What are the advantages and drawbacks of tracking your employees' every digital movement?


Employers around the world have had to adjust since the pandemic. They've had no choice but to change how their employees work, and remote work is here for good - both employees and organizations can gain from this hybrid and work-from-home revolution.

Remote work can be a cost-effective solution, and employers who allow flexibility will find that their employees' morale and productivity levels increase.

Statistics show that most organizations will support remote work.

  • 16% of remote companies

  • 40% of employees support remote/hybrid office work

  • 44% of respondents do not permit their employees to work remotely.

Remote work offers many advantages, but also presents challenges. Remote workers pose cybersecurity risks to employers and it may be harder for managers to ensure employees do what they are supposed to.

Employee monitoring tools have become an increasingly commonplace trend in today's hybrid and remote work environment, but employees have expressed mixed opinions about them.

What is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software is a program that tracks digital activities of employees. It has various capabilities, from taking screenshots of their computer multiple times an hour to general clock-in/clock-out tracking.

Hubstaff and BambooHR are two examples of tracking tools that can monitor various computer activities. The company receives this data in either a weekly or daily report.

These tools enable the tracking of the following items:

Time Clock
Keyboard Activity
Mouse Activity
Website Visited
Screenshots of Desktop

Which apps are used and for how long?

Even the most intrusive tools can track audio and video of employees. Employees have the option to view or hide this tracking, depending on which tool is employed and employer ethical considerations.

Monitoring can be beneficial for organizations concerned about productivity theft. But it can also alienate employees and damage morale, trust and morale. Before you decide whether or not to set up such a system, let us explore its pros and cons together.

Activity Monitoring Tools Offer Benefits

Managers can utilize this data to comprehend how employees spend their day

Many tracking tools allow managers to monitor time per project. This data can be used for project ROI projections by determining how long employees spend working on it.

Employers worry that remote workers will waste their time. Managers don't want to pay remote employees only to discover they spend half their day on Facebook.

Half of employees are monitored and spend at least 3+ hours each week doing activities other than work. When employees know their boss is monitoring their apps, they are less likely to do foolish things.

Tracking time for remote workers

Tracking tools may be beneficial to smaller companies who work remotely. Freelancers and employees alike can easily monitor their hours worked. Employers have the option of setting a weekly time limit of one hour and managing payments automatically through the app.

The Cons of Activity Monitoring Software

It Can Hurt Employee Productivity & Morale

Implementing activity monitoring can cause employees to feel like they're being kept in a cage. This could cause morale to drop, in turn affecting productivity levels.

Employees' thoughts often diverge from the work focus. Employees might ask themselves, "If this problem is too complex for tracking, will it give me a low productivity score?" or "What happens if I talk to a customer on the phone and don't move my mouse?" Do these tracking tools make me appear lazy?"

Employees may experience these emotions when being monitored:

Trust is no longer possible

Loyalty to the company could be put under strain

Being treated like a number instead of a person can be deeply distressing.

Activity Monitoring Doesn't Equal Productivity

Many tracking tools can generate "activity reports" that detail keyboard and mouse activity for a specified time period. These reports serve to inform employers and employees about employee usage patterns.

What happens if an employee needs to solve a workflow issue by using their brain instead of the mouse? Or what about when salesperson calls a customer using keyboard instead of mouse? Zoom calls present similar challenges as typing from your mobile phone doesn't require as much physical movement from either device as typing would require.

Employers might mistakenly think a worker is having fun while actually working hard if this information is left out of the activity report.

Employers with high-quality employees tend to be more cost effective. Nearly 50% of tech workers surveyed said they would leave if their boss monitored them, leading to feelings of distrust and alienation among good employees as well as underappreciation. Employers who monitor employees can lead to turnover among these talented personnel.

Creativity is hindered when you reduce everyone to a few keystrokes. Employees who feel valued and encouraged to grow tend to stay with companies that provide them with opportunities; on the contrary, employees who don't feel appreciated or aren't given room to develop may leave your company sooner.

Finding the Balance

When trying to strike the ideal balance between too much and too little tracking, here are some things to take into account:

  • What are the most essential metrics to monitor?

  • Do You Owe Your Employees the Same Treatment?

  • What are your employees' perspectives on monitoring?

  • Do you try to solve a problem that doesn't yet exist?

  • What features can be disabled that are not essential?

  • Are You Receiving Accurate Productivity Data From the Tool?

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