When the COVID-19 pandemic came in full swing, millions of employees were forced to work from home. Naturally, companies tried to look for ways to ensure that their remote team members were not loafing around. After all, a Robert Half Technology report said that companies lose 4.5 hours per week, per employee due to time theft.
Within weeks, the demand for time tracking and employee monitoring software surged. While many questioned the thorny privacy issues that came with the system, others have found ways to trick the tools they’re using.
After all, it’s human nature to outsmart tech that threatens their daily routine.
Even if you know how to monitor your employees’ computer activity, you should never let your guard down. You would be surprised to discover what people can do to cheat time tracking software.
Have you or your colleagues ever tried to trick a time tracker?
Bet you haven’t tried them all! Read on to find out which ones actually work!
Cheat 1. Automating Mouse Movement
This may seem ridiculous and unbelievable, but people can automate mouse movement with a battery-operated toy. They attach the toy to their mouse and let it drag the peripheral around. As a result, they fool their monitoring tool into detecting mouse movement or activity.
With a quick glance at the report, you would assume that your employee had been doing something productive. In reality, they’ve just found a way to deceive the employee monitoring system. But once you review the screenshots, you will understand what’s happening.
This is the reason why it’s important to have a tool that also has a screen monitoring function.
By letting the app take random screenshots, you will have solid proof of what your remote team members are doing at a particular moment.
Cheat 2. Using a Window as a Red Herring
Some people find a way to watch videos while faking productivity on their monitors. What they do is open a full-screen window of the content they want to watch. Then, they launch another window for a work-related program.
For instance, they could watch episodes of Game of Thrones, and over that window, they’ll have Excel, Word, or CRM opened. The second window will act as a ‘red herring’ that will distract the monitoring tool and trick it into detecting activity.
The user will keep that window as small as possible to prevent it from obscuring the other screen containing the video. At the same time, the tracker will record the small window’s productive activity.
With Traqq time tracking app, you will be able to identify if your employee is using another window as a distraction. This monitoring app has smart algorithms that identify activity levels based on mouse and keyboard movements.
So, even if your employee uses a ‘red herring,’ Traqq will determine whether there is actual work-related activity on their device.
Cheat 3. Taking Advantage of a Second Monitor
A lot of people find it efficient to use a dual-monitor system. For them, it is easier to have everything they need right in front of their eyes instead of constantly hitting ALT+TAB to switch windows.
However, not many employee tracking tools capture screenshots and collect data from both monitors. Some people who are aware of this take advantage of the loophole.
On their primary monitor, they have all their work-related apps opened. Meanwhile, on the secondary monitor, they’re browsing through Facebook or shopping on Amazon.com.
As such, you should choose a professional, high-quality monitoring app that can cover dual-monitor systems. This way, there will be minimal chances of your employees tricking you.
Cheat 4. Timing the Screenshots
Most monitoring apps have a screenshot feature. However, some people have figured out that there’s a particular interval between the shots.
So, what they do is time this period and cheat the system by pretending to work at the exact moment of the screen capture. Once the tool takes the shot, the employee goes back to being unproductive.
With this in mind, consider getting a monitoring system that doesn’t rely on screenshots solely. You should choose a tool that provides you with a visual representation of your team members’ activity levels.
This way, even if they cheat the screenshot feature, they won’t be able to misrepresent their overall productivity.
If you’re worried about your employees figuring out the pattern of the screenshots, use Traqq. This tool was designed to take random screenshots and videos. This way, your employee won’t be able to time and prepare for them.
Cheat 5. Using Remote Access
Using two separate computers may seem tedious, but some people are willing to go to great lengths to trick monitoring apps. What they’ll do is install the time tracker on their work computer.
On this device, they will set up a remote access client and connect it to their second PC. They can play a game, shop online, or watch videos and still be considered ‘productive’ by the monitoring tool.
After all, time trackers tag the use of a remote access client as work-related.
For instance, Traqq lets you track the websites and apps that your employee uses. Now, if you notice that they keep running a remote access client for no reason at all, you can call them out for it.
Cheat 6. Tampering with the Software’s Code
Some tech-savvy employees can go to the extent of tampering with a monitoring app’s code. If they have the right skills and tools, they can customize it to identify and track certain activities only.
We’re not saying that this is easy to achieve and anyone can do it. In reality, it is extremely challenging. Even so, we cannot rule out this possibility.
If you suspect that something like this happened in your organization, you should contact the monitoring app’s support department.
They will be able to identify the issue and fix it for you. So, when selecting a time tracker, make sure that their customer service team is reliable.
What’s more, you should use a time tracker with a sophisticated and strong encryption system. Traqq contains military-grade encryption (Rijndael CBC 256-bit), which protects the data from tampering.
While a hacking scenario is possible, it would take highly sophisticated tools and exorbitant resources before anyone could crack the app. Your employee has to be richer than Tony Stark to pull this stunt off.
How to Prevent Your Remote Employees Cheating at Work
While most employees are diligent and trustworthy, there may be instances where some individuals try to cheat the system. To prevent remote employees from cheating at work, here are a few strategies and tips to consider:
- Establish clear expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations regarding work hours, deliverables, and performance standards. Set specific goals and deadlines to keep employees accountable.
- Regular check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins with remote employees to discuss their progress, challenges, and goals. This helps maintain open lines of communication and allows you to gauge their productivity.
- Use time-tracking tools: Implement time-tracking software or tools that can monitor employees’ active hours and track their work progress. This can provide insights into their daily activities and identify any discrepancies.
- Encourage collaboration and teamwork: Foster a sense of camaraderie among remote employees through team-building activities and collaborative projects. This creates an environment where employees rely on each other’s contributions, minimizing the chances of cheating.
- Provide resources and support: Offer the necessary resources, tools, and training to help remote employees perform their tasks effectively. When employees have the right support, they are less likely to resort to cheating.
- Trust but verify: While trust is crucial, it’s essential to verify employees’ work to ensure accuracy and quality. Conduct occasional spot checks or reviews to assess their work and identify any potential cheating.
By implementing these strategies and maintaining regular communication with remote employees, you can help prevent cheating and ensure a productive and trustworthy remote work environment.
Unproductive Employee: 10 Red Flags Your Remote Employees Are Wasting Their Work Time
- Lack of initiative can be a sign of disengagement and decreased productivity. The Gallup State of the American Workplace report found that only 33% of employees feel engaged in their work.
- According to a study by Email Analytics, the average email response time during work is 3.5 hours. Any response time significantly exceeding this benchmark consistently may indicate unproductivity.
- Negative feedback from colleagues or clients: If an employee receives consistent complaints or negative feedback from coworkers or clients, it signifies potential issues with productivity, quality of work, or collaboration.
- Inconsistent working hours: If an employee consistently logs in fewer than 80% of their designated working hours or frequently changes their working schedule without prior notice, it may indicate poor time management.
- Lack of communication or participation in team discussions: If an employee has not made any contributions or engaged in team discussions for more than two weeks, it could imply disengagement or a lack of involvement.
- Excessive use of non-work-related applications or websites: If an employee spends more than 30% of their work time on non-work-related websites or applications, it suggests a significant diversion of attention from work-related tasks.
- Lack of initiative: If an employee has not taken on any new responsibilities or initiatives in the past three months, it could indicate a lack of motivation or engagement.
- Frequent absence from virtual meetings: If an employee misses more than 20% of scheduled virtual meetings or arrives late to meetings more than 30% of the time, it may indicate a lack of engagement.
- Consistent low-quality work: Remote employees consistently delivering work that falls below expected standards, requiring frequent revisions or additional resources to rectify errors or deficiencies.
- Poor time tracking and reporting: Remote employees consistently failing to accurately track and report their work hours, leading to discrepancies or inconsistencies in time logs or project time allocation.
Most Time Trackers Are Problematic
Employees can easily find simple and creative ways to cheat their time trackers because most of these apps are flawed. Here are some of the common issues you’ll find in popular employee monitoring tools:
They Don’t Have Real-Time Tracking
Wrike, Basecamp, FreshBooks, and Harvest also track time. However, these web-based programs require users to rely on their memory when recording the time they spend on a task. People have to estimate, which can lead to inaccurate time tracking. Aside from that, managers have no way of ensuring the credibility of their employees’ reports.
They Don’t Classify Manually Added Time
While Toggl has real-time tracking, it does not distinguish between what the app recorded automatically and what employees added manually. Without knowing this information, managers won’t be entirely certain if the tracked time is accurate.
Now, this can be a real problem, especially since a QuickBooks survey reports that one in two employees admit to adding between 15 to 60 minutes to their timesheets.
By the way, if you’re looking to just manually enter work times into timesheets, these four time tracking spreadsheet templates can be huge time-savers! Just download them and start using for free.
They Don’t Give Managers an Idea of what a Person Is Doing
A lot of time tracking apps don’t let managers verify what a person is doing at a given time. Let’s take RescueTime as an example. It does monitor web and app usage, but managers still end up guessing the activities of an employee.
Meanwhile, a time tracker like Traqq eliminates all the guesswork. It takes random screenshots and video recordings, giving managers an idea of what a person is doing at a given time. In the next section, we’ll discuss why Traqq is the time tracker that any employee cannot cheat.
Choose Traqq – a Foolproof Monitoring Tool
As an employer or manager, it’s only natural for you to worry about your remote team members being productive. So, make sure to choose a monitoring tool that cannot be deceived.
Well, you will be delighted to know that Traqq offers a foolproof method of tracking your work-from-home employees’ activities. It has monitoring features that will help you understand what they’re doing, thus motivating them to increase their efficiency.
It’s common knowledge that browsing social media sites and shopping online can kill productivity. Too often, a few swipes can turn into hours of wasted time. Checking important notifications can be forgiven, but managers must know when it’s becoming a problem.
Traqq can help determine if employees are spending too much time on non-work-related applications that may distract them from completing their tasks.
Traqq takes note of the web pages that a user visits during work hours. Moreover, it monitors the amount of time they spend on each site.
Aside from that, Traqq will record traffic from the applications on your employee’s computer. You can let the tool generate a report where you can review all the data collected at a single glance.
Now, if your employee attaches a moving toy to their mouse, you will see that they are spending too much time on the same program. You can view Traqq’s video playback and determine if the employee has been inactive for a couple of hours yet their output remains the same.
You’ll also be able to spot if they’ve been using the ‘red herring’ window trick or if they’re playing a game through a remote connection.
Traqq’s Anti-Cheating Algorithm
We understand why managers would be doubtful about the efficiency of a monitoring tool. After all, over the years, remote workers have become cleverer and more creative when it comes to cheating time trackers.
However, you should put your trust in Traqq. Our developers equipped the app with an anti-cheating algorithm.
You may have heard of “power clicking”. It is when a user repeatedly clicks their mouse to simulate high desktop activity.
Well, with Traqq, your employees cannot do this. The app’s anti-cheating algorithm nullifies redundant mouse movements, ensuring that the recorded activity levels are accurate.
Your Employees Won’t Feel the Need to Cheat Traqq
The problem with most time trackers is that they were designed to be intrusive. Naturally, people feel like they’re being micromanaged or spied on.
Well, with Traqq, this won’t be a problem because we intentionally designed it to perform ethical online monitoring.
Let’s say a person’s mind drifts off while Traqq is running. Of course, if there’s no desktop movement, the monitoring tool will report that as low activity. In this case, the person won’t have to cheat the tracker just to push their activity levels higher.
All they need to do is delete the recorded period to ensure that it won’t affect their stats. Aside from that, your employees have the freedom to delete screenshots that may compromise their privacy.
What You Can Do to Prevent Employees from Cheating Their Time Tracker
When we designed Traqq, we exhausted all possible means to prevent users from cheating the tool’s tracking feature. However, keep in mind that any monitoring tool can only do so much.
As an employer, you also need to do your part. Sometimes, employees feel the need to cheat because they are overwhelmed and pressured by all the monitoring you do.
Instead of micromanaging your team, why don’t you give your employees some space? Remember that you’re working with actual human beings and not robots. It is only natural for them to get distracted or to hit a slump from time to time.
So, if you notice that they spend some time surfing non-work-related sites, just let them be. Five minutes of personal web browsing won’t hurt their productivity. Sometimes, they will need this short break to refresh and get back to their efficient self.
If you want to try the features of Traqq, you’re in luck! This free time tracking app for macOS and Windows is downloadable at no cost. You can access all its features for free. Contact the Traqq team today to start using this foolproof monitoring app!