So, it stands to reason that the need to keep a close eye on employees has always been present, so it’s not just a passing trend. However, is it also a necessity in all companies?
Let’s examine the evidence.
How Were Employees Monitored in the Past?
The oldest way to keep an eye on the employees was to have a person do it. Call them manager, supervisor, or controller, their job was predominantly to make sure no one is slacking during working hours.
And while many would argue the human factor is precisely what ensures the most protection against malversation in the workplace, it’s also not the perfect software for spying on employees.
Not that that’s what it should be used for.
In more recent history, a way to ensure employee punctuality and regular attendance were punch cards. Employees would get a card to punch a hole in every time they came and left their place of work.
However, the system was obviously flawed as the response to it was buddy punching - where a colleague would punch a card for another person and help them cut corners whenever possible.
It’s proven an unsuitable employee monitoring solution for the modern working environment.
How Are Employees Monitored Today?
A report from 2018 stated that 94% of organizations deploy some monitoring system as opposed to only 47% in 2017.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the business world around the globe, all companies have been forced to move their operations online and find alternative ways of monitoring employee behavior. Therefore, these numbers have rocketed sky high in 2020.
In this new setting, it’s simply become impossible to have a human accurately monitor employees working from home - or another place different from the office. Moreover, with the increase in remote workers all over the world, it’s expected that the numbers keep rising in the foreseeable future as well.
Therefore, in order to ensure productivity, optimize workload, and ensure data integrity in the process, the need for a tool like Insightful has arisen to necessity, by all accounts.
Here are the ways employers can keep track of their workers in modern times.
Employee Attendance Tracking
The time tracking feature is the basis of all modern monitoring tools and allows the employer to see when their staff starts and finishes working. In a way, it’s a sophisticated virtual card punching system where the employee checks in and out, while the program measures how much time has passed in between.
While this is a good way of keeping a record that allows the management to access the data when needed, using solely this option leaves a lot to be desired in terms of measuring actual productivity levels of employees. But, if you run a company where the only thing that matters is that your employees clock-in their eight-hour shifts, it’s as good a system as any.
Desktop Activity Monitoring Software
This type of software keeps track of employee attendance and productivity levels by monitoring them while working.
It is intended for employees who perform the majority or all of their tasks on their computers by taking screenshots, measuring keystroke density and patterns, mouse movements, etc. and translating it all into work activity.
The idea behind it is to make employees focus on tasks and minimize distractions both physical and virtual. In practice, just by having this kind of software running on their computers, employees are able to boost their productivity by roughly 20% during the first month of using employee monitoring software.
Website and App Visit History
By recording which websites and apps users visit on the Internet, management is in the position to encourage or sanction a certain type of workers’ behavior - in accordance with their job description, of course.
Insightful is one such tool that allows managers to label websites and apps as productive, unproductive, or neutral based on team members’ roles and responsibilities.
This is the perfect example that shows that this employee monitoring tool is meant to actively change workers’ habits by analyzing workforce behavior in order to conduct business in a better way.
Alerts for Undesired Behavior or Idle Time
Another useful option that enables active monitoring is receiving alerts from the monitoring software implemented in your organization.
To reduce the time wasted in the office, alerts can be sent to both employees and management about long periods of employee inactivity.
Moreover, for increasing the security of internal systems against cyber threats, management can be alerted about attempts of unauthorized access from the staff to the company infrastructure or suspicious external entities. This is where employee monitoring software becomes the first line of defense in cyberspace.
GPS Tracking via Mobile Devices
Some industries have no use from desktop recording software since employees are completing their tasks in the field for the most part. In that sense, it’s important for the company to know where their staff is located and for how long in order to follow their productivity.
Company phones and other mobile devices equipped with the GPS tracking option are the best way to ensure employees are behaving professionally while out of the office, thus software with this option is the best choice for them.
Call Monitoring on Mobile Phones
While some believe that call monitoring on mobile phones is an intrusive feature of software designed for spying on employees, some companies use it as a necessary evil when they are threatened by the competition and fear employees are leaking trade secrets.
Ethically, this is acceptable only for company-provided devices, but even if they’re not, the whole approach is very sensitive in the eyes of the law. Hence, most companies dare reach for it only as a last resort.
Stealth Monitoring on Company Devices
Depending on the company culture, some executives are reluctant to share with their employees that they are being monitored while working. Their excuse is that stealth employee monitoring provides them with a better overview of people’s working habits, more accurate workforce analytics data, and a fairer working environment, but it can also be construed as an infringement on labor rights.
What they are neglecting, however, is the fact that just knowing that they are being monitored increases employee productivity by 20-30% in the first month alone.
While this practice is deemed unethical and even unlawful in some countries, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. However, it’s worth mentioning that stealth monitoring software is reserved for devices provided by the company and not employee personal property.
Target Device Remote Control
An extension of stealth monitoring is remote control over devices used for conducting work. In an era where information is power, companies are vigilant about securing and limiting access to sensitive data as much as possible.
That’s why a lot of companies that issue phones and laptops where confidential information is stored, go to great lengths to ensure its safety in case of theft by wiping data remotely or storing backups on secure servers.
Add to that the ability to control who can unlock and lock a device and install apps, and companies have taken keeping tabs on employees to the next level.
Is Employee Monitoring a Passing Trend or a Long-Term Necessity?
A modern working environment demands modern solutions for different business issues - monitoring employee productivity included.
Depending on the specific pressures of their industry and business model, each company will have new challenges to respond to in the near future and some of them will include monitoring tools like Insightful.
Keeping employee performance on the highest level will, however, always be top priority for ensuring optimal business processes and success.
That is why you need to choose the best screen monitoring software for your company today - and not waste another minute on not reaching your full potential.
This article was originally written on August 23rd, 2019 by Aleksa Misic. It was updated on July 16th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.