Employee working time monitoring software

For remote workers

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I run a fully remote practice with all employees working remote from their homes. We provide all work equipment so installing a software should not be an issue (employees will be made aware of it). We trust that majority of employees are putting the work/time in, however have recently experienced a situation where the employee is not really doing the hours/work they should.

Coudl anyone recommend a software which would assist us to track/monitor employee screen time/work, i.e. to ensure they actually do the work during the hours they are contarcted to. 

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By FactChecker
01st Mar 2024 11:46

You are potentially walking into a minefield ... despite what the vendors will tell you, it's not just a matter of 'making employees aware of it'.

The history of such software confuses the original T&A systems with modern spyware.

Early Time & Attendance systems usually had a mechanical component that monitored / logged the individual's entry / exit from the building (or in more sophisticated systems their transit through internal doors and therefore where and when they'd visited). The focus here was on physical security (with a nod in the direction of helping to comply with Fire regs in an emergency).

Some of these morphed into pure software that performed the same function with regard to measuring stop / start of work - but via the login/logout on a PC (which of course isn't necessarily the same as times for starting / stopping work that day). As a result, some staff took to arriving early and, after logging-in, going out to do the shopping before work ... and similar subterfuge at the end of the day.

Then came the key-logger variety of software, which can track exactly WHAT the employee is or isn't doing via the keyboard - and when and for how long. But, aside of the invasion of privacy issues (and there are a lot of court cases on that), that doesn't tell you whether 'gaps' are for non-keyboard work or loo-breaks or general skiving ... and any attempt to combine this approach with CCTV is akin to declaring war on your employees (if working on your premises) and, to put it mildly, inadvisable within the employee's home!

Although that's a very cut-down history, it illustrates the two key issues ... that the problem is a lack of trust (possibly justified) in the honesty and work ethic of your employees - and that any attempt to solve this via 'technology policing' is not only unlikely to actually work, but more likely to lead to abuse by disgruntled staff.

As you will have gathered I am strongly opposed to such systems (on both moral and practical grounds), despite having developed some of the earlier versions, but it's your business and your choice. Good luck either way.

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By free-rider
01st Mar 2024 11:57

Thank you for your response - very useful.

I am probably better to be looking for something that monitors keyboard/mouse activity (I know there are ways around it, but don`t expect my employees to use these on everyday basis) - think a well known franchise is using something similar to monitor working from home.

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Replying to free-rider:
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By Jane Wanless
01st Mar 2024 12:19

How does monitoring keyboard/mouse activity help? There's work that doesn't involve either (online meetings/phone calls/reading/research/training etc)

Funny - I was speaking to someone yesterday and this sort of thing had been introduced disastrously. Efficient employees spent too much time form-filling to justify their time on phone calls etc and both "good & bad staff" resented it resulting in terrible morale. The only upside was in identifying where there'd been a lack of training/support.
Having to justify where there were budget overruns proved to be more effective - and also identified lack of training without having to pay for additional software.

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By Roland195
01st Mar 2024 12:22

At the end of the day, if the only way you can monitor the output, efficiency and productivity of your employees is by looking at how often they move their mouse, then it suggests bigger problems.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
01st Mar 2024 12:45

You've identified someone not getting the work done that they should without it. You should focus on how you did that.

I've worked at places that used such software in the past, and they are terrible for morale. They are ineffective for the determined slacker, who can fake activity, whilst penalising good workers doing work related tasks that aren't covered by the program.

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By tom123
01st Mar 2024 12:58

I can see your problem - but I couldn't work under that kind of surveillance.

It's no different to bringing in "back to work interviews" after sickness etc. The genuinely good staff are aggrieved. The skivers are unaffected.

I wouldn't do it. Find another way to deal with your poor performers. Maybe remote working isn't the right way for your organisation.

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By Hometing
01st Mar 2024 13:02

With all due respect, this is an employment arrangement I would avoid like the plague.

If you don't feel trusted as an employee, job satisfaction suffers.

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By AlgernonB
01st Mar 2024 14:04

A sure fire way of losing a laggard employee, and all of the efficient ones as well. Speak to your employee, ask them if there's anything wrong. There may be a problem you aren't aware of- family illness, mental health or boredom with the work. None of them are worth losing an employee over.

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Replying to AlgernonB:
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By FactChecker
01st Mar 2024 14:19

Or to put it more bluntly:
- if they're worth losing, then lose them;
- if not, then enforcing 'Big Brother' won't improve matters.

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By free-rider
01st Mar 2024 15:35

Thank you for your input - very valuable.

Decided to abandon idea of monitoring activity and instead concentrate on deliverables/meeting deadlines as a way of evaluating performance.

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Replying to free-rider:
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By FactChecker
01st Mar 2024 15:52

Yay ... and good luck.

Don't forget to allow some time at the start for reviewing the way in which the deadlines are set (new processes always need review, partly to fine-tune them and partly just to get everyone on-board) ... AND to create a non-judgemental channel for staff to feedback when (and why) a deliverable may have changed or become likely to be late.
That last bit is critical if you want not only to motivate the staff but actually to learn where your quotes/processes could be improved and/or to optimally manage client expectations.

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