Regardless of how contemporary it may sound, the question of how to monitor employees at work is a century-old issue. These days, companies are getting bigger, teams more dispersed across different countries, and more data and processes are getting stored on computers and online. Therefore, the question of monitoring employees (as well as the more specific one on how to monitor office computers) has become increasingly important for businesses across all industries.
Here, we’ll be looking at the current trends in employee monitoring – from the well-known methods such as keycards, to the more advanced ones based on biometric data, to the digital business solutions for employee control. All with the aim of putting this issue in perspective and re-evaluating whether sometimes we’re going too far.
Is Employee Tracking Really Necessary?
There are several good reasons why it’s necessary, or at least a very good idea, to monitor staff computer usage, attendance, time on tasks and projects, and maybe even whereabouts.
First of all, since, as we’ve mentioned, more processes are being done on computers and therefore more data is being stored on hard drive or on cloud, there’s always a looming threat of cyber attacks or insider leaks that comes with the modern age. That’s why, apart from monitoring your employees, you also have to watch your employees’ computer activities to make sure that all of your data is secure.
Secondly, the trend of companies offering remote work and flexible hours to their employees is on the steep rise. What calls for some sort of tracking is the need for maintaining working hours compliance in the office or, in the case of telecommuting, at home.
Finally, just the fact that your company naturally wants an upper hand when it comes to projects and dealing with clients could be enough to prompt the wish to keep track of what your employees are doing, whether they’re coming to the office on time and whether they’re using their time in the best possible way.
Having these things in mind, workplace monitoring is not only safe from declining, but is also likely to get more essential in the future. Which is all the more reason to think about how you ought to do it.
The Basics: Old-School Monitoring Methods
Most companies with over ten employees have a need for some type of employee monitoring. We’ll mention a couple of the most popular and widespread methods in use today.
Timesheets are probably the most cost-effective way to track employee attendance and overtime. The basic way to do it is manually, but this is also the hardest system to maintain. Today, however, there are more and more innovative software solutions that make this process more automatic.
Keycards are another monitoring solution based on pretty accurate attendance tracking methodology, but their use is restricted to attendance tracking and premise access, which means that they can’t be used for data protection and process optimization.
And then there’s video surveillance – probably the most intrusive out of all the above mentioned methods, but also the one that comes closest to detecting potential threats and mapping out employees’ daily processes.
The New Age: Biometric Data
During the recent years, technology has advanced so far that we don’t need passwords and keycards any more – employees’ attendance, access points and even computer activity is tracked using their biometric data.
These methods include fingerprint scanning, retina scanning, facial recognition, etc. Traditionally, these were used at the building entrance as well as to track access to certain facilities but now they can be used to validate the access to computers and phones as well, which made it applicable to remote workers too.
The question emerges, though, of how acceptable this technology is for employees and employers. Biometric scanners are still widely considered intrusive and uncomfortable by employees. As for employers, this technology is expensive and even redundant for most average companies. So it might be some time before they’re accepted as a regular equivalent for keycards and login details.
In the meantime, we have computer logging software as a way to supply all the missing pieces.
Employee Monitoring Software: The Best of Both Worlds
Employee tracking system is the only method that fully accounts for the question of how to monitor employee computer usage. It runs on each employee’s computer and can be used to track apps, monitor web usage at work, track attendance according to computer activity, analyze performance and much more.
On the one hand, it lies somewhere in the middle of the privacy intrusion spectrum between regular timesheets and collecting biometric data. On the other hand, it’s jurisdiction is contained to one aspect of employee monitoring – computer activity. Although, considering the extent of work digitalization we’re witnessing today, that’s arguably much more data than any of the other methods.
All in all, software used to monitor employees might not be merely a transition. It may be all we’ll ever need in the future.
Employee monitoring trends are changing rapidly but the need for it remains. Does it go too far? It depends on how you implement biometric scanners, surveillance software for PC or any other method as well as how you use the data you get. But whether we’re entering the age when nothing employees do at work is private remains to be seen.