7 Ways That Monitoring Employees’ Computer Use Increases Productivity

How monitoring employees computer use increases productivity

One of the greatest productivity monitoring tools that companies have access to is employee monitoring software. 

With the best employee monitoring software installed on company devices, employers are able to monitor employees to collect employee activity data from company-owned devices. 

Whether it be tracking employee keystroke frequency to identify excessive hours of idle time, ensuring that employees are using company-owned tools for work-related purposes, or using real-time computer usage data to validate time tracking, employers are able to use this employee data as a valuable business intelligence tool. 

Considering installing computer monitoring tools to improve employee productivity for your company? Here are 7 ways that you can use employee monitoring software to increase productivity in the workplace.

Try BrowseReporter, the Best Employee Productivity Monitoring Software

Ready to start monitoring your employees? BrowseReporter’s user activity tracking features provide the data you need to make informed productivity management decisions.

  • Collect real-time computer and internet usage data from your users
  • Capture automatic screenshots when a user visits a website or uses an app
  • Review user activity data from a web browser on any device in your network

The solution can be installed on-premises or on a self-managed cloud server, giving employers full control over the security of their employees’ user activity data. 

With a few simple adjustments, BrowseReporter can even monitor remote computers, allowing employers to collect productivity data from employees who work from home.

BrowseReporter integrates seamlessly with the CurrentWare Suite, allowing you to later purchase and deploy licenses for our web filtering, USB control, and remote power management solutions without redeploying the client software.

Table of Contents



How Does Employee Monitoring Software Boost Employee Productivity?

1) Employee Monitoring Prevents Cyberloafing

What is cyberloafing?

Cyberloafing—also known as cyberslacking— describes when an employee surfs the web for reasons that are not related to their job. This includes using workplace internet for personal use, playing computer games, and browsing social networking sites.

Why do employees cyberloaf in the workplace? 

  • 34% of employees say they are not challenged enough
  • 34% say they work long hours
  • 32% say there are no incentives to work harder
  • 30% are unsatisfied with their employment
  • 23% say they’re bored at work
  • 18% say it’s due to low wages
    Salary.com: Wasting Time at Work Survey 2013

With the vast majority of work now being done on computers and over the internet, there have never been more distractions in the workplace. When employees use the internet they are likely to be tempted by a smorgasbord of distractions including social media, video streaming, and online games, just to name a few. 

While some cyberloafing is often permitted (and even beneficial), it can become excessive. To help strike a balance between short beneficial breaks and full-blown cyberloafing, management can track the websites visited by employees to ensure that the majority of their online hours are used appropriately.

According to statistics from Salary.com, a staggering 64% of employees visit non-business-related websites every day while on company time. These numbers are all self-reported, too—realistically, that number is likely much higher.

The fact is that it is common, and in some cases can even be beneficial, for employees to visit these sorts of websites. Doing so provides relief from what could become mundane tasks and can help to prevent burnout for those who spend their entire workday on a computer.

According to research from Brent Croker of the University of Melbourne, brief periods of cyberloafing can boost employee productivity—so long as personal internet use does not consume more than 12% of a worker’s time.

The best employee monitoring software will include productivity monitoring features that automatically sort employee activity into productive, unproductive, and neutral classifications. 

For management, this automatic classification makes productivity monitoring simple and effective—they simply need to review the productivity metrics to verify that less than 12% of their employees’ work time was spent on unproductive websites. This allows for greater flexibility than outright blocking distracting websites.

As a business owner, it will be critical for you to determine whether or not personal computer use is acceptable within your company. 

With employee monitoring software you will be able to easily identify which workers are partaking in excessive cyberloafing. If social media and other forms of personal internet usage are consistently distracting your employees you can combine the best employee monitoring software with web filtering software to take control over employee internet usage.

2) Monitor Employees and User Activity to Detect Insider Threat Risks

Insider Threats - How to Stop Data Theft - CurrentWare

The first thought that comes to mind when employers think about personal internet use in the workplace is the direct loss of productivity that their company incurs when employee time is spent on non-work tasks. 

While employers use productivity monitoring software to mitigate this risk, there is a much greater threat to a business than the time lost to cyberloafing. Employees that are free to surf online uninhibited are a significant security threat.

Depending on the websites visited, an employee’s personal internet use has the potential to turn them into an insider threat. From a security perspective, they could download malicious software, visit high-risk websites, and fall for phishing schemes in their less-secure personal email accounts.

This high-risk behavior is a great risk to the company’s intellectual property, customer data, devices, and network.

The best employee monitoring software goes beyond productivity monitoring by tracking user activity for evidence of access to high-risk sites. They will monitor an employee’s online activity and automatically notify designated personnel when these high-risk activities occur. As an added layer of security, web filtering software can be used to prevent access to undesirable websites altogether.

So, how does this related to employee productivity? Simply put, falling victim to a cyberattack causes significant financial loss in the form of a damaged reputation, fines for non-compliance, and the resources required to investigate and respond to a security incident.

Not only are cyberattacks expensive, they will also damage your company’s reputation making it less likely that consumers will want to make a purchase from your business. Arcserve’s 2020 Data Attack Surface Report found that 25% of consumers across North America, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany would refrain from doing business with a company that has fallen victim to ransomware.

Damages inflicted through cyberattacks can halt company productivity as devices such as servers and computers may need to be taken offline for remediation and investigation. Since these are essential tools that employees need to work effectively, overall employee productivity will drop.

Not only can the equipment be damaged, but investigations into cyberattacks can further halt company productivity. When a company needs to dedicate time and resources towards investigating how and why an attack occurred, they’ll have less resources to dedicate towards growth.

3) Monitoring Internet Usage Detects Bandwidth Hogs

BrowseReporter’s internet bandwidth usage dashboard

Unproductive user activity does more than increase idle time; it’s a serious waste of bandwidth that could affect the performance of your network.

YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, and Netflix are notorious for the amount of bandwidth they use. Streaming videos from these websites uses about 3GB per hour, which can become an extremely high amount when extrapolated throughout an office.

High levels of bandwidth strain caused by employees freely browsing the internet will affect the entire workforce. Slow internet speeds caused by low bandwidth will cause tasks to take longer than they should due to slower load times. In turn, slow internet will cause employees to become frustrated and can erode an office’s morale. 

QuickTech emphasizes the importance of strong internet speeds for employees, claiming that the frustration caused by a poor network can lead to higher turnover rates for a company. 

Don’t lose your most valuable assets due to a few bad apples hogging all of the bandwidth. With the best employee monitoring software, you can monitor on-premises user activity for excessive online bandwidth consumption and provide corrective actions to prevent the abuse of unproductive bandwidth hogs in the future.

4) Make Data-Informed Management Decisions

Business Intelligence - How organizations use employee monitoring data - CurrentWare
Learn how to use the data from employee monitoring software in this article

Managing a business and a workforce can be a very difficult challenge for even the most experienced managers. With high demands from senior leaders, clients, and the employees themselves, there are a number of important decisions that will need to be made in order to hit your company’s goals and satisfy stakeholders.

Monitoring employee productivity with software tools installed on workplace devices is a great way to improve your team’s overall success while also positioning yourself as a valuable leader within the company. 

From a business intelligence perspective, user activity data provides far more information than who is wasting company time on social media—employers can use this data to track productivity trends across their entire workforce.

For example, tracking employee computer activity will alert employers to any user that isn’t adopting new software tools. With that information in hand, they can work the employee to address any underlying issues (lack of training, hesitance to use new tools, etc) and work towards a solution. 

From a cyberloafing management perspective, the activity monitoring reports clearly show the sites visited and the applications used throughout the workday, providing valuable insights into the behaviors of your most and least productive employees. 

You can use these insights to understand how your top performers structure their workdays so you can provide a similar structure to employees that are struggling.

Conversely, activity monitoring and employee monitoring software can be used to help identify employees who may be overstressed, working long hours, and taking on more than they are responsible for. 

By identifying the hardest working employees on your team, you can look to support them with additional team members or opt to reward them for their efforts. Having productivity reports for your best workers will further help with evaluating your workforce and will help to justify your decisions for employee advancement throughout the company.

Another way that monitoring employee activity could be beneficial to you as a manager is through your ability to monitor the time spent on certain tasks. If employees are challenged with a new project you will be able to monitor their progress and help them if they are struggling.

5) Improve Productivity of Remote Workers

Remote Employee Monitoring Software - Productivity, Security, Analytics

The rise in popularity of a remote workforce has created new challenges for companies across a wide range of industries. The Coronavirus isn’t the only reason that many businesses have adopted remote work strategies for their employees as there are many benefits of working remotely.

One of the most important benefits of a remote workforce is the fact that employees often become more productive when working from home, according to a Stanford study

The study found that by saving employees from having to spend long hours commuting to work, businesses received a boost in productivity that is equivalent to a full day’s work. Remote workers involved in the study also took shorter breaks, used fewer sick days, and took less time off in general.

That said, not all employees will perform at their best when working from home. With time tracking and activity monitoring solutions in place, companies can improve visibility into how remote workers spend their time during work hours.

Remote employee monitoring software creates accountability and a granular line of sight into employee activity during work hours. The software will also provide peace of mind for management as productivity reports can be readily downloaded to gauge a remote work team’s performance and productivity.

6) Automatic Time Tracking to Monitor Employee Breaks

Idle Time Tracking - How active are your employees? CurrentWare

Across most lines of work, employees are allocated breaks so they can regain energy and focus. Whether it be a coffee break, a lunch break, or a rest break, allowing employees to take a step away from their work helps to avoid fatigue and improves productivity. 

But similarly to allowing employees to browse the internet for personal use while on company time, work breaks can be taken advantage of. The 30-minute lunch break can often be extended to 45 minutes, and the morning coffee break can end up being a full-blown analysis of last night’s game between colleagues.

Employee productivity monitoring software provides a detailed analysis of a worker’s computer usage and can be used to identify workers who are taking prolonged breaks. If a computer is idle for a suspiciously long period of time, managers will be able to analyze this data to determine whether or not the individual was working or taking excessive breaks from their work.

You can protect your company from this productivity risk by installing employee monitoring software on your devices. These computer usage and time tracking tools will allow you to monitor employee idle time to ensure that rest times are not being abused. 

7) Improve Productivity of Struggling Employees

Application Tracking - Save Money on Unused Software

New web tools and applications in the workplace create a healthy learning and growing environment for employees in the workplace. Asking your team to learn how to use new resources and learn new skills will help them individually and will increase the quality of work that your company produces.

However, with these new challenges comes a learning curve that can vary from one worker to the next. Some may be more skilled with one application and less skilled with another. Each individual will have to learn at their own pace, but being able to help those that are particularly struggling will be a great benefit. 

Employee monitoring software that can report on the applications and computer use of employees is a highly effective tool that managers should leverage when looking to help struggling employees. If a worker isn’t using productivity-boosting applications when working on a project, that is often a sign that they are still struggling to get a hang of things.

In many cases, workers may be hesitant to approach their manager and ask for assistance, fearing judgment and perhaps being too embarrassed to do so. Managers with application and computer use reports generated by employee monitoring software can approach their workers one on one to help uncover what it is that they are struggling with, and can work to put an action plan in place to help them get on track. 

Helping employees learn new skills is fundamental for company growth. When you use employee monitoring software to monitor employees in this way you can empower them with the resources they need to be successful. Doing so will improve the quality of work and increase productivity throughout your company.

Things to Consider Before Installing Employee Monitoring Software

Before you decide to install employee monitoring software on your devices, there are a couple of important things to consider first.

Expectation of Privacy

workplace privacy—what are your rights?

Depending on the country, state, or province that your business is located, the legal limitations and requirements regarding employee privacy rights will vary. However, there are general best practices that apply within most regions.

These general best practices include:

  • Transparency: Employees must know that they are being monitored, why they are being monitored, and how their employers will use their data. In some jurisdictions, they may even have the right to access their data.
  • Purpose: Employee monitoring should have a specific and legitimate business purpose (monitoring for security risks, time tracking, legal requirements, etc). The use of monitoring data should be limited to the stated purpose.
  • Least Invasive: Surveillance should be limited to what is required to meet the businesses’ goals without excessive infringing on an employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Data Security: Employee data must be treated as sensitive information and protected accordingly against unauthorized use and disclosure.

Respecting the privacy of your employees should be fundamental when developing your computer monitoring strategies, and when considering which monitoring tools should be purchased. When employee tracking goes too far, there can be legal consequences for the employer to face.

Free White Paper

Employee Monitoring: Best Practices for Balancing Productivity, Security, and Privacy

In today's privacy-conscious world employers need to monitor employees in a way that is transparent, minimally invasive, and respectful of employee privacy. Read this white paper to learn the best practices for monitoring employees in the workplace.

Create an Acceptable Use Policy for Computer Use

Paper document that says "Internet Usage Policy"

Given that the internet is essential to most businesses, creating an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a critical first step to improving the productivity of your company.

Within your company’s AUP, be sure to clearly state what is acceptable in regards to the websites workers can visit and the applications that they can use while on the job. To further emphasize the importance of acceptable internet use in the workplace, be clear on the consequences that will occur if employees choose to neglect the AUP.

With the expectations clearly stated within your Acceptable Use Policy, it will be even more important to enforce the rules. Without properly and fairly enforcing the AUP, employees will likely fail to recognize the importance of proper internet and computer use.

Before you look to monitor employee internet and computer usage, create a thorough Acceptable Use Policy and share it with your team so that they can be aware of your standards and expectations.

Within this policy (or a separate Workplace Monitoring Policy) you must include a statement regarding your intention to monitor employees in the workplace. Providing this information is essential for establishing privacy expectations with your employees.

Free Sample Template:
Employee Internet Usage Policy

Download this FREE acceptable use policy, customize it,
and distribute it to your employees to set a precedent for the acceptable use of the internet in the workplace.

Conclusion

Employee monitoring software is an essential tool for ensuring security and productivity in the workplace. 

The best employee monitoring software provides reports on a variety of computer activity metrics. These reports allow employers to monitor employee computer usage to ensure that their internet activity is in support of the business and that security policies are being followed.

Employers that want to use computer monitoring tools to monitor user activity must be aware of the laws and regulations of their jurisdiction before monitoring can commence. These laws will often require activity monitoring to be as minimally invasive as possible, done with the full awareness of each user, and with significant protections in place for their employees’ user activity data.


FREE TRIAL: BrowseReporter Employee Monitoring Software

“The employees find the reports to be an extremely helpful self-analysis tool, and use the reports to analyze and reconfigure priorities!”

Ready to get started with employee monitoring? Reach out to the CurrentWare team for a demo of BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s employee and computer monitoring software.

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.