Ever since it became a widespread business trend, computer tracking software has witnessed just about any kind of reaction. As a business owner or an executive, if you decide to buy an employee monitoring software such as Workpuls, you’ll get a lot of benefits - data on everyone’s performance, increased control over files and assets as well as informed data-driven ideas on how you can optimize your business processes.


On the other hand, though, implementation of a monitoring system isn’t exactly going to be your employees’ favorite work policy. Instead of a totem for business and performance improvement, they’re much more likely to see it as computer bugging software whose only task is to spy program computer activities for no apparent reason.


So what happens when you try to implement this software without telling your employees about it? Well, considering its increasing popularity and the fact that at least some of your employees are going to have suspicions, the question is bound to arise either way: Does my boss monitor my computer activity?


And where there is curiosity, there’s also the resolution to get to the bottom of it. In other words, your workers might as well try to find out whether you spy employee monitor screens or track their activities. But can they actually do it?


Before we answer this question, let’s turn quickly to the law and ethics in an attempt to discover whether you can even monitor your employees without their knowledge in the first place.


Legality and Ethics of Undisclosed Employee Monitoring


The question of whether this form of employee control is legal has long been resolved in favor of the affirmative answer. But although the legality of monitoring employees in the workplace is an open and shut case, the law is much more complex, protective of employees and different across countries when it comes to doing it secretly.


In fact, some countries make it mandatory to notify employees about monitoring while in others you even have to ask for consent. But even if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to operate in one of the countries that allow you to practically spy on computer remotely, there’s still the issue of ethics looming just around the corner.


We’ll discuss the issue of right or wrong a bit later, but for now it will suffice to ask yourself this question: If I were an employee, would I like to know whether my employers track my computer activity? If the answer is yes, let’s see how you could go about finding that out.


How to Detect Employee Monitoring Software and Can Your Employees Do It?


Regardless of how advanced technology is nowadays, no computer program is almighty (yet). So even if you decide to use your monitoring software in stealth mode, its activity will still be visible on every computer it’s running on.


Of course, it will be far from super obvious like an open window or an active and visible widget. It’s more along the lines of being one of the running processes or having to be white-listed in antivirus programs and firewalls. In both of these cases, they’ll be one of many other processes and they won’t have a transparent name (like ‘Workpuls’ or ‘monitoring software’) but an employee would have to google for the decryption of whatever they find.


Having said this, it’s blatantly obvious that, in order to know how to check for monitoring software on a computer, your employees will need a lot more technical know-how that most average people. And also quite a bit of patience.


So, the final answer is - yes, a sufficiently competent employee could in theory discover even the best computer spy software if they put their mind (and a bit of time) to it.


And now it’s time to circle back to ethics.


Why They Shouldn’t Have to Bother


The general advice is - even if you’re confident that none of your employees are capable of discovering the software, and you know that, even if they were, there’s no such thing as ‘anti monitoring software’, you still shouldn’t make them try. In other words, although there might be some pros and cons of using the stealth mode, you should always consider telling your employees about monitoring first.


This open and straightforward attitude promotes transparency and builds a better relationship with your employees in the long run. Sure, you might get a slight backlash at first, but explaining what you’ll be monitoring and why, as well as answering their questions and listening to their concerns, will ultimately result in acceptance and respect for the fact that you had the decency to inform them when you didn’t legally need to.


Conclusion


The borderline is - keeping your employees’ trust deserves more priority for concern than whether or not they can discover your stealthy monitoring software. The benefits and improvements resulting from using the software will come anyway, but the company culture is what you should be striving to protect when you’re faced with the decision on how to implement employee monitoring software.


Workpuls Teramind ActivTrak Hubstaff DeskTime Time Doctor RescueTime Kickidler Veriato Work Examiner
OVERVIEW
Price $6/user/month $6/user/month $7.20/user/month $7/user/month $7/user/month $9.99/user/month $6/user/month $9.99/user/month $150/licence/year $60/licence (lifetime)
Free trial 7 days 7 days No 14 days 14 days 14 days 30 days 7 days Yes 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Very easy Easy Easy Very easy Very easy Very easy Very difficult Easy
TRACKING METHODS
Unlimited (tracker working 24/7)
Fixed (defined working hours)
Automatic (when computer is connected to a specified network)
Manual (start/stop)
Project based (track time only on projects)
GENERAL MONITORING FEATURES
Stealth mode
App and website usage
Real-time monitoring
Offline time tracking
Attendance
Activity levels
Keylogger
Geolocation
Remote desktop control
Website/activity blocking
SCREENSHOTS AND RECORDING
Screenshots
Screenshots on demand
Screen recording
PRODUCTIVITY FEATURES
Productivity trends
Websites and apps labeling
Category labeling
Productivity alerts
ADVANCED SECURITY FEATURES
User behavior analytics
Data loss prevention
Advanced file and web monitoring
REPORTING
Productivity reports
Team reports
Timelines
Email reports
Access management
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
Mobile app iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android Android
Browser extension Chrome Chrome Chrome
Other Citrix, VMware Chrome OS
OTHER
Support Phone, email, online Phone, email, online Phone, email, online Email, online Phone, email, online, in-person Online Phone, email, online Email, online, Viber, Whatsapp Phone, email, online, support ticket Phone, email, online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations comming soon
API
Deployment cloud, on-premise cloud, on-premise, AWS, Azure cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud on-premise cloud, on-premise on-premise
Kronos Humanity Timeclockplus Tsheets Wheniwork Deputy Replicon Jibble EbilityTimeTracker OnTheClock
OVERVIEW
Price (per month)Available upon requestFrom $2 per userAvailable upon requestFrom $6.40 per user + $16Free for up to 75 usersFrom $2.50 per userBasic plan: $30 for 5 users + $5 per additional userFrom $1.50 per employeeFrom $4 per user + $8From $2.20 per user
Free trial30 days14 daysYes14 days14 days14 days30 days
Ease of useDifficultEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasy
FEATURES
Timecard management
Scheduling
Shift Trading
Timesheets
Break time management
Real-time tracking
PTO Management
Payroll
Invoicing
Client billing
GPS tracking
Clock out reminders
Alerts
Manual time
PUNCH-IN METHODS
Web app
Mobile app
Time clock device
Time clock kiosk
Facial recognition
Fingerprint scanning
Geofencing
Group punch-in
REPORTING
Visual reports
Email reports
Time rounding
MANAGEMENT
Permissions
Manager approvals
Add time for others
Integrations
PLATFORMS
Web
Android app
iOS app
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
OTHER
SupportPhone and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, chat and onlinePhone and chatEmail and onlineChat and phonePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Community forum
API
Workpuls Hubstaff Toggl TimeDoctor Harvest TimeCamp Timely Everhour Tick TMetric
OVERVIEW
Price (per month) $6 per user $5.83 per user $9 per user $9.99 per user $10.80 per user $5.25 per user $99 for 5 users $7 per user $19 for 10 projects $5 per user
Free trial 7 days 14 days 30 days 14 days 30 days Yes 14 days 14 days 30 days 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Difficult Very easy Easy Very easy Easy Difficult Very easy Difficult
TIME TRACKING METHODS
Manual
Start/stop buttons
Automatic time mapping
IN-DEPTH TASK AND PROJECT ANALYSIS
Screenshots
App and website usage
Activity levels coming soon
Real-time tracking
TASK AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project adding
Project templates
Project status
Task assignment
Task priorities
Budgeting coming soon
Mark billable/non-billable hours
Payroll calculation
Invoicing
ALERTS
Idle time reminders
Deadline alerts coming soon
Budget alerts coming soon
REPORTING
Client login
Productivity analysis
Email reports coming soon
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app coming soon
iOS app Beta
Android app
Browser extension Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge
OTHER
Support Phone and online Email and online Email and online Online Online, email and phone Email, online and support ticket Email and chat Email and chat Email Chat
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations coming soon
API
On-premise hosting

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