Employee Monitoring Software and Privacy: How Fine Is the Line?


Employee Monitoring Software and Privacy. Workpuls.com, von Nikola Mihajlovic.

Employee Monitoring Software and Privacy - X SIEBEN

Fotoquelle: Pixabay


The use of work monitoring software has been a debated topic for some time now. It’s understandable that workers have certain reservations regarding employee surveillance, even if it’s just in the workplace.

However, some employers are also concerned about implementing this software and its effect on employees’ performance and job satisfaction.

One of the most common concerns among both employees and employers is the issue of individual privacy, and rightfully so. This is probably one of the first things employers should think about before actually implementing computer monitoring software.

We’re going to address several aspects of the privacy problem, but we’ll also provide some best practices when it comes to monitoring computer use.


Initial Implementation


Before attempting to implement employee tracking software, employers have to get acquainted with their country’s laws regarding monitoring and privacy. Different countries have different laws in place, and they need to make sure that everything they do is in line with legal guidelines.

In most cases, they’ll have to either give prior notice to each employee or they’ll need to have their consent for implementing and conducting computer monitoring.

Another useful thing to know is how employee monitoring software works. Generally, the software has to be installed on every corporate computer the employer wants to track. Also, some thought needs to be put into who will have the privilege to access the data that’s collected. This is usually going to be the business owner or manager and possibly an HR specialist.

Employees should be informed that their activities are going to be monitored only during working hours. This is either set up manually, or employers can configure the software to start monitoring when each computer connects to the corporate network.


Tracking Employees’ Activities


There are so many possible features and data a computer monitoring program can track that employers often lose sight of which information they need and why.

For instance, tracking time spent on projects can help improve productivity, weekly reports can be used in evaluations, clock-ins and overtime recording can help with payroll, screenshots and keystroke tracking might provide better security for sensitive data, etc.

All of this data must be used for professional and corporate purposes only. Letting the employees in on which aspects of their work and computer use will be tracked and why is always a good idea.


Private Correspondence and Break Times


In many parts of the world there are laws that protect employees’ private correspondence and activities during their time off work. This means that if employees log into their Facebook account, for example, even if it’s during official working hours (which will inevitably happen and there’s no computer monitoring software in the world that will stop it), managers can’t access and read their personal messages or access their bank account details if they’re shopping.

Similarly, activities during break times aren’t supposed to be monitored because they are essentially private matters. Employers should (and usually do) stick to these restrictions, which gives employees reassurance that their private matters will stay private and that they’ll have a reasonable amount of freedom during their free time.


How Computer Monitoring Can Help


Finally, we’ll touch very briefly on the benefits that employee monitoring can offer if it’s implemented correctly and used in the right way. All of these benefits are conditioned on making sure proper protocols are in place with special considerations for employees’ privacy.

Good implementation is followed by careful choosing of which features will be tracked. Optimally, these should be aligned with business goals and should be directed at solving some existing or anticipated problems.

With this in mind, corporate computer monitoring can be a powerful tool when it comes to improving productivity and time management of individual workers as well as the entire team and company. Furthermore, it can be used for a fair estimate of billable hours and it can also help inform decisions on task and project delegation.




Computer monitoring software in the workplace and individual employee privacy are interconnected and the former can’t be effective and sometimes isn’t even legal if the latter is not taken into consideration.

There are laws and best practices in place to ensure employees’ privacy and general freedom are respected. This ultimately leads to better performance for employees as well as the whole company.



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