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Is Remote Employee Monitoring Software Right For Your Distributed Team? 6 Pros and Cons

When you're managing a team, one of your most critical objectives is to operate at peak efficiency. Often, that leads teams to consider remote employee monitoring software. Remote employee monitoring software, which runs in the background of your team computers, takes screenshots, tracks app usage, and monitors internet activity.

There are a lot of questions that come with this kind of remote management:

  • Will my employees think I don't trust them?
  • Will the data gained actually drive change?
  • Will adopting this tool hurt productivity?
  • How will this impact company morale?

Overall, there are a few critical things to understand before choosing this type of software, especially if your goal is to make your team more productive.

Remote Employee Monitoring: The Pros And Cons

When your employees feel good about their work and feel connected to their team, they're more productive, period. That's why adopting remote employee monitoring software isn't necessarily the solution you're seeking if you want to improve productivity or morale.

However, like any tool, there are advantages and disadvantages.


1. Better Data And Insights Into Team Productivity

Remote employee monitoring software gives you the data you need to gauge how effective each of your team members is. You can get better insights into how much time is spent on deliverables and tasks. This data can be crucial in planning budgets and putting together proposals.

You can also get a clearer picture of the blockers that prevent your employees from doing their best work.

2. More Accurate Time Tracking

Due to the nature of many time tracking tools, team members can edit time or submit estimates, rather than running a timer. With remote employee monitoring software, there's no guesswork with time tracking or payroll. Many come with automatic payroll calculators, so you can see exactly how much time workers are spending on their projects and pay accordingly.

With better time tracking, you can also understand how efficient your team is and how profitable your organization is.

3. Sets Boundaries Between Personal and Professional Time

In an open office setting, employees tend to do less personal business on company time. At any moment, someone could tap them on the shoulder, or see what's on their screen. With remote work, that accountability isn't there.

However, when employees know there's remote employee monitoring software in place, they're more focused and mindful of what they're doing and what's distracting them. It can drastically improve their time management and efficiency.


1. Employees Feel There's A Lack of Trust

When you decide to use remote employee monitoring software, a lot of team members may feel there's a lack of trust. Although it's normal for team members to occasionally take a break and browse Twitter or check your bank balance, when they feel like big brother is watching, they'll just feel awkward.

Even if you're not crazy about employees doing those types of things on company time, as long as team members are pausing timers and not billing that time, it shouldn't be an issue. It's also important to note that in some states, you're required to notify employees when you're monitoring web activity.

2. Team Morale Can Dip

While teams may become more productive with remote employee monitoring software, morale will probably dip. Employees will feel pressured not to take breaks. They'll stop having non-work related conversations with other team members, which can actually help foster better communication and collaboration.

To be fair, it may not detract from team morale if you explain the reasons behind your decision. You can offer incentives for productivity and effort, using the system to track that information. But regardless, expect your team to be wary. Some team members will be flat out upset that it's becoming a part of your process.

3. Could Create Culture Challenges

Despite going in with good intentions, investing in this kind of software may even take your culture in the wrong direction. Instead of improving focus, people may feel micromanaged or watched, which may be even more distracting. Eventually, this will hurt your team productivity, and it may also lose you some employees.

In time, team members may become accustomed to the monitoring and open to it, but in the short-term, there is the risk of a significant shift in how your team feels about work.

Going Beyond Remote Employee Monitoring To Improve Productivity

Remote employee monitoring exists for a pretty simple reason. It's difficult to gauge productivity when you're not working in the same space as your team. Even with the best time tracking and project management tools, there is always the distance that can cause a lot of friction in day-to-day work. With new technology coming out, eventually, remote teams will be working more in a virtual environment where this won't be an issue.


Published by High Fidelity July 23, 2019

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