Many businesses now think employee monitoring software is only useful for remote work. However, this software is a great aid in the office as well. Here are the benefits as well as concerns.
As the pandemic forced companies to close their offices and enter a remote working environment, the employee monitoring software industry has seen a triple-digit rise in demand. The driving force was the need to maintain business continuity, which can be a big feat for employees who are working with family members in the same room.
However, now that governments are easing up on the restrictive measures, many companies are struggling to decide whether their new normal should include in-office work and, if so, whether employee behavior analytics needs to be part of that.
Benefits of employee monitoring software
The biggest benefits of a company using workforce analytics tools after going back to the office lie in the problems it solves with its functions and integrations:
- Project management
- Productivity and accountability
- Fair working environment
- Objective performance reviewing
- Internal system and data security
1. Project management
As business operations are largely digitized today, companies in all niches with various team structures have moved on from using whiteboards and sheets for managing employee workloads.
Large enterprises and SMBs alike have turned to implement modern project management platforms to facilitate planning and workload distribution in a more cohesive way. Those that chose top-tier computer activity monitoring platforms while working remotely did so partially because they'd integrated a project management system as well.
Even if some business owners and managers believe they won't need to actively track employee performance once back in the office setting, moving away from an efficient and established way to handle the workload would be a mistake, as it can cause workflow holdups and employee inefficiency.
Employee monitoring software with a built-in task management function gives you an accurate picture of not only what each employee is working on at any given time but also how their activity correlates with their project and time management skills. It helps managers identify whether their team members give urgency to high-value assignments or waste their time on menial tasks.
Moreover, it is also a "first-aid kit" of sorts in situations when a project suffers a setback, as it gives business owners and managers the means to investigate the source of the problem (tool inadequacy or unavailability, lack of skill, poor time management, etc.).
This is where quality screen monitoring software provides the insights necessary for proper project management, regardless of where your staff is working, without violating their privacy.
2. Productivity and accountability
Companies on average see an increase in productivity of around 25% in the first month of implementation of this type of tool. This includes companies with an in-office setting or a distributed workforce, large enterprises and SMBs, and those that employ only full-time staff or have external collaborators.
Decision-makers often have a preconceived notion that employees working in an office environment are more productive and accountable for their work than their remote counterparts because they are monitored by their supervisors in person – hence the reluctance to have in-office activity monitoring software. However, there are more factors to consider here.
In a healthy working environment, responsible and introspective employees find such software useful for self-evaluation of their working habits. Oftentimes, people are not even aware of how much time they lose on less important tasks and the transition to refocus on work after interruptions, which in turn makes them stay late in the office to finish tasks on time.
Comprehensive insights into their daily workflows makes it easier for employees to "clear the clutter" and cut down on time waste. In this sense, computer activity monitoring actively involves them in the company process optimization by raising their accountability and productivity levels.
Moreover, access to productivity insights can add to employees' job satisfaction, as they can improve their efficacy in the workplace and continuously experience the feeling of accomplishment at work. [For a comprehensive and affordable employee monitoring software option, check out our review of SentryPC.]
Editor's note: Looking for employee monitoring software? For help finding the right solution for your business, fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.
3. Fair working environment
In a conflictual environment, tools of this type can help resolve issues and remove bottlenecks as they appear in multi-personnel projects or teams with a poor working atmosphere.
In cases of disagreements between team members about respecting working hours, being punctual at work, and completing professional commitments on time without disturbing other people's working habits, time monitoring software can be instrumental in resolving the issues in an objective and constructive way.
There is always that one person who arrives late to work or likes to leave early without finishing their tasks for the day. While that is acceptable in the right circumstances, it may create imbalance and conflicts in the team.
Resolving these issues without disturbing the company culture requires a delicate approach and objective eye, which is exactly where such software lends the most help – by providing accurate data, unbiased by interpersonal relations, and relevant to situations like this.
Most workforce analytics software clearly displays activity patterns at the individual, team and company levels, thus enabling business owners, team leads or HR managers to create a working environment that is fair to all involved.
4. Objective performance reviewing
A means of completing an objective performance review process is priceless in companies of all sizes and work settings. Not only does this provide a solid base for unobstructed workflow and honed operational processes, but it also allows supervisors to pinpoint the most hardworking individuals and teams, even if they are working in an office. This is critical information for future workload allocation – especially in the case of high-profile campaigns with specific time constraints and large financial potential.
Moreover, employee monitoring software can provide relevant insights into a possible development path for each staff member, as well as determining the fields in which they can offer guidance and a helping hand to co-workers, both on joint projects and professional development.
On a grander scale, it allows business owners and enterprise C-suites to define and shape company culture in a way that benefits all members of the collective – whether that is introducing different tools or manners of communication, determining the need for additional personnel, or rearranging internal resources and processes.
Obviously, workforce analytics software that provides relevant and actionable information is a building block for companies that take human management seriously – and is crucial in this respect not only for remote teams but in-office ones as well.
5. Internal system and data security
Enterprises tend to invest in cybersecurity the most, even though cyberattackers target SMBs more frequently. To a big extent, it is employees who potentially pose the biggest threat, which is why employee monitoring tools hold value for any security-conscious company, regardless of its size. Even though employees who do their work remotely (whether fully or partially) are exposed to malicious behavior in cyberspace more than their in-office counterparts, those working in a clear line of sight of their supervisors cannot be overlooked either.
Far from instilling distrust in workers, the goal here is to add a layer of protection against unauthorized resource usage, including access to confidential information and internal systems.
The alert system featured in some activity monitoring software can help you respond to cyberattacks in a timely manner, before any impactful damage is done, or reveal a point of access in cases where it's the result of employees' inadvertently irresponsible behavior. It can also pinpoint the areas where security improvements can be made to system and data safety – employee working patterns, website and app usage, adherence to established security measures, etc.
Concerns about introducing employee monitoring software
Even though all kinds of analytics software are beneficial to employee productivity and company growth, it seems that both parties approach its introduction in their working environment with a dose of reservation.
The reasons for that are multiple:
- Personal data safety
- Legal issues
Whether based on previous experience or incomplete data, it would be irresponsible of a company and its leaders not to fully investigate and remove each of these concerns before implementing monitoring software.
1. Employee privacy
The term "computer activity monitoring" initially raises negative feelings, with employees being concerned about their privacy being endangered by the employer or even software provider.
The question of what exactly is being monitored, why, and in what way is certainly what first comes to mind, as well as the purpose behind such a decision and the impending consequences.
It falls on you as an employer to be completely transparent on all accounts with employees, perhaps as early as when you enter the process of choosing the appropriate software. Involving the staff in the evaluation process would certainly help prove you have no bad intentions in using screen monitoring software, while also paving the path for their acceptance of the company decision, adding constructive criticism, and stating affinities among different choices.
2. Data safety
Safety of personal information is another great concern in implementing monitoring technology. Particularly apprehensive can be those workers who had to make a switch from the company computers to their personal ones while working from home, as they may be wondering where the monitoring stops and how much of their personal information the software will gather.
For that reason, different pieces of activity monitoring software have various capabilities and security provisions – from those prone to infesting personal computers with malware to those with supremely tight security measures in place.
Additionally, industry leaders such as Hubstaff and Workpuls pay much attention to worker data being stored securely – on the customer company premises as well as in top-of-the-line cloud servers – where access is permitted only to authorized customer company personnel. You must seriously consider these factors when choosing a software provider.
Employees and companies alike are also concerned about the legal aspect of employee monitoring and establishing clear lines about what is permitted and under what circumstances.
Monitoring in different countries or world regions comes with varying limitations and prerequisites in terms of which employee activities can be tracked, when, where, in what way, and for what purpose. Toeing that line is a delicate process, no matter how big or small your company is.
You need to be transparent with your employees and stay within the legal boundaries. In practice, that entails notifying employees (in a timely manner) about your intentions to introduce activity monitoring software, allowing your staff to give their consent to being monitored, handling the information in compliance with legislation, and using the gathered information objectively and justifiably.
Monitoring of any kind in the workplace can raise questions of trust and loyalty between your company and its employees. Some workers start to question their own work ethics and efficiency, while others look for that one slacker who brought this onto everyone. Their relationship with management can also come into question.
Companies facing these issues can resolve them by clearly stating the monitoring software's purpose, its benefits, and the goals the company hopes to achieve with it.
By sharing the workforce insights with your employees and using the information to objectively influence your business processes, you and your team managers can remove conflicting feelings toward such tools and utilize them freely in accordance with their benefits.
[If you're interested in this type of solution for your business, check out our buying guide and picks for the best employee monitoring software.]