A Wisconsin School of Business study reveals that employees tend to drift away from their tasks and spend time cyberslacking. The researchers estimated that workers waste about three hours a week to two and a half hours a day on non-work-related internet activities. Meanwhile, according to Udemy research, throughout the day, around 60% of employees check their social media accounts. Of course, cyberslacking can be a serious productivity killer that can also affect the overall profitability of a company.
However, that’s not the only problem that may result from workforce internet usage. For any type of business, access to the web can be a security risk. According to Intermedia’s 2017 Data Vulnerability Report, 99% of employees commit potentially dangerous actions when they access the Internet in the workplace. These actions include sending corporate files to personal emails and sharing work login credentials. That’s why it can be crucial to monitor internet activities of your employees.
Why It’s Important to Monitor Internet Activities of Employees
Most businesses invest in monitoring internet activities in the workplace to determine if employees are productive. Now, you may wonder why observing how people access the web during office hours is such an important issue. Well, that’s because wasted time incurs billions of losses for most companies.
An Engagement Institute survey revealed that US businesses lose $550 billion because of disengaged employees. What’s more, a 2012 Salary.com survey reported that two-thirds of 3,200 respondents access the web for non-work-related activities.
However, productivity loss is not the only reason why using employee internet usage monitoring software is essential. Your company can achieve the following:
Avoid Violence in the Workplace
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of American adults experience bullying at work. With instant messaging and emails, it’s easier for employees to intimidate or threaten their colleagues. When you monitor corporate communication channels, you can intercede before a minor conflict escalates into violence. Consequently, you can foster a safer environment, especially for other employees who are not directly involved in the issue.
Have Legal Evidence for Potential Lawsuits
Uncontrolled access to the Internet can also result in lawsuits. Let’s say employees pass around a sexually suggestive video in the workplace. Well, this could be seen as the company condoning such behavior. In the case of Lipsett v. University of Puerto Rico (1988), the jury issued a verdict in favor of Lipsett. While there were no actual physical sexual acts performed against the complainant, her male colleagues plastered their rest facility with sexually explicit materials. This type of harassment can also happen in the workplace—even with geographically distributed teams. By managing file sharing within your network, you can find pieces of evidence that can be used in a sexual harassment case.
Secure Vital Data
Monitoring internet activities can also be part of your organization’s User Behavior Analytics (UBA) program. As we’ve mentioned, access to your network can also be a security risk. Now, if you monitor employee web usage, you can protect your organization against data leaks. Employees have access to documents that contain proprietary information or trade secrets. If one of them becomes disgruntled, they may use their web access to distribute the data to your company’s competitors. When you use employee internet usage monitoring software, you’re able to determine your workforce’s surfing patterns. This way, you will be able to spot any suspicious behavior among your employees.
Tips on Monitoring Internet Activities in the Workplace
We’re all focused on the benefits of online monitoring. However, we must not forget that it is not without faults. When employees find out that they will be observed, they will feel like their employer is spying on them. Their initial perception is that their company doesn’t trust them. When you monitor websites visited by employees, it’s natural for people to feel resentful or discontent. Therefore, it is important to carefully plan how you’ll implement online monitoring in the workplace. Here are some tips we recommend:
If you decide to monitor employee web usage, you need to tell people what you’re about to do and the reason behind it. By being transparent, you can diffuse resentment and encourage them to cooperate. So, explain the dangers that organizations face when employees misuse their internet access.
Create a Policy for Internet Use
Before you even begin monitoring internet activities, you should have a written policy in place. The document must clearly state the responsibilities and rights of the staff and employer when it comes to web access. Moreover, the policy should provide details about workers’ personal time online during office hours. There should be acceptable rules for instant messages, emails, internet activities, and social media. Besides, the policy should explain how you will implement employee monitoring and how you will store, secure, or destroy the collected data.
Choose the Right Employee Internet Usage Monitoring Software
There are plenty of products on the market that offer employee monitoring capabilities. Naturally, you’d want a product that comes with several features and integrations. However, just because a monitoring tool is packed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is ethical. Some tools may come with keyloggers and unreasonable screen capturing capabilities.
Remember that while it is legal to track and analyze your team’s web usage, you’re still responsible for keeping the practice ethical. As we’ve mentioned, you need to ensure that your employees have full knowledge of the monitoring process. They should know that the organization did not put the system in place to invade their personal space. Instead, it is to ensure a productive, compliant, and safe workplace.
What to Avoid When You Monitor Employee Web Usage
Managing web access in the workplace has been around for several years, and the practice differs from one company to another. Unfortunately, most of these methods are flawed. Here are some practices you should avoid:
Banning Internet Access
Indeed, internet access is a major distraction in the workplace. However, it is still crucial for most business processes. If you’re running a modern organization, then your operations are likely online-based. You may need to communicate with clients over the web or use digital payment systems. Since we’re significantly dependent on the Internet, banning it entirely is out of the question. Indeed, you will be able to reduce distractions in the workplace. However, you’re also restricting your business operations.
Blocking Specific Sites Entirely
Another way companies manage web access is by blocking sites like YouTube and Facebook. However, there are various reasons why this method is unreasonable:
There Are Other Distractions in the Workplace
YouTube and Facebook are not the only time wasters in the office. Your employees may access other websites that will draw them away from their tasks. If you try to manually identify and block these sites, it may take you forever to do so.
Employees May Need Social Media Access
If one or two of your workers are involved in digital marketing, then they will need access to social media sites to fulfill their duties. These days, Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn are crucial in helping companies reach their target audience.
Remote Workers Use Their Personal Devices
Are you managing remote employees? If so, then it’s likely that they’re using their personal computers for work. It won’t be reasonable to limit their access to specific sites like Facebook and YouTube. Doing so would also mean restricting their personal life too.
Using Monitoring Tools Secretly
It’s common for companies to covertly monitor their employees’ web activities. The workers aren’t even aware that their actions are being watched. Some of the tools used here include the following:
● Video Loggers – These tools secretly take screenshots or video recordings of a person’s computer screen.
● Keyloggers – These programs track and record every key that an employee presses. So, even if the employer is not recording screens, they can still know what their workers are typing. This means that they will be able to read private messages and passwords.
How to Monitor Employee Web Usage Ethically
Your monitoring process should
● be transparent,
● respect the privacy of users,
● analyze productivity,
● improve distraction management,
● be easy to follow, and
● still provide flexibility and freedom to employees.
Fortunately, there is one time tracker that ticks all the boxes.
Use Traqq for Monitoring Internet Activities Ethically
Traqq is a user-friendly yet feature-rich time tracker that you can use to monitor your employees’ internet activities. This tool helps organizations ensure that every minute they pay for goes to productive work. Even so, unlike with other employee monitoring methods, both employers and workers enjoy using Traqq.
Ensure Productivity Among Employees
Are you worried that your team’s spending most of their time cyberslacking? Well, Traqq has various features for ensuring that your workers stay productive throughout the day.
App and Website Monitoring
Once Traqq starts running, the tool will monitor websites visited by employees. It will also observe the apps they use throughout the day. On the dashboard, the app will display a user’s top ten visited websites and apps. This way, you will know what activities eat up the biggest chunks of their billable time.
Usually, a company’s reasoning behind using a keylogger is to ensure productivity. In reality, recording keystrokes is not necessary for boosting team efficiency. The developers of Traqq understood this, which is why they opted to monitor activity levels instead. The tool monitors how active a user is based on its keyboard and mouse movements. Even so, it does not record every key that they press.
Protect Employee Privacy During Online Monitoring
Employees will understandably become disengaged when they learn that their internet activities will be monitored. After all, no one likes the idea of an employer spying on them. With Traqq, this won’t be a problem. This is a tool designed specifically for productivity monitoring and not for spying.
Blurred Screenshots and Video Recordings
Indeed, Traqq still takes screenshots and video recordings of a user’s desktop. Even so, the employee monitoring app intentionally reduces their quality. The recordings and screenshots are blurred to an extent that prevents sensitive information from becoming legible. So, an employer will only get an idea of what a person is working on at a given time. They won’t be able to read private messages or passwords.
Full Control Over Recorded Time, Screenshots, and Video Recordings
There are many ways Traqq promotes ethical employee monitoring, one of which is by giving employees full control over their data. They get to choose when the app will monitor their internet activities. If they want to browse social media sites, they can turn off the tracker and it will stop logging their time. What’s more, employees can delete any screenshot or video recording that they deem would compromise their privacy.
Choose a Better Way to Manage Your Team’s Internet Usage
With employee internet usage monitoring software, you’ll get valuable insights into your entire organization’s productivity. Managers will get a better way to identify top performers along with the behaviors that make them successful. Even so, employers should remember that there is a dark side to employee monitoring. When overly and secretly done, it can be considered as spying on workers. Of course, this can be damaging to their morale and productivity. So, it is important to choose a time tracker that offers ethical monitoring.
Sign up for a free Traqq account today to discover why it’s a cut above the rest.