Ever since employee monitoring software made its way into the business world, and especially since its popularity started to skyrocket, a lot of questions have been raised concerning the legality of employee computer tracking, which has mostly been resolved in favor of the affirmative answer.

The second question that the use of such a system raises is the one about ethics. And this one is much harder to get a grip on.

The truth of the fact is that employee tracking software can propel your company to success and get your employees to be more productive, but using it requires extra care and consideration. This is because the software allows you to do so many things, such as monitor apps and websites used, track time spent on tasks, take screenshots, and so on.

Basically, a couple of wrong steps and this useful system can turn into a monitoring software spy.

So here’s the list of signs to look out for if you want to know whether you’re inadvertently spying on your employees:

1. You’re Monitoring Your Employees Secretly

Although not technically illegal in some cases, monitoring employees’ computer activities without previously telling them about it is pretty much equivalent to spying on employees.

It might seem like a great idea at first - if your workers don’t know they’re being monitored, they won’t be under additional stress, their performance won’t be affected, and they won’t complain. However, this is a superficial and temporary view of the situation.

Aside from the fact that your employees might eventually find out about this software spy computer, the power of employee monitoring software lies in the fact that you can use the data it collects to improve performance. If your employees have access to this data, it becomes that much more powerful.

In order to avoid ‘computer spy monitor’ scenario, you should always talk to your employees before implementing the software, explain what it’ll be used for, listen to their opinions and answer their questions. That’s the necessary first step towards ethical monitoring.

2. You’re Tracking Computer Activity After Hours

Another clear sign that you’re focused on how to spy on employees more than you should be is the fact that your tracking software stays on after official working hours. This includes monitoring employees during their break times.

This is an especially serious concern if your employees happen to take their work laptops home.

If your goal is to be ethical when it comes to monitoring, one thing you shouldn’t do is use spy PC programs when employees are home or on a break and using their computers for private matters. If you’re worried about corporate data, you can restrict employees’ access to them outside working hours or employ some other method that would eliminate the need for monitoring during that time.

3. You’re Collecting Private Data

Just as serious of an offense as monitoring employees during their time off work is tracking, collecting and storing their private information. This means using spy remote monitoring software on their private social media channels, email and messaging platforms, bank and other private accounts.

This means that if your employees happen to log into their bank account over their corporate computers, you shouldn’t use your screenshot feature to see their balance. Likewise, don’t use advanced tracking features like keystroke monitoring to discover their social media passwords.

This kind of behavior is not only considered spying, but is also very likely illegal because it’s a direct intrusion on employees’ personal privacy.

4. You’re Not Using the Data for Business Goals

Finally, probably the most important distinction between ethical and unethical monitoring is why you’re doing it in the first place and how you’re using the data you gather.

Everything you do needs to be done with a specific justified reason in mind. You might be tracking productivity in order to make employees more efficient or monitoring app usage to see which software is worth investing in. What you shouldn’t do is monitor something just for the sake of monitoring. If any piece of data doesn’t have its designated place within your business improvement strategy, you shouldn’t consider it as a valid metric and you shouldn’t hold it over your employees.

Using a feature just because you have it can easily sidetrack you into spying, so always ask yourself ‘Why am I measuring this?’ before you start collecting data.


Computer monitoring software is a great addition to your company that will enable you to do amazing things, but it can also be misused if you don’t think about the whole process carefully. Spying on your employees is an unethical and often illegal approach to running a business, so make sure you don’t turn monitoring software into a tool for doing this.

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