Most of employees work on computers today; therefore computer monitoring technologies became widely engaged into everyday monitoring practice. Managers are the ones responsible for employees’ performance, proper workload, deadlines to be met, discipline in the office and so on. These are a few of many reasons why managers come to the idea of employee computer monitoring. Engaging computer monitoring in the everyday business practice is a decision that requires good understanding of many aspects related to it. It is a very responsible decision. Read below how to make things right when implementing employee computer monitoring in the workplace.
When using employee computer monitoring technologies, it is important to take into consideration the fact that monitoring is a pretty sensitive area. Why is it so? Because there are certain concerns related to employee computer monitoring:
1. Employees’ Privacy
2. Legal Aspects of Employee Computer Monitoring
3. Data Protection
4. Choosing the Proper Monitoring Software
5. Healthy Inner Environment in the Workplace
Employees’ Privacy is an integral part of the monitoring process. Computer monitoring software keeps track of many employees’ activities during the whole working days. Employees might spend their working time for private matters; they may access Internet banking services, medical assurance sites, write private messages or perform any other personal activities. And all these activities might deal with personal or sensitive data, which in turn deals with an employee’s privacy. So, when implementing an employee computer monitoring system, make sure to take care about employees’ privacy. This includes:
1. Choosing of proper monitoring software (refer to Choosing the Proper Monitoring Software topic of this article)
2. Having proper data protection (refer to Data Protection topic of this article)
Legal Aspects of Employee Computer Monitoring
There are various legislations in different countries and Monitoring Laws vary depending on the country or state. But despite all the differences, there are certain regulations and recommendations that are common according to professional lawyers:
1. Identify Goals and Reasons of Monitoring in order to avoid unnecessary monitoring;
2. Choose the Proper Software according to your needs;
3. Announce the Fact of Forthcoming Monitoring to the Employees;
4. Provide Clear and Understandable Policies;
5. Get Employees’ Consent;
Also here are some important definitions from the lawyers:
Personal Data means any information, which can be used to identify an individual. Inappropriate or illegal use of such data may lead to breaching of the law.
Sensitive Data is a type of personal data, which in turn is about an individual’s: health or financial details, biometric information, religious preferences, racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, sexual orientation, philosophical beliefs or criminal history. (According to Data Protection Commissioner, Miriam Wugmeister’s works, Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring, and many others). Incorrect use of sensitive data may cause legal problems as well.
Following the above advises helps to implement monitoring properly, achieve your business needs and monitor in accordance with the law at the same time. So, when applying employee computer monitoring in the workplace according to the law:
1. Get familiar with all the functions the software offers. Are there any spying functions?
2. Announce the fact of forthcoming monitoring to employees
3. Provide Policies
4. Get Consent
For more information about using Employee Monitoring Software refer to
Legal Aspects of Using Employee Monitoring Software
Data recorded during computer monitoring process might contain personal or sensitive information, so then arises another concern: Data Protection. It is quite important to keep all the recorded data safe in order to protect employees’ privacy. The access to database should be regulated indeed. Only certain people have to be allowed to access it. There are different ways of storing databases, the main of them are: online storage and local server storage. Incorrect and unsafe data storage may lead to data leakage. Also all the data must be password protected and encrypted. So, here is the data protection list of questions for your monitoring software producer:
1. Where are the monitoring results stored?
2. Are there security settings for controlling the access to reports?
3. Is database password protected?
4. Is data encrypted?
Choosing the Proper Monitoring Software
In order to make the right choice, it would be good to understand the difference between various types of computer monitoring software, which can be divided into two ones: Employee Performance Monitoring Software and Spyware/Spying Software that have completely diverse purposes and principles of monitoring. Below are detailed explanations of both:
1. Employee Performance Monitoring Software is computer software, which monitors activities and data that affect performance level. Such monitoring software is for performance monitoring purposes only; and it does not deal with any personal or sensitive data. Such functions as: attendance monitoring, log in/out monitoring, user login name monitoring, computer name, active/idle time monitoring, website URL monitoring, social network URL monitoring (name and path only) are included into employee performance monitoring software.
2. Spyware/Spying Software is such software that “spies” on somebody’s privacy by collecting and processing personal or sensitive data. Such monitoring software might be basically good for spying on person or for investigation purposes, as it collects personal information. It has nothing to deal with performance monitoring and may infringe on the rights of personal privacy. It is recommended to consult the lawyer before using spying functionality. Such functions as: keystrokes logging, screen/email/chat/social media/ websites/documents & files/print content monitoring may contain personal and sensitive data, which in turn might infringe on personal privacy.
To choose proper employee computer monitoring software:
1. Define set of functions that you require for achievement of your business needs
2. Make sure you do not have any “against the law” features in your list
3. Create the list of questions for employee computer monitoring software producers (refer to the above topics: Data Protection, Legal Aspects of Employee Computer Monitoring) to make sure that software you buy is in accordance with the law, data is safe and employees’ privacy is protected as well.
Inner Environment in the Workplace
When using employee computer monitoring, there is the way of maintaining a healthy inner working environment at the same time. Employee computer monitoring is a lot about balancing; about being fair to your business, yourself and your employees; about moving your business forward and still being honest to the people who work for you.
This white paper provides general information only. This information is for general understanding only and not to be used as legal advice. To receive professional legal advice, please consult your lawyer.