Many states have issued a ‘shelter in place’ order for residents, and the need for social distancing has influenced many companies to allow employees to work from home.
For companies that already provide employees with access to files, email and data via cloud-based networks, the switch to telecommuting may have been seamless. However, the massive influx of employees working from home during the pandemic may pose issues for companies where the remote office is not the norm.
Productivity, data security and the possible misuse of company-owned devices could be top concerns for companies that–prior to the pandemic–never had to give a second thought about how to monitor computer activity remotely.
With the remote workforce now going mainstream, though, monitoring computer activity might be the only solution to maintain accountability and keep managers aware of how company time is spent from those virtual workspaces.
But, how to monitor computer activity remotely? What activities should be monitored?
When the majority of your workforce telecommutes, keep a watchful eye on:
When employees telecommute, time tracking software may be one of the most important tools for maintaining productivity and holding employees accountable for their time management. Some companies may require monitoring and remote time tracking as a contingency for telecommuting.
There are many monitoring products that advertise their services for free. As a general policy, companies should vet any software they deploy on company or employee owned devices. Malware, viruses, and spyware could put your company and your entire network at risk.
Many reputable software companies will offer free trial periods for their products; in fact, InterGuard offers a seven-day trial period for companies to become familiar with the tools and see if the software works for their needs.
When the safety of your data and the productivity of your team is at stake, employee monitoring software is a valid, essential investment in your company’s future.
When you need to know every virtual activity that occurs on your screens (and across all devices), choose monitoring software with a wide range of capabilities. Before you deploy, cecide how much information you want to gain from monitoring data, too.
Most data from computers can be monitored and tracked by comprehensive software. Trackable data includes web history, all screenshots, email, texts, instant messages, logon/logoff history, social media history or logins, and keystrokes.
What you choose to monitor depends on your liability concerns and your industry. While software like InterGuard allows you to monitor almost all activity, companies can also set search parameters for data alerts. Enter specific keywords to trigger alerts when employees search for or enter those phrases.
This means that when remote workers are focused on certain subjects of concern or may be accessing data related to these phrases, managers are notified immediately in real time. Work in healthcare? Trigger alerts for HIPAA-related searches. Worried about financial breaches? Program alerts specific to certain accounts or financial data files.
Accessing the data on company-owned devices—including a laptop—can be as simple as just installing computer monitoring software. Companies should disclose to employees what devices are monitored and how they are monitored. However, if a device is owned by the company, employees may err on the side of caution and assume they are being monitored.
This doesn’t mean that every keystroke is tracked (although, it may be tracked), but a company device is one that has been purchased for business purposes only. For this reason, employers have a vested interest in tracking data on the device to make sure it isn’t being used for purposes that could harm the company. Geolocation tracking also allows the company to see the location of the device in case it’s lost or stolen. No company wants to have private data lost or misused…or sold to third parties or competitors.
HR may want to talk to employees about specific monitoring policies if there are questions or concerns about privacy. Many companies outline monitoring, internet usage and general policies regarding company devices in the HR handbook. If these policies aren’t specifically addressed, though, it should be ok and encouraged for employees to ask!
What if your company has a ‘bring your own device’ arrangement? Installing software to track an employee’s personal devices can get complicated, although stipulations regarding these types of agreements may be outlined in company HR documents.
According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, “BYOD policies may appear in a BYOD agreement, employment contract, orientation materials, employee manual, when an employee decides to use his device, or when the employee installs an employer’s mobile device management (MDM) software on his/her own device. It is important for employees to read an employer’s BYOD policy before participating in a BYOD program, and to ask questions.“
The best advice for companies is to run all BYOD policies through legal before deploying any monitoring software on personal devices. Never just assume the law is on your side.
Common sense may dictate that a company should keep a close eye on virtual employees. Monitoring remotely just makes sense, right? And employees should just assume they are being monitored remotely. Not so fast.
Clear communication and transparency between employers and employees is imperative to a good working relationship. Without communication and an honest working relationship, trust is difficult to establish.
When the team works remotely, managers and company owners may be exposed to a number of possible liabilities. Workers could steal time, slack off, misuse data, unintentionally install nefarious software, post egregious comments online that tracks back to the company…and commit many other violations that may harm the company.
Monitoring is a safety net for employers. In real-time, managers or owners can see what sites are visited, what data/files are accessed, where devices are located and much more. Most employees will understand the reasons behind monitoring, especially if monitoring software is a stipulation for them to work remotely.
You can even review the policy during orientation for new team members. This ensures that everyone understands the rules and the consequences when the rules are violated. Monitoring software also may keep employees more focused on work-related tasks and less likely to slack off on company time.Want to know if monitoring computer activity remotely will benefit your company? Try InterGuard today!