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Study: Almost 50% of monitoring tools track employees without their knowledge

This is known as stealth mode.

Allie Nawrat

employee monitoring tools
Credit: MAZZAFABIO via Twenty20.

Unleash Your WorkforceHow else are tracking tools invading employees’ privacy?

Employee monitoring tools were already becoming increasingly popular before the pandemic.

But with the rise of remote working – and many employers wanting to know how their employees spend their working day and to secure people data – the use of employee tracking technology has become the norm.

This acceleration in the implementation of employee tracking tech has brought up many questions about what precisely employers are monitoring and how intrusive are the tools themselves?

To answer this, StandOut CV dug into the capabilities of the 32 main employee monitoring tools, including Teramind, StaffCop, CleverControl, InterGuard and HubStaff.

The study found that 93% of the tools track the time spent on certain tasks, 75% took screenshots of screens, carried out real-time activity monitoring and tracked website and app usage throughout the day.

Also, 66% tracked browsing history, 69% monitored idle time when employees were away from their desk, 59% watched keyboard and mouse movements and 44% monitored contents of emails, as well as who staff were emailing.  

Further to this, 9% of the tools can record audio from the employee’s device and 22% can monitor them via camera or screen recordings.

StandOut CV also found that 47% of the tools used by employers did so under stealth mode, which means “your boss can monitor you without you knowing”.

The study also found that Teramind was the most invasive tool because the only capability it did not offer to its 4,000 employer customers was GPS tracking of employees. Only 19% of all tools offered this capability to their clients.

StandOut CV concludes that these findings are particularly concerning because while the tools aim to check employee activities at work, “they often record everything, meaning your boss could be seeing any and all of your passwords, as well as personal messages” – this brings up a ton of privacy issues.

“There is also a concern at the location data employers can track using monitors, potentially providing employers with not just an ‘approximate’ location but an Uber-esque insight as to where you are at any given time.”

 Finally, “the issue with audio and visual monitoring being the personal conversations or scenarios that could be caught on ‘tape’, even after an employee has finished for the day.”

Talking about the findings, Andrew Fennell, founder and director of StandOut CV, commented: “It is concerning that so many of the tools we analyzed could provide employers and managers with private audio, visual and text-based information.”

“To keep people safe we’d recommend checking your employee handbook for information on the companies monitoring policies, to understand what they are (or aren’t) collecting.

“Additionally, as a general rule based on the results of our analysis, people should look to separate their work from personal devices and personal use from work devices.”

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