Hourglass
Time tracking for freelancers and remote workers.
Made for fun with Figma & Principle.
Problem & Opportunities
How the desire for transparency turns into a wellness need?
Transparency when tracking hours of freelancers and remote employees is not a given in most processes. The trust between a company and these select group of people is built upon experiences that are unique to the individual's competencies.

How might we introduce one system that measures competency fairly while removing the need for trust in the intial engagement?

But wait, there's a catch...

Freelancers and remote employees tend to overwork due to being in an isolated environment. It is not uncommon for remote workers to over-commit to projects and suffer occasional burnouts, thus affecting their overall efficiency.

How might we enable remote-work wellness online?

Research summary

Tools, correlations and using internet browsers.
The tools of a remote worker and a non-remote worker are the same or very similar. When both personas settle down in their workspaces and switch on their latops, the following applications or websites are one of the first they check:

👌 Slack
👌 E-mail
👌 Jira

The Correlation: The Internet

No matter where you work, you'll likely to be using the internet and a internet browser in your daily workflow. This project was initially a feature suggestion for Slack, but from behavioural analysis it is safe to conclude that we should not delegate the management of time on a communication app, but rather on our browsers.

How often do we download plugins to assist us?

From a Quora answer from 2011, about 33%~85% of internet users installed at least one plugin on their preferred browsers. From 2014, health and wellness companies started developing applications to encourage productivity and mindfulness at work. We can merge these two sparse insights to do two things: develop our solution and solve app-fatigue.

Userflow

Condition / State

Time till next stage

Process

Details

Flow Segmentation

Alert, Fresh
10 mins
Morning Check-in
Re-aligning with tasks and arranging of to-dos for the day.
Identified flow #1
Concentrating, Focused
3 hrs
Work
Carrying out tasks and work responsibilities.
Identified flow #2
Invigorating, Nourishment
45 mins
Lunch
Break

Flow break
Productive
4 hrs
Work
Continuing of tasks for the remaining hours.
Identified flow #2
Fatigue, Misrecollection
-
Out of office
Summarising of hours for invoices, inaccurate man hours tracked.
Identified impact

Userflow analysis

This userflow is perfect, too perfect.
In this diagram, a typical day of work for a freelancer / remote worker is very similar to an office employee. The difference that sets them apart is the need for discipline to track their hours.

This is the best case scenario for freelancers and remote workers. In reality, more breaks between the work hours is to be expected due to personal circumstances.

A more humane approach

Most organisations would focus on a task-based track, calculating how much time is required for employees to complete tasks.

However the goal of this project is to promote wellness for individuals working remote, regardless of initial efficiency.

Everyone has a right to manage their performance and their time. However, before one can manage, one has to be aware.

A browser plugin that tracks and provides data on online activity will bring more awareness to the user about their performance, and enable them to make better decisions in their time management.

An animation of the onboarding on the Hourglass plugin.
Upon the first engagement on Hourglass, users will simply set their working hours and list down non-work websites. The settings can be changed anytime. The plug-in runs in the background and only prompts the user when needed, providing distraction-free reminders and hands-off assistance.
Hourglass notifications that will remind users to check-in and take breaks.

Prompts

Hourglass prompts users only to start their day and to take needed breaks.

Reports

Reports are generated based on the data provided. It is categorised into daily, weekly and monthly reports.

Expanding report data

There may be an opportunity to provide more insight by comparing data between multiple individuals. However, for the sake of privacy and simplicity, this feature is not explored for this project.

Reflections

Though Hourglass is a short weekend project, I enjoyed being able to quickly think through a solution for a design thinking problem.

It is a luxury to be able to explore solutions freely, and I take advantage of fun case studies to stress test my research and prototyping skills.

Should I have more time, I would love to spend it on researching the behaviours and common practices of freelancers and remote workers. It's a fascinating career choice, and I'm sure there's plenty of opportunity where we can help achieve good workplace practices for such individuals.

I would also love to explore how organisations manage remote workers and how they can scale remote teams more efficiently through various means. This can lead to a full ecosystem design surrounding remote teams, but for now a small web feature for individuals will have to do.
IntroductionResearch summaryUserflowSolutionReflection