Ever since it became a widespread business trend, computer tracking software has witnessed just about any kind of reaction. As a business owner or an executive, if you decide to buy an employee monitoring software such as Insightful, you’ll get a lot of benefits - data on everyone’s performance, increased control over files and assets as well as informed data-driven ideas on how you can optimize your business processes.
On the other hand, though, implementation of a monitoring system isn’t exactly going to be your employees’ favorite work policy. Instead of a totem for business and performance improvement, they’re much more likely to see it as computer bugging software whose only task is to spy program computer activities for no apparent reason.
So what happens when you try to implement this software without telling your employees about it? Well, considering its increasing popularity and the fact that at least some of your employees are going to have suspicions, the question is bound to arise either way: Does my boss monitor my computer activity?
And where there is curiosity, there’s also the resolution to get to the bottom of it. In other words, your workers might as well try to find out whether you spy employee monitor screens or track their activities. But can they actually do it?
Before we answer this question, let’s turn quickly to the law and ethics in an attempt to discover whether you can even monitor your employees without their knowledge in the first place.
Legality and Ethics of Undisclosed Employee Monitoring
The question of whether this form of employee control is legal has long been resolved in favor of the affirmative answer. But although the legality of monitoring employees in the workplace is an open and shut case, the law is much more complex, protective of employees and different across countries when it comes to doing it secretly.
In fact, some countries make it mandatory to notify employees about monitoring while in others you even have to ask for consent. But even if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to operate in one of the countries that allow you to practically spy on computer remotely, there’s still the issue of ethics looming just around the corner.
We’ll discuss the issue of right or wrong a bit later, but for now it will suffice to ask yourself this question: If I were an employee, would I like to know whether my employers track my computer activity? If the answer is yes, let’s see how you could go about finding that out.
How to Detect Employee Monitoring Software and Can Your Employees Do It?
Regardless of how advanced technology is nowadays, no computer program is almighty (yet). So even if you decide to use a stealth monitoring software, its activity will still be visible on every computer it’s running on.
Of course, it will be far from super obvious like an open window or an active and visible widget. It’s more along the lines of being one of the running processes or having to be white-listed in antivirus programs and firewalls. In both of these cases, they’ll be one of many other processes and they won’t have a transparent name (like ‘Insightful’ or ‘monitoring software’) but an employee would have to google for the decryption of whatever they find.
Having said this, it’s blatantly obvious that, in order to know how to check for monitoring software on a computer, your employees will need a lot more technical know-how that most average people. And also quite a bit of patience.
So, the final answer is - yes, a sufficiently competent employee could in theory discover even the best computer spy software if they put their mind (and a bit of time) to it.
And now it’s time to circle back to ethics.
Why They Shouldn’t Have to Bother
The general advice is - even if you’re confident that none of your employees are capable of discovering the software, and you know that, even if they were, there’s no such thing as ‘anti monitoring software’, you still shouldn’t make them try. In other words, although there might be some pros and cons of using the stealth mode, you should always consider telling your employees about monitoring first.
This open and straightforward attitude promotes transparency and builds a better relationship with your employees in the long run. Sure, you might get a slight backlash at first, but explaining what you’ll be monitoring and why, as well as answering their questions and listening to their concerns, will ultimately result in acceptance and respect for the fact that you had the decency to inform them when you didn’t legally need to.
The borderline is - keeping your employees’ trust deserves more priority for concern than whether or not they can discover your stealthy monitoring software. The benefits and improvements resulting from using the software will come anyway, but the company culture is what you should be striving to protect when you’re faced with the decision on how to implement employee monitoring software.