Workplace Success

How to (Not) Spy on Your Employees: The Complete Guide to User Activity Monitoring for Remote Teams

May 5, 2023
IN THIS BLOG

Do you wish you could keep a closer eye on your remote employees? As much as it would be entertaining to tip-toe behind them and watch exactly what they’re doing, it probably isn’t the best use of your time (not to mention against pretty much any labor law).

We’ve all had the thought at one point or another: are employees really doing the work they're supposed to be doing? Whether it's those late-night emails sent from home, suspicious online searches during lunchtime, or procrastinating Facebook posts throughout their shift.

Well, don't worry, because although it may sound like a scene straight out of James Bond, you can figure out how (not) to spy on your employees without breaking any laws by utilizing user activity monitoring for remote teams.

Read on if you dare; no secret agents required!

What Is User Activity Monitoring?

Are your co-workers up to no good? Is there someone in the office who just can't seem to resist the urge to snoop? Fear not, dear friend! User activity monitoring tools are here to save the day.

These software tools are like Big Brother, monitoring user activity and tracking your every move on company-owned devices and networks, ensuring that no one is crossing any lines. Whether it's a harmless mistake or a malicious intent, these monitoring tools will catch it all.

It's like giving your computer a pair of detective glasses. With user activity monitoring, businesses can catch sneaky behaviors before they turn into naughty data breaches. Think of it like a security guard for your company's most precious information. No more shady activity slipping through the cracks; you got virtual eyes everywhere!

But hey, it's not all about paranoia. UAM tools can actually help stop insider threats, whether they're accidental or purposely malicious. Incorporating user activity monitoring software allows you to keep track of your employees more efficiently and less creepily. This way, you can make sure no one is slacking off or being shady.

TLDR:

  1. User Activity Monitoring Software can help business owners improve employee productivity, ensure legal compliance, strengthen security, and make better budgeting decisions.
  2. Improper use of User Activity Monitoring can lead to decreased employee morale, increased privacy concerns, and even legal issues.
  3. The key is to know when and how much activity monitoring is necessary for a workplace.
  4. When done wisely, monitoring user activity can increase efficiency and make your business flourish!

Importance Of User Activity Monitoring Software:

Running a remote team can feel like herding cats. How can you tell if your team is working hard or hardly working? Without installing hidden cameras, the best solution is to have software tools that enable you to track their progress. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable options that help managers monitor their teams' activities, client visits, and travel time. Here are some  benefits of employee activity monitoring:

Helps Understand Employee Strengths and Weaknesses:

There are some real perks to watching over your remote team’s virtual shoulder at work. For one, they are significantly less likely to screw things up and more likely to crank out quality work. The result? They avoid costly errors and become great at time management.

You can also measure outputs like a pro and make sure your workforce is firing on all cylinders. Let's face it, everyone wants to be recognized for their talents, especially at work. This is difficult to do with a remote workforce, as it is hard to keep track of everyone’s progress. But with UAM tools, companies can finally see which employees are rockstars at work and which ones are underperforming by tracking user activity.

Read more on Employee Time Tracking vs. Employee Monitoring.

Easily Conduct Employee Investigations:

Got an office dispute that needs resolving? Save yourself the headache by investing in user activity monitoring software. The high-tech monitoring system lets you track employee emails, browser history, and more, giving you solid evidence to back up any investigations or complaints that may arise.

No more playing the "he said, she said" game. With UAM tools, you'll have the hard facts to set things straight in no time. And the real kicker? A fair and efficient resolution process makes for a happy workforce.

Efficient Legal Compliance:

Did you know that companies must follow strict laws and regulations for online activity and digital data use? It can be a real headache to keep track of it all, especially with a remote workforce. Monitoring user activity is the ideal solution here.

By implementing UAM, you can easily keep an eye on what your employees are doing online and ensure they're complying with all the legal mumbo jumbo - no more worrying about employees accidentally breaking the rules. You'll be able to monitor everything from their browser history to their login credentials, see which apps they're downloading, and even ensure that all the emails and marketing materials adhere to the specific guidelines.

So, keep your company information within the established guidelines and prevent any legal trouble for your business or employees!

Makes Your Workplace Safe and Secure:

Running a business is like constantly fighting gladiator battles; cyber attackers and malicious insiders are always lurking, ready to pounce and steal secrets.

But fear not! User activity monitoring (UAM) tools are here to save the day, protecting your organization from cyber threats with one swift slice of its digital sword. These tools secure networks and devices, shielding them from data breaches, sneaky insiders, and even harmless-looking web content that might be up to no good.

With UAM, you can watch in awe as the audit log records every move, giving your IT and security team the power to act fast and fend off attacks like true cyber-warriors.

Improve Employee Productivity and Workflows:

Let's cut to the chase. If you're not simplifying your business processes, you might as well be trying to run a marathon in flip-flops. Lucky for you, user activity monitoring software helps you avoid any unnecessary blisters.

When your team knows that their activity is being tracked, they tend to be more mindful of how they're spending their workday. That awareness translates to a swift uptick in Employee Productivity. Plus, being able to quickly adapt to any issues that arise in the field means less time spent putting out fires after the fact.

With this software, you can see where your employees are going off track and realign them to the right path. It's like having a map to the treasure of improved employee morale, office operations, and profitability.

Read more about Performance Appraisals For Remote Employees.

Deter Unauthorized Web Usage:

Are your employees secretly surfing sketchy websites? Oh no, we're not talking about conspiracy theories or aliens here. We're talking about the dangers of exposing your company devices and precious data to viruses and malware.

But don't worry; web activity monitoring software can ride in like a superhero and protect both you and your employees from potential threats.

Because let's face it, not everyone can tell the good guys from the bad on the internet. Speaking of bad guys, exposing your company's proprietary information can lead to some nasty legal action.

Plus, it's just not cool to put your company, employees, and customers at risk. And even if your employees are being well-behaved, personal time-wasting can add up to some serious hidden costs for your biz. Fortunately, user activities monitoring software can help protect your company from all sorts of misadventures, from infected links to unauthorized downloads and illegal browsing.

Accurate Billing:

Are you tired of relying on the fallible human brain to keep track of employee-client interactions, especially with the added load of managing a remote team? Are you tired of losing clients over billing disputes? It can be a real drag, not to mention the damage it does to your organization's reputation. Well, you can say goodbye to billing inaccuracies and strained relationships with clients with cutting-edge UAM tools. 

With time-tracking software, you'll have hard data to back up your billing, proving that your clients were charged fairly for the time spent with your reps. Not only will your clients be happy, but your organization will also save money in the long run by making sure employee hours are recorded accurately.

Let technology do the heavy lifting and ensure accurate reporting of time spent with clients.

Give Better Feedback:

Picture this: a team of employees, remote and spread out across the world. They work hard every day but feel like they're in a feedback black hole. That is until user activity monitoring software swoops in to save the day!

With this software, managers can see exactly what each employee is up to and give feedback that is specific, meaningful, and based on actual work done. Your team members get coached in areas where they're struggling or get recognition where they're crushing it.

Budget Projects Better:

You can see which clients need the most attention by tracking user activity and their interactions with clients. This way, you can ensure that your revenue-generating clients get the love they deserve while still being able to budget your funds and human capital wisely. The more information you have about employee-client relationships, the easier it is to distribute resources. It's like having a crystal ball but without all the mystical hocus-pocus.

Improved Time Management:

Managers love to keep things on schedule, so they typically whip out the timeline before handing out any assignments. But, with a little employee monitoring magic, they can actually track the time spent and activities performed.

Tracking your remote employees' activities can give managers insight into which business processes are working smoothly and which could use some tweaking. It also allows them to give personalized feedback to remote employees individually. Whether it's a virtual high-five or gentle constructive criticism, employee monitoring can help boost morale and productivity. 

Where Most Employers Go Wrong?

Companies these days are going to great lengths to improve customer service and sales by using employee monitoring software. Their goal is to better understand how their employees interact with customers and colleagues, as well as how much time they spend on the job, especially in the case of remote workers, but all of this often comes at the cost of privacy invasion.

But wait, what about privacy?

There’s a thin line between being observant and invading personal space. If you cross that line, you might just lose your best employees and some serious profits. 

Here are some wrong ways employers sometimes end up using user activity monitoring software.

UAM Can Negatively Affect Morale:

Are your employees giving you the side-eye every time you mention the word "user activity monitoring"? There's a misbelief that keeping tabs on employees will suck the morale out of them. That’s not true. The WAY you keep tabs is what demoralizes them. 

For instance, poking into their desktops or watching over their keystrokes negatively affects the morale of employees. But if keeping tabs means counting the hours they spent on each task to measure productivity, employees are good! In fact, keeping tabs in this form motivates employees to become more efficient because it promotes accountability. Plus, employees get to see exactly what their strong points are or areas where they’re losing too much time during the day. 

The solution lies in transparency.

Let your team know that you're not trying to catch them slipping. Rather, you're trying to streamline operations and boost productivity. Consider drafting a positive policy that outlines the benefits of monitoring and giving your employees plenty of advance notice. With a little reassurance and communication, you'll have your team on board in no time!

UAM Can Foster Employee Distrust:

Let them know that monitoring programs actually work wonders for boosting productivity, helping in balancing workloads, preventing burnout, and minimizing distractions. If they're still hesitant, remind them that monitoring data is the ultimate way to gauge performance. It can help them score those big promotions and tasty wage increases.

Read more on The Cycle of Toxic Productivity and How to Prevent it.

UAM Can Make Employees Feel Pressured:

Being monitored and controlled can make employees feel anxious and trapped, which is not exactly a recipe for a happy and productive workplace. In fact, it could lead to bad blood between management and employees.

So, what's the key to success in the business world? Building strong relationships with your team! Trust and respect go a long way, and that means giving your employees space to do their thing and feel valued in the process.

UAM Can Lead To Privacy Concerns:

Have you ever felt like someone was stalking your online activity while you were trying to work? Well, that's exactly what the wrong user activity monitoring tools can feel like to workers. It's no wonder they feel awkward and uneasy when so much of their personal information is being kept on record. Some employees feel skittish about logging into their bank account or typing in their social security number when they are using UAM tools.

It can be unnerving to think about someone watching your keyboard and mouse activity.

But here's the thing: tracking activity for productivity and watching over them are two entirely different things. While the former is more about calculating billable hours, working capacity, and output (you know… things that matter), the latter is inclined towards invading employee privacy for no productive reason. 

UAM Can Cause Legal Issues If Misused:

Employee activity monitoring can lead to legal issues if used unethically. Luckily, there are ways to make it work for everyone. Communicate clearly with your employees and make sure they feel empowered rather than spied on. With proper communication, the right tool, and ethical use, you can prevent legal headaches and ensure a happy workplace.

Who Can (and CanNot!) Use UAM tools

Larger enterprises deal with multiple teams, hundreds of employees, and gigabytes of crucial data. Monitoring and tracking breaches manually in such an enterprise can be extremely daunting, not to mention costly. Therefore, it makes all the sense for such companies to opt for a full-fledged UAM tool that can monitor internal activity and report potential breaches.

However, smaller companies and startups operate in a very close-knit environment, not to mention on a restrictive budget. With a limited number of people, tracking becomes a whole lot easier even without spending additional bucks on UAM tools.

As an alternative, such smaller companies can use non-invasive time tracking tools that monitor employees’ tasks, projects, and working capacity. 

The Perfect Activity Monitoring Alternative for Small Teams

Non-surveillance time tracking tools like timegram are the answer for managers looking to keep tabs on their remote team without being intrusive!

This nifty little tool encourages your team to jump from task to task while also giving you an insight into how their workday goes. 

timegram also comes with a dedicated project management feature that allows you to keep your team safe, secure, efficient, and productive. 

Summing it Up

As larger organizations shift to remote work, UAM tools are becoming increasingly important for their security and well-being. On the flip side, smaller teams and startups can work with non-invasive time tracking and project management tools like timegram to keep tabs on their workforce. 

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some commonly asked queries you may have regarding this blog:

What is the main goal of User Activity Monitoring?

The goal of user activity monitoring is to implement a security measure that keeps your company data and communication safe. By tracking who has access to sensitive information, UAM tools prevent any unauthorized parties from peeping into places they shouldn't.

Why do I need User Activity Monitoring Software?

User activity monitoring helps keep your network and data secure, which means fewer headaches for you. Secondly, it can assist in legal compliance and protect in the event of any issues. And last but not least, monitoring employee activity to improve overall productivity.

What is the best kind of UAM tool for network devices?

All UAM tools have their unique benefits. For instance, timegram is a leading non-surveillance time tracking and project management tool for remote and hybrid teams. Others may be more inclined towards securing potential internal breaches.

What is the most important feature of good UAM software?

You need a monitoring tool that knows when there's a problem and notifies the right person ASAP. 

And not just any ol' alert will do; we're talking alerts with all the juicy details, like where the issue is lurking and how bad it really is. Think of it as your personal alert genie, prioritizing the most crucial problems at the right time and making your life a whole lot easier.

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Hafsa Adil

About the author

Hafsa straddles two worlds, one that we all consider that real one (she doesn't though), and the other that her mind birthed. That world is where ideas live, grow, and sometimes crash & burn. That's where all her writing comes from!

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