Back to » Love the way you work.

Welcome to the oDesk Community! Connect here with fellow clients, contractors, and oDesk staff. Please review our Usage Policy.

Work Diary

What is a Work Diary?
The Work Diary is a window into your virtual office. Allowing the whole workteam to see who's working on what and when helps foster a collaborative and cooperative work environment - even when team members are spread around the globe.
The Work Diary is also the backbone of our hourly payment model (Verified Work = Guaranteed Payment). Contractors use the oDesk Team application to log their time on hourly contracts and upload it to their Work Diaries for review. Time logged on hourly contracts is automatically added to the Timelog and then billed on a weekly basis.
All team members can view each others' Work Diaries. If this is a problem, the employer should contact Customer Support to request changes to viewing privileges or separate the users into more Team Rooms.
How do I read a Work Diary?
The Work Diary is, by default, a grid of boxes arranged in hourly rows. Each box represents a 10-minute billing segment. When the user is logging time online, a screenshot and activity summary is uploaded to each segment. Users can also add offline time to represent work activity not captured by the oDesk Team application.
time block annotated screenshot
  1. Go to Manage & Work > Work Diary. Select the relevant team at the top left.
  2. Choose the appropriate user in the menu at the left side of the navigation bar.
  3. Select the date you want to view in the center of the navigation bar. Use the forward and backward arrows links to navigate one day at a time, click the calendar icon to find a specific date or use the today link to return to the present day view.
  4. Click on the screenshot to view the full-size image. Hover over the memo to see the full memo (if truncated). Hover over the activity meter to see the activity summary. Click on the activity meter to view the activity details.
work diary nav screenshot
time block annotated screenshot
User Controls:
  • You can only add, delete and edit time in your own Work Diaries.
  • Work Diaries are locked and therefore uneditable following the close of each work week. See the weekly schedule for details.
  • Manual changes to the Work Diary (including adding or removing time and editing memos or task codes) may take several hours to be reflected in your Timelog and other Reports.
  • Switch between Time Zones (UTC | Mine | User) using the dropdown menu. Opt to use 24 hour time format in Prefs.
Status Indicators (Colors):
  • Green dots () are billed, online time (guaranteed payment).
  • Yellow dots () are billed, offline time (not guaranteed payment).
  • Red dots () are unbilled, online time over the weekly limit.
  • Gray dots () are unbilled, offline time.
Activity Meter:
  • The stack of green blocks shows how many (out of 10) minutes had activity.
  • Activity is defined as a mouse click or a keyboard stroke.
  • The total number of mouse clicks and keystrokes per segment is recorded. We do not record what you clicked or typed. We do count the number of clicks and strokes. (Learn more about what the Team app does and does not record.)
  • Click on the meter for a more detailed view including the minute by minute click and keystroke activity counts. (Learn more about how oDesk converts Team app activity into billing segments.)
  • The displayed activity level is also used to create the activity meter seen in the Team Room.
How do I log online time?
Online time is logged with oDesk Team application. Whenever you're working on an hourly contract, just log in with oDesk Team application, select the correct Team (if you have more than one), and press Start to turn on the time tracker. It will automatically upload your time, memos, screenshots and activity record to the Work Diary. When you stop working, press Stop. It's that simple.
Review your Work Diary at least once per week (or better yet daily) to check all your time is appropriately logged and help avoid disputes. Use this review to clean up your memos, remove anything inappropriate, or add offline hours. Mondays at 12 noon UTC the Work Diary is locked and the Timelog is updated to reflect all billable hours, including any adjustments made during the contractor review period. The employer is invoiced based on this finalized Timelog.
Logging time online cannot be done on the website. Being in the Team Room or Work Diary does not track your time. You must run the oDesk Team app.
We strongly recommend you log all your time for hourly contracts with the oDesk Team application. Why? Because Verified Work = Guaranteed Payment.
How does oDesk convert time tracked with the oDesk Team app into 10-minute billing segments?
When the oDesk Team app's time tracker is active, it takes a snapshot 6 times per hour. Each time it takes a snapshot, the activity since the previous snapshot is uploaded. oDesk plugs the activity and the snapshots into the appropriate billing segments. It is important to understand that in almost every case, activity associated with a snapshot spans two billing segments.
All active () segments are billed each week. Because oDesk uses 10-minute billing segments, some rounding must occur.
Activity levels during a stretch of logged time will fluctuate depending on the task. Some tasks, such as reading and thinking will show low activity. If you see significant portions of the Work Diary with low activity, please discuss them with your contractor.
When a contractor deletes a snapshot in the Team app before uploading, it will also delete the activity associated with that snapshot. Which activity is that? The activity since the last snapshot was taken. This means the activity you delete could have been part of two separate billing segments if it had been allowed to upload to the Work Diary.
How do I remove time or a webcam pic?
Everyone is bound to need to remove some time from their Work Diary at some point. You may have forgotten to log out of the oDesk Team application, had a personal chat pop up during work or realized you spent way too much time on research. Whatever the reason, it's important to clean up your Work Diary as soon as possible to remove any inappropriate or mistakenly-logged time.
When a contractor deletes a green () billing segment in the Work Diary, it will also delete the all activity associated with that billing segment's snapshot. Which activity is that? The activity since the last snapshot was taken. This means activity is usually removed from two separate billing segments. The deleted segment's status indicator will change to gray ().
work diary buttons screenshot  remove time screenshot
  1. Go to Manage & Work > Work Diary. Select the relevant team at the top left and yourself in the user menu at the left side of the navigation bar.
  2. Select the date you want to view in the center of the navigation bar. You can only remove time from the current work week.
  3. Check the box at the right bottom corner of the time segment. You can select a whole hour at a time by checking the box under the hour in the far left column.
  4. Press the Delete button in the top right.
  5. A box will pop up to ask if you're sure. You may choose to delete all information or webcam photos only. Removing webcam photos will not affect your activity level or time billed. When all information is removed, the segment's status indicator will change to gray ().
  6. Press the Delete button. This cannot be undone.
We suggest reviewing your Work Diaries daily, but do it weekly at the very least. Reviewing all your Work Diaries as soon as you finish logging hours for the week is a good habit to get into. Whatever your routine, a clean Work Diary is essential to avoid disputes.
Frequent Work Diary reviews are especially important if you enabled your webcams in the Team app. You may delete these webcam pics in the Work Diary. Deleting a webcam pic does not affect the segment's activity level or billing status.
At the end of the work week, contractors have a few hours to make any final changes. Mondays at 12 noon UTC the Work Diary is locked and the Timelog is updated to reflect all billable hours, including any adjustments made during the contractor review period. The employer is invoiced based on this finalized Timelog. After that you'll need to submit a refund instead of removing the time. So make sure you check your Work Diaries every week before they're locked!
If a contractor deletes a snapshot that was associated with all of the activity in the previous segment as well, both segments will change from green () to gray (). This generally occurs if the contractor logged in during segment prior to the one selected for deletion.
How do I add offline time?
Any user may add offline time to their own Work Diary during the current work week. However, if you must add offline time to your Work Diary, please speak to your employer first because offline time is not guaranteed payment.
work diary buttons screenshot  add offline time screenshot
  1. Go to Manage & Work > Work Diary. Select the relevant team at the top left and yourself in the user menu at the left side of the navigation bar. If you have multiple contracts, be sure you add time to the correct team.
  2. Select the date you want to view in the center of the navigation bar. You can only add time to the current work week. Check the Time Zone (Mine or UTC) below the navigation bar to be certain you're looking at the correct day. If you're traveling, you may need to change your Time Zone in your User Info first.
  3. Press the Add offline time button at the top right above the navigation bar.
  4. Choose the from and to times in your own Time Zone.
  5. Enter a descriptive Memo or select an Assigned Task.
  6. Press the Save button. You can edit time you've added until the Work Diary is locked each week. Adding offline time cannot overwrite online activity previously logged with the oDesk Team app, but will change existing billing segments' memos.
We strongly recommend you keep your offline time to a minimum. Why? Because offline time isn't verifiable and therefore isn't guaranteed. Disputes of offline hours will be ruled in the employer's favor.
Offline hours may be appropriate for work such as phone calls, non-electronic research, paper-based sketching, large file transfers, graphics rendering or other activities that aren't done on a computer or would appear as idle. Getting permission prior to adding offline hours is highly recommended to avoid disputes.
How do I pay for time?
Hourly contracts offer automated weekly billing. Each week, all time in the Work Diary (up to your specified weekly limit) is invoiced. You are given several days to review the Work Diary, talk with your contractor about refunding any inappropriate time and file a dispute (if necessary). At the end of the review period, your verified payment method will be charged.
On hourly contracts, you may submit payments in addition to your weekly invoice. Employers do this to compensate the contractor for time worked over the weekly limit, give a performance bonus, etc.
Fixed-price contracts are not billed automatically. Your contractor has the option to log time in the Work Diary, but it won't be used for billing purposes. You'll need to submit milestone and final payments as appropriate.
I found time in the Work Diary when the contractor isn't working. How do I dispute the time?
You may occasionally see time in the Work Diary when contractors aren't working. It's generally an accident (forgot the log off, a personal message popped up, etc.) and they have until a few hours after the work week ends to remove it. So if you notice this during the week, please just send a quick reminder to the contractor to clean up the Work Diary.
Once the work week ends, the review period begins. If you see any inappropriate time in the Work Diary at this point, the first step is to contact your contractor. Point out the time in question and request the contractor submit a refund. A refund of pending time submitted during the review period will prevent you from being charged for that time.
If you've contacted your contractor but they will not refund the inappropriate time or do not respond, please file a dispute during the review period. Any disputes about time that does not qualify for the oDesk payment guarantee will be resolved in favor of the employer. (Read more about filing a dispute.)
Time that does qualify for our guarantee will not be removed during a dispute. The employer is paying for the contractor's time, not a particular deliverable. Managing the quality of the work is the employer's responsibility.
Can my colleagues track their time with the Work Diary too?
Yes! Every team member has a Work Diary. So invite your colleagues to join your team. You can use the Work Diary to record your time whether you're on contract, a manager, an admin or just a colleague.
However, only billed time is included in reports. To take advantage of our reporting capabilities, you'll need to hire and pay your team members for hourly contracts on oDesk.