COVID 19 ushered in an age of remote working, a practice that likely will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Gartner, a respected HR research firm, posted survey results that show 82% of all companies intend to allow full or part-time remote working going forward. Remote working has advantages for both employers and employees. But when employees are out of sight, how can employers effectively monitor their time?
In a world with Zoom conferences, instant messaging, texting, Tik Tok, and other “connected” communications, it isn’t surprising to learn there is software capable of monitoring an employee working from a laptop at home or elsewhere. But before a company jumps on the idea of tracking employees at home, they should carefully evaluate their exposure to legal issues and the effect such monitoring has on overall workforce morale.
Is Remote Monitoring the Right Choice for Your Company?
To be clear, software that tracks workers at home can be very intrusive. For example, some record keystrokes, others track time spent on company email and communications pages, others can take random screenshots of the worker’s monitor, and yes, some can snap a picture of the worker in front of their computer.
The apparent challenges include avoiding invasion of privacy lawsuits and perception by workers that the company has become Big Brother spying on them at home.
It can be done, and the demand for remote monitoring software is up 26% over 2019. SHRM offers these tips for companies anticipating using the software:
- Transparency is the best policy. Announce the software and how it works. Being transparent about the monitoring removes the employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy, a key element in invasion-of-privacy lawsuits.
- The corporate motive for installing tracking software is also important. If it is used to benefit employees, it is probably a sound business decision. However, if it is used purely for evaluation or to penalize an employee, it’s probably a lawsuit or turnover waiting to happen.
- Some industries are highly regulated, and monitoring workers becomes an issue of compliance. In a sense, these situations are the easiest when selling remote monitoring to employees. The job requires it by law.
- Workers generally view monitoring software negatively. Over 70% believe instituting such software will damage the trust between employees and employers. One way to overcome this perception is to use the software to measure productivity rather than time. Gathering data on productivity allows the employee to work on their schedule and provides valuable data for talent optimization.
There are several firms marketing tracking software, but generally speaking, these three are considered leaders in the field:
- Teramind. Teramind’s approach is to track active work time versus inactive. The software tracks time spent on apps, websites, or email, gauges team productivity levels and helps enforce data security policies.
- ActivTrak. This software can detect potential disengagement or burnout signs by comparing historical data on time spent on a specific task.
- Controlio. Because it is cloud-based, Controlio is exceptionally competitive in pricing and easily scalable. It is, however, one of the most invasive of the monitoring software.
Interested? Remote monitoring is rife with both problems and possibilities. Contact us at ASCEND, and we will be happy to evaluate your situation. At the end of the day, it isn’t about control; it is about productivity and profitability.