What does the rise of intrusive tools such as employee surveillance software mean for workers at home?
A new study shows that the demand for employee surveillance software was up 55% in June 2020 compared to the. From webcam access to random screenshot monitoring, these surveillance software products can record almost everything an employee does on their computer.
VPN review website Top10VPN used its global monitoring data to analyze over 200 terms related to employee surveillance software.
It took into account both generic and brand-specific queries for its study which compared searches during March-May 2020 with internet searches in the preceding year.
Global demand for employee monitoring software increased by 108% in April, and 70% in May 2020 compared with searches carried out the preceding year.
Queries for "How to monitor employees working from home" increased by 1,705% in April and 652% in May 2020 compared with searches carried out the preceding year.
The surge in popularity of such an open-ended phrase like this reveals how unprepared many companies were for the abrupt shift to mass home-working.
The most popular surveillance tools are Time Doctor, Hubstaff, and FlexiSPY. The tools with the biggest increase in demand include Teramind, DeskTime, Kickidler, and Time Doctor, with interest for the latter tripling compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
The top three tools account for almost 60% of global demand in surveillance software because of the range of features offered.
Of the most popular employee monitoring tools, 81% offer keystroke logging so that employers can see every click of the keyboard.
Over three in five (61%) provide Instant Messaging monitoring so that private instant messages can be viewed. Employers could also monitor how employees' conversations are going at any point in time.
Two in three (65%) can be configured to send User Action Alerts such as noticing when the keyboard has been idle for a set amount of time, and 38% are capable of remote control takeovers such as blocking access to websites, or remote installation of software.
One package, NetVizor claims, operates "entirely in stealth; that is, it's nearly invisible to the consumer."
The radical shift away from office-working has clearly made employers nervous about a reduction in productivity and its potential impact on their business. Greater surveillance, however, may actually reduce long-term productivity.
Your boss watching your every move may make you less productive in the long run and could significantly impact your feelings about the company itself.