The Drawbacks of Monitoring Employees in the Era of Remote Work

Americans are becoming more concerned about the protection of their personal information and perceive data collecting as having more hazards than benefits, which is fueling disapproval of digital employee monitoring software. So, are businesses utilising technology excessively, or is this a trend that will normalise remote work once the epidemic is over? Do these surveillance tools promote a culture of mistrust or do they present a fresh method for tracking production and keeping an eye on employees? Let’s investigate.

What the Heck Is the Big Deal?

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered thousands of businesses’ operations. Businesses were compelled to adopt full-scale working from home, which raised a number of issues, such as how to track employees remotely. Google Trends reports that in the United States, the average search popularity score for the term “employee tracking” climbed by 18% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Software for employee monitoring or surveillance equipment?

Innocuous terms like “automated employee screenshot monitoring software,” “workplace analytics software,” and “activity tracking software” are frequently used to describe this programme. It is typically placed on a computer or smartphone, and it has access to the device’s data and can monitor its operations. Let’s look at the most used components in this category of software.

Following is a summary of the features of 26 well-known employee monitoring tools, arranged by how frequently they were used during our research.

Let’s go over the main characteristics in more depth.

Monitoring with Software

Software monitoring, which is present in 25 out of 26 activity tracking technologies, typically consists of screenshot capture, app activity tracking, mouse clicks, and keystroke logging. These statistics are used by the majority of these employee monitoring software to determine each user’s productivity score. 

Internet and Screen Monitoring

The second most common function that 88% of employee activity tracking software provides is screen and internet monitoring. They often involve automatic screenshots captured at random or predetermined periods of time, as well as URL and document title tracking.

The situation with screenshot management that resembles the 2018 uproar over Upwork surveillance practises is probably the most unfair : when employees delete their screenshots, the programme removes the time from their timeline even if they deleted a screenshot of a personal email.

Keystroke logging

Any keystrokes made in programmes, online browsers, chats, and emails can be recorded through a method called keylogging. Keylogging is regarded as dangerous when used alone since it saves passwords and other sensitive data that could give hackers access to private accounts and confidential data. Keystroke logging is a feature of activity tracking systems that can be used for a variety of privacy-invading purposes, such as capturing employee instant messaging or calculating productivity scores.

Time Monitoring

The majority of employee tracking systems provide automatic time tracking, which means that the programme keeps track of employees’ arrival and departure times, desk time, idle time, and time spent on apps, emails, and social media and shares that information with the management.

For instance, DeskTrack calculates employee productivity based on the kind of apps employees use and URLs they visit by analysing time tracking data. In other words, according to these systems for tracking employees’ performance, effective employees spend time utilising “productive” apps, clicking the mouse, and typing continuously; otherwise, they are ineffective.

Monitoring for IM and Email

Our analysis shows that 65% of the technologies offer email and instant message surveillance, which means that they engage in keyboard logging or OCR procedures to record private chats. For instance, the instant messaging recording capabilities of the Work Examiner software enable it to capture discussions between employees via Facebook, Skype, MSN, and other messengers. Additionally, Teramind enables managers to create alerts based on words that were recorded during personal interactions.

Employee Tracking

Visible and Invisible The majority of well-liked employee monitoring solutions take a transparent approach to activity tracking: they let employees know that their actions are being tracked, send notifications, performance reports, and grant them access to a constrained number of software settings.

However, a lot of less well-known activity tracking programmes offer covert installation and monitoring tools that record every employee click without that employee’s knowledge or approval. For instance, iMonitorSoft takes pride on its covert mode, which uses no pop-ups, notifications, shortcuts, or other traces on the PC of the employee.

Should Employers Watch Over Their Staff Members?

Employers are using activity tracking solutions to make sure that their workers are working productively from home in light of the global shift to home offices. The findings of our Twitter poll showed that, while just roughly 2 out of 10 respondents had never used employee tracking software before, the majority of respondents had an unfavourable opinion of it.

We also requested further information regarding our audience’s experiences using employee tracking tools on other social media platforms. We offer comments from employers and employees on this type of software below.

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