Remote monitoring software enables companies to surveillance employees’ computers, mobile devices, and online activities while working from home. Since the pandemic, the rate of employee monitoring has doubled from 30% to 60%, according to the Washington Post. In addition to the growing number of employers surveillancing their staff, the methods have become more robust and concerningly invasive. Keylogging, mandated facial recognition, geolocation tracking, camera and voice recording, and browser monitoring are some of the more intrusive forms of employee monitoring used as productivity measurement.
Keylogging: Keylogging is a type of software that monitors what someone is typing on their computer.
Facial recognition: Facial recognition is a form of biometric security where a person’s face is analyzed to ensure the proper person is performing work functions.
Geolocation Tracking: Geolocation tracking is the method of monitoring where a person is at and being notified when they relocate to a new place.
Camera/Voice Recording: Camera and voice recording are used to capture samples throughout a day to ensure a person is working consistently.
Browser Monitoring: Browser monitoring is the process of tracking and reviewing all browser activity, analyzing visited websites looking for non-work related sites.
Screen Capture: Screen capture software takes screenshots of an employees monitor at regular intervals and analyzes them looking for non-work related behaviors.
House visits: House visits are a more disturbing method of surveillance being employed where managers will show up with 24 hour notice to inspect an employee’s home workspace to confirm they have an adequate space to work free of distractions.
Even though remote work offers a variety of benefits, it also presents a unique set of challenges (LINK ARTICLE 10 REMOTE OBSTACLES + OVERCOME THEM). In a survey by ExpressVPN, data showed that 69% of the bosses surveyed felt uneasy about not being able to monitor their employees in person and 74% felt a lack of control over their businesses because of remote work. Underperformance, burnout (LINK TO BURNOUT ARTICLE), isolation, and poor communication are all common workplace issues amplified by remote work. While it’s normal for these new issues to make leaders uneasy, it’s important for leaders to reflect on how they evaluate productivity measurement and assess whether or not they feel insecure about their ability to lead and adapt in a remote workplace.
In an article discussing trust issues between remote leaders and their employees, the Harvard Business Review correlated managers’ distrust with a low confidence in their ability to successfully manage a distributed team. Furthermore, it concluded that feelings of uncertainty and lack of control in a remote work environment can sometimes evolve into unfair skepticism, causing managers to micromanage employees’ input, particularly in the form of minute-to-minute employee monitoring and the use of intrusive remote monitoring software.
There’s no way to eradicate underperforming employees. Just as they existed in the office, they will undoubtedly exist in a remote culture as well. But, instead of letting your crippling fears penalize all of your employees with a rigid input-based evaluation system, establish clear expectations for output, along with a results-based system for productivity measurement.
As you can imagine, productivity is a primary fear of many remote team leaders. The notion that Tracking weekly performance or using software for productivity measurement is much different than surveilling employees on a minute-to-minute basis. Demanding people to operate like robots over the needs of your employees is both unproductive and bad for business. Anything restraining how and where an employee works from home is both overbearing and, undoubtedly, a form of micromanagement, proven to increase turnover and slow down productivity. Instead, review your productivity measurement with a workforce management system that focuses on KPIs, the quantity and quality of work employees produce, and an output threshold that quantifies weekly performance.
If you want more resources on the problem and promise of productive remote teams, check out:
The 7 Must-Haves to Optimize Productivity and Engagement of a Remote Workforce
Employee surveillance makes a hard situation (like a three year pandemic) worse. There is only one benefit to remote monitoring software and that is acknowledging that your company is micromanaging. From there, you can start to rethink the ways you can repair your relationship with your employees whose lives you’ve undoubtedly made more difficult and, hopefully, reassess what new strategies your company needs to create a more flexible, remote work culture.
Here are a few ways you can get away from Remote Monitoring Software:
Hawking over your employees on a minute-to-minute in a remote environment is as unproductive as would be on-site. Not only does it consume your time, but it strips your team of autonomy and flexibility. A better approach to productivity measurement is to assess your metrics with a workforce management system that focuses on KPIs, the quantity and quality of work employees produce, and an output threshold that fairly assess employee performance.
If you feel that your current systems need a revamp, consider these questions:
What frequency does your team set personal and company goals?
What systems are in place to measure accountability?
How are hard conversations addressed when expectations aren’t met?
Gathering feedback from your employees about what does and doesn’t work for them is a great way to gather insight on your company’s current practices. Once received, consider a fair way to evaluate what concerns need to be addressed and what systems need to be reevaluated?
Oversight is openly against employee surveillance and believes that performance should be measured on key performance indicators (KPIs) and weekly output. We believe in a people-first approach centered around trust, communication, and time management is the best way to optimize productivity and diminish fears around underperformance in a remote work culture. Managing a remote or hybrid workforce brings with it new challenges, but it also brings the opportunity to empower your workforce with a healthy work-life balance.