The usage of various monitoring software in the workplace has skyrocketed in the past 12 months. The industry saw steady growth in the past few years, but since the pandemic started the demand and usage reached completely new heights.
PC monitoring software is a powerful tool. It can monitor your employees’ app usage, websites they’re visiting, and even record their screens and access documents on USB drives.
And just because the software allows you to get all this information, it doesn’t mean you should. That’s why we’ll discuss monitoring employees’ internet usage – why you should do it, which behavior can be tolerated and how to set appropriate boundaries.
Why Monitor Employees’ Browser Usage?
Most businesses use web-based applications for their daily activities. Think about your meeting platforms, project management tools, email, calendars – almost everything you do is accessible from the browser of your choice.
Therefore, monitoring employees’ browser usage, seeing which websites they’re visiting, and for how long is essential when tracking their productivity. But, we all know that internet browsers open a portal into the world of distractions and even potentially harmful websites.
Using a PC monitoring software to track browser usage as well can help you see patterns in productivity, but it can also help you see which web-based professional platforms are being used, and how.
Also, your company’s most important information is probably easily accessible through a shared cloud – leaving you exposed to insider threat. Monitoring software can help you prevent and discover any potentially harmful behavior coming from the inside of your organization.
What Should You Expect From Employees’ Internet Usage?
Before you start monitoring employees’ online behavior and start reprimanding them for improper use, think about what’s acceptable to your organization when it comes to internet usage.
You should have a clear internet usage policy, that contains general guidelines about which activities are and aren’t allowed on company-owned devices, how your employees should approach the company’s sensitive information, and so on.
Once you have all that, you should include a section about your PC monitoring software – what will it track exactly (full URLs or website names only), what will be considered productive and unproductive, how will this data influence employee reviews, etc.
Maybe you could even use a website blocker software to block out websites that aren’t appropriate in the workplace. But, don’t go to an extreme, blocking everything that’s not work-related, because your employees still need to take a break, and they’ll probably want to spend it online.
Where’s the Boundary in Internet Monitoring?
If the country where your employees are located has specific laws setting boundaries on what you can and can’t monitor – follow those guidelines. However, most regulators are yet to catch up to the trends, so we recommend that you use common sense if the regulations don’t exist.
Don’t monitor internet usage in a way that it could collect personal information from your employees. For example, it’s okay to monitor social media websites in a sense where you see in the dashboard that your employees spent X amount of time on them. But, it’s not okay to take screenshots while they’re on those websites.
If your PC monitoring software has a screenshot feature, we recommend that you use it carefully, and only have it turned on on work-related websites.
If you want to monitor your employees’ activities, especially their online behavior, you have to tread lightly and make sure you don’t cross the line over to unethical or illegal practices.
When you aren’t sure about something, think about whether you’d like it if someone monitoring your computer and internet usage in such a way. If your answer is no – you probably shouldn’t be doing it to your employees either.