Enhancements to Passive Time Classification


Changes to passive time classification

If you’ve been using ActivTrak, you’re likely used to seeing reports that include small and large gaps in time marked in the color yellow as “Passive Time”.   We’ve received (and listened to!) three types of feedback about the overall “Time” user experience and are introducing changes to address each as mentioned below.

Very Long Passive Time Blocks



The problem with the classification of passive time above is that by default, our agent collects and classifies time when the computer is awake and the user logged in but with no activity as “Passive Time”. The example above is almost certainly a situation where the employee/company didn’t have a corporate “logout when idle” security policy applied (Windows defaults to 15 minutes, Mac defaults to 60 minutes), which resulted in approximately 9 hours of “Passive Time”.


As of January 20th, with the most recent agents, we’re rolling out a new default setting and configuration option that we believe will fix this problem. By default, we’ll stop collecting data after 5 minutes of inactivity, regardless of the user being logged in or not, which in the above example, would change the view to look like this:





You can change the configuration for this in Settings → Account Configuration in this dialog:

You can set this setting to 0 (zero) if you want to completely exclude passive time from being captured.


“Productive” time blocks currently marked as “Passive” that are potentially meeting, training, or voice calls




The second problem that we heard from customers about was the frequent “Passive Time” blocks like in the above timeline example which may have been the employee stepping away to grab a snack, having a cell phone conversation, or just as likely could have been them joining a video meeting, a non-interactive web-based training session, or a computer-based voice call, all of which appear to be “Passive” activities but are what we most employers would consider “Productive” time. 

Again, as of January 20th, with the most recent agent, we’re rolling out three new classifications of “Passive Time”, in conjunction with the above new configuration options, that we believe more accurately reflect the reality of remote work and time on video and voice applications that don’t require keyboard and mouse interactivity.  These new classifications are approximations of what we think the employee is doing at a point in time and are based on what the employee was doing just prior to not interacting with their computer with a keyboard or mouse.  

In the above example, assuming the employee was on a computer voice call or a video meeting in most of those Passive time blocks, the timeline might look more like this:



with the light green block indicating that the employee is now “Passive” but just previously was Productive, and as such, marked as “Passive Productive”.


Changing the above mentioned configuration in Settings → Configuration to a value of “zero”  will eliminate the collection of “Passive Productive” (and the related “Passive Unproductive” and “Passive Undefined”) time blocks.


Accessibility and Meaning of Colors



Last, we’ve received and internalized two types of feedback from our customers about the color scheme associated with the overall time classification user experience.  First, our stoplight, green, yellow, and red colors read as success, warning, danger. This is a problem because a short amount of yellow passive time or red unproductive time is not a cause for alarm. A short amount of passive or unproductive time is normal throughout the workday because employees naturally take breaks when interacting with their computers. Likewise, taking a short break on an unproductive task means they can come back to their productive tasks with a fresh look and start to focus again.  


Second, the colors of red and green were problematic for those with visual disabilities and the color values made it hard to distinguish between the two.   Red and green color blindness is the most common blindness and those users simply could not tell the difference between productive and unproductive time.



The table below provides an overview of the updated colors - what they represent, what they mean, and where you will find them throughout the ActivTrak application.


This classified passive data is available using the latest agent versions (MacAgent 8.1.4 and WinAgents 8.1.12) and will appear throughout the app once this feature is released. We plan on releasing this the week of Jan 18, 2021. Any passive data collected with previous agent versions and prior to this release will be shown as Undefined passive. 

What’s the impact on you and your team?

These changes may impact other reports and the overall user experience, in the following ways:

  • The new default configuration setting for Passive Time collection will almost certainly reduce the amount of Passive time that you’ve been used to seeing in the application. If the user stops interacting with their computer for more than 5 minutes, they will appear as 
  • Productive, unproductive, & undefined time is higher because they now contain active and passive time. This is evident within The snapshots of the Top Users and Groups as well as Productivity graphs on the dashboard. These graphs have been simplified and will reflect the new color schema including both active and passive time rolled into their activity categories of Productive, Unproductive, and Undefined.  Drilling down into the reports and the new Detailed Views will provide the extra layer of detail into each of these areas. 
  • The productivity ratios will be higher in Summary Views due to the lower passive time and higher productive time. You can see the legacy productivity ratios within the Detailed View of the Top Users report or by switching Team Pulse to ‘Use Active Time’

The new enhancements include: 


1. The Dashboard and Reports now include the context of passive time.

Within the app, you can see details around passive time by using the new ‘detailed view’ on reports, so they no longer have to dig through activity logs to view passive context.   


The Dashboard view: A better summary of Productive, Unproductive & Undefined Time

The snapshots of the Top Users and Groups as well as Productivity graphs on the dashboard have been simplified and will reflect the new color schema including both active and passive time rolled into their activity categories of Productive, Unproductive, and Undefined. Green and purple now represent productive and unproductive time, respectively. Undefined remains unchanged as gray. Drilling down into the reports will provide the extra layer of detail into each of these areas.  

Legacy color graph:


New color graph:


Top Users & Groups Report: More detailed reporting on Productive / Unproductive Time

Drilling down into the reports, the Top Users & Groups report has been updated and simplified to both reflect the new color schema and to provide an easier means to see both a summary view and a detailed view either by individual Users or by Groups. 

Summary view: 



Detailed view: 


Productivity Report: More descriptive Productive activity detail by day

On the Single day Productivity Report, you will see the new color schema utilized here with the activities broken out by the descriptors. 



Working Hours Report: More descriptive & granular filtering

More descriptive & granular filtering

The Working Hours Report has the new color schema and lets you select the additional detail columns to display for more granularity in your reporting.




Activity Log: More granular filtering for detailed activity

From the Activity Log, you will notice an additional level of detail descriptors are available for selection filtering in the display.



4. Passive time recording windows are now configurable.

Admins now have the ability to define when passive time starts and stops recording. We now default to stopping passive time after 10 minutes per episode. 

  • Passive time recording continues to default to 2 minutes, but users can now adjust it to start anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes.
  • Passive time now defaults to stop after 10 minutes, but users can adjust it to stop from 5 to 60 minutes or choose to keep recording indefinitely or until the computer goes to sleep, is locked, or turned off.  (10 minutes was selected after analyzing thousands of users' activity patterns and finding that 95% of passive time episodes are 10 minutes or less in duration). 

These new defaults went into effect on Jan 20, 2021. 

To update the configuration settings for passive time, simply visit  Settings > Account Configuration > Passive Time Settings. 


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