An employer I'm interviewing for does this, I have never heard of anyone doing it before and honestly I don't like the idea of being micromanaged. How does the community feel about this?
It is very common in medium+ sized companies. Almost every company I have worked with does this. There are a multitude of reasons:
- billing external clients (self explanatory)
- billing internal clients. In some companies (like the one I'm in now), IT has to earn its own budget. It does this by cross-charging other divisions.
- cost tracking. It helps to know how much a product is costing.
- tax reasons. In Australia, a company can claim an R&D tax break based upon the money spent and the nature of the work. Obliviously, the tax department wont take your word for it.
- because other (non-IT) divisions have to do it, it may just be part of the way the company works.
Telling the company where your effort (and their dollars) has gone hardly counts are micro-management.
My company does it. We have time reporting for every employee from the receptionist (who also does job-specific project work) to everyone on the shop floor to the software and engineering departments. I dislike the tedium required for keeping accurate records, but I understand and support why it has to be done. If you wish to run a profitable company you have to have some reference for how much it costs you to do business. If you quote a job at $10K with a $100/hr burden and it takes you 200 hours to complete the job, then you are going to go out of business pretty darn quick.
Even if you're not required to do it, it's a good idea to do it anyway. Not down to the minute but down to the hour is good. Just write down at the end of every week roughly what you spent your time on. (I just look at my SVN logs and sent emails and it reminds me what I did.)
Why? In four months time someone is going to say to you "Who are you and what have you been spending your time on?". If your boss doesn't want to know then I would put a bet that your bosses boss will want to know. If your boss doesn't know what you're spending your time on, it also couldn't hurt to remind him/her occasionally.
I actually log all my work even though I'm not required, but not on an hourly basis.
I used to log hours in a response to justifying time spent on various proojects, there is no need for that now and presently I only log the tasks that I have completed or worked on throughout the day. This just helps me to keep track of when I worked on one of my hundreds of tasks and mean I can easily justify project time when pulled onto another project or give status reports to my manager.
In my day-to-day work logging the hours is only necessary when I work on a project that requires billing and is one of the reasons dave gives.