As the trend of remote and hybrid work continues to rise, employers are increasingly seeking ways to monitor their employees' activities to ensure they actually ARE working when remote. With the emergence of "quiet quitting" turning into "Bare Minimum Mondays" and "Try Less Tuesdays," some individuals are taking advantage of remote work as an opportunity to put in less effort.

Of course, not all remote employees are slackers – but how can an employer know the difference? That’s where tools like Teramind and ActivTrak come into play. These are software solutions that monitor employees' workstations and laptops, both in the office and remotely.

Not only will these tools provide insights into productivity and where employees are spending their time, an employer can also see when someone checks in to work and leaves for the day. These apps can also help in ensuring employees aren’t surfing inappropriate websites during work hours using company resources.

While many people are against monitoring, it’s perfectly legal in the US, provided this is for work-related activities on workplace devices. Monitoring laws do vary by state, so you should always check with an HR attorney on any employee-related monitoring. While there is no requirement to gain consent on a federal level, some states require that you establish consent before monitoring.

Employers can legally monitor company-owned devices outside of work hours, allowing them to track internet traffic, search history, website visits, GPS geolocation, and content accessed, among other things. If employers provide their employees with company-issued phones, they are legally permitted to monitor those devices as well. Furthermore, if a "bring your own device" (BYOD) policy is in place, employers may monitor employees' personal devices if they are used for work-related purposes.

If you are considering implementing employee-monitoring software, here are a few recommendations.

1. Be Transparent.

Let your employees know you WILL be monitoring them, and how, before rolling out any monitoring activities. Being totally transparent about what you are monitoring and why is important to establishing and maintaining trust with your employees. Most people would be very upset to discover you were monitoring them without their knowledge. While it’s legally your right (in most states) to monitor without letting them know, we feel it’s best to be open about this so they understand what’s being recorded.

2. Write Out Your Rules.

Outline in writing what is allowed and what is not during work hours and on company-owned assets. If you don’t want employees visiting what you deem as inappropriate websites and mixing personal activities with work activities on company-owned devices, let them know that. If they work from home, set guidelines such as start and end times for work and how long and how frequently they can take breaks, detailing when they need to be available (at work).  No one likes getting a speeding ticket when there’s no speed limit signs posted. Be absolutely clear on your expectations and put them in writing so there’s no risk of “You never told me that…” happening.

3. Talk To Your Lawyer.

Get legal advice before implementing any kind of monitoring software, cameras or activities. Laws change all the time – and with our increased concern with data privacy, collaborating with an HR attorney to make sure you’re not violating anyone’s rights the smart choice.

Did you hear about the $17 billion lawsuit the famous fast-food chain, White Castle, was hit with recently?

The reason? They were using fingerprint login software for their employees to access certain systems. The lawsuit claims they violated Illinois’s biometric identification laws by asking employees to use their fingerprint as a secure way of logging in to their systems without first gaining consent.

Even though it’s legal to monitor employees, you still need to be mindful of employment laws and data and privacy protection of the employees you monitor.

Need help implementing a more secure and productive remote workplace? Click here to schedule a quick call to discuss your options and to get ideas on how we can help you and your entire team be productive and safe, no matter where or how you choose to work.

About the Author

Marty Parker

Marty Parker
Owner & General Manager

Marty is the Owner and General Manager of Heritage Digital. Marty has managed and built high-performing IT teams for over 30 years. He served 13 years in the manufacturing industry and 13 years in corporate-owned healthcare organizations. Before acquiring Heritage Digital, Marty was the Chief Information Officer of Carolinas Hospital System (now MUSC Health Florence Medical Center) in Florence, SC. Marty is passionate about educating and protecting people against cybercriminals.