When the coronavirus forced nonessential businesses to close their doors in mid-March, U.S. employers began a sudden experiment in managing millions of Americans working remotely. For a lot of managers, that shift introduced a great deal of uncertainty over whether their teams really would be productive outside the confines of their office walls.
As a result, companies that make software to monitor employees remotely have seen a surge in demand in the last three months. The crowded industry comprises InterGuard, Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak, and Hubstaff, among others.
As many businesses consider maintaining remote work arrangements after the pandemic, remote monitoring may become a longer-term reality, Inc. reports. In their most Big Brother-ish form, these products let managers literally watch what employees are doing via their webcams and take periodic snapshots of what’s on their computer screens. They can also track a user’s “active” work time versus idle time, file transfers, incoming and outgoing emails, printing of documents, and many other tasks.
Here are some of the biggest issues to consider before deploying such a system at your company:
• Know your disclosure requirements. Laws vary from state to state on how you need to notify employees and obtain their consent to be monitored. If you have workers spread out across various states, it’s your responsibility to follow the statutes specific to the state where your employee works.
• Identify what you’re trying to accomplish and what the software is capable of. Create a clear purpose statement as well as guidelines on how to use the software internally—and how not to.
• Limit what you collect. You will be responsible for keeping all data confidential and secure, so the less you have access to, the better. Always think about the worst-case scenario.
• Be careful about making correlations between data and performance. If you’re considering using remote monitoring software products to gain new insights about an individual’s performance, you need to be especially careful. The reports and dashboards associated with these products may offer a lot of room for misinterpretation. For instance, while an employee’s laptop activity could suggest they are idle for too long and not productive, it’s possible they were conducting business by phone. Read the full story from Inc.