But I think I just don't get the question. It's probably a lawyer thing.
posted by ddaavviidd at 6:07 PM on May 14, 2008


So the way I see it there are two possible problems.

1 - You're not getting everything done that you're supposed to. This is an easy problem to fix in theory. Just do your work.

2 - The boss has decided that people need to be held accountable and is doing a bad job of changing over. You or somebody will need to convince him that there needs to be a system that can't be fixed.

There could be a camera set up at the door that records with a time stamp. No extra work for people coming in, and it could possible set up some more work for someone (or even another position for someone to be hired into) to write down when everyone arrives and leaves.

This wouldn't do anything about people who spend the first half hour of the day at the office coffee machine, but that's technically a different issue anyway.
posted by theichibun at 7:36 PM on May 14, 2008


if you only have to prove it a few times until your supervisor believes you, you may try taking a photo of the entrance to your work with your cell phone. the time the photo was taken will be recorded so you can prove that you were there on time.
posted by alitorbati at 8:47 PM on May 14, 2008


None of these 'prove' anything. Mail can be automated. Date stamps on digital photos can be changed. Somebody else can log you in. If these are good enough, so is looking at your watch and writing the time on a piece of paper with 'time sheet' written across the top.

If it's that important, they'll implement a robust system of controls. Good luck with that - they'll need speed turnstiles / gates to stop tailgating, access cards or biometrics, software, cameras, alert guards, and somebody to audit it all - even then, it's not foolproof.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:06 AM on May 15, 2008


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