July 14, 2023

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10 min read

Top 25 concerns employees have about monitoring in the workplace & how to avoid them

This article is put together by the WorkTime team of employee computer monitoring experts. In this article, you'll learn: - The top 25 concerns employees raise about workplace monitoring. - How to monitor work computers and ensure that your employees feel confident about their privacy.

Monitoring in the workplace - tools & legal side

Monitoring in the workplace is legal in the U.S., Europe, Australia and many other countries. Employers have the right to monitor company-owned computers and employee productivity to protect business interests. Employee computer monitoring software is one of the most commonly used surveillance tools for this purpose.

What's on the market

The employee monitoring software market offers an array of choices. However! Most of the software providers of this competitive market are focused on quantity and not quality. They want to add as many features to the software as possible without considering whether these functions are useful or not. Most of these "extra" features end up being too invasive or violating employee privacy. Besides, many of these features may not even be great for your monitoring goals. Before implementing employee monitoring software, it is essential to have clearly defined business goals. Also, steer clear of any monitoring software that offers spy-like functionality. A spy-like functionality is a feature that can record private information about your employees — for example, keystrokes or screenshots. If your monitoring goals include staying informed about the use of computers, software, and employee productivity, then none of those mentioned above spy-like functions will achieve this and you 100% don't want this kind of software when applying monitoring in the workplace.

The main worry of employees

Employees have a lot of questions about computer monitoring in the workplace. Yet, their privacy is the main concern. Employees are concerned about being secretly spied on. They're also worried that something private will be recorded and revealed as a result of the monitoring. These concerns especially arise when it comes to video surveillance and monitoring of private devices. So, what other top concerns do your employees have?

Top 25 concerns employees have about their privacy in the workplace

Here are the top 25 questions employees have about monitoring at the workplace and answers to these questions. Feel free to use this article to explain to your employees how the workplace monitoring technology works in general and how it is being used in your company in particular.

1. Can my employer spy on my home computer via Citrix/Terminal/Remote Desktop sessions when I work from home?

A: NO, your employer cannot spy on your home computer through Citrix/Terminal Server sessions. Remote Desktop, Citrix, and Terminal server sessions are not designed to access your home computer. You do not need to worry about being spied on your personal computer via a remote desktop session. To monitor your home computer or a personal laptop, your employer has to obtain access. Access is required to install some kind of computer monitoring software. Remote desktop sessions do not grant any access without permission. Also your employer is not allowed to monitor your home computer without your consent. The only what can be monitored is your work within the Citrix/Terminal session. This is what you do at your work computer. But whatever you do outside of the session at your personal home computer or your laptop cannot be monitored.

2. Can my employer see me at home via Citrix, Terminal, and Remote Desktop sessions?

A: NO, your employer cannot see you at home through the Citrix/Terminal Server or Remote Desktop sessions. The way this technology works, it is not possible in general. In order to use your video camera access is required. Neither Citrix nor Terminal sessions have this access. It is basically the same idea as in the #1.

3. Can my employer monitor my personal computer or laptop?

A: In general, the answer is "NO". This concern often arises when people work from home. To monitor your personal computer or your personal laptop, your employer has to obtain access to install a workplace monitoring software. Please refer to #1. The idea is the same.

4. Can my employer spy on my personal phone?

A: NO, your employer cannot spy on your personal phone. Your employer must obtain access to your personal phone to be able to monitor it. Also, your employer is not allowed to monitor your personal phone without your consent.

5. Can my employer spy on my personal phone or laptop when connected to the company's WIFI?

A: NO, your employer cannot spy on your personal phone or laptop even when using the company's WIFI. Please refer to #1, 2. The idea is the same. Your employer can track what websites you are visiting via the company's WIFI (the URLs), not the content or passwords. Anyway, these days, data is usually encrypted using HTTPS and TLS protocols which protects your data.

6. Can my employer see messages on my personal phone?

A: NO, your employer cannot see messages on your personal phone. Unless there is a video camera focused directly on your phone screen or your boss is watching over your shoulder. Remember, some people still rely on old monitoring ways. Otherwise, please refer to #1, 2. The idea is the same.

To employers and managers: about the questions #1-6 - whatever workplace monitoring software you use, none of the above can be monitored without obtaining access to a personal employee computer, phone or laptop. Your employees do not need to worry about it.

7. Can my employer monitor my Citrix, Terminal, and Remote Desktop sessions?

A: YES, your employer can and has the right to monitor your Citrix, Terminal, and Remote Desktop sessions. We mean to say, your employer can monitor what is going on within the session itself and not on the device where the session is executed. What is used within the session is executed on the workplace computer.

8. Can my employer monitor my work computer?

A: YES, your employer is in a position and has the right to monitor the company-owned computers. Employers expect their employees to use computers provided by the company for work purposes and be productive during work hours. This is why employers implement monitoring in the workplace and monitor use of company's computers.

To employers and managers: about the questions #7,8 - employers can and have the right to monitor workplace computers either they are used directly or via Terminal/Citrix sessions. When applying monitoring in the workplace make sure the monitoring software you use does not violate employee's privacy.

9. Can my employer monitor me from a work computer through a built-in camera?

A: YES, your employer can monitor you from a workplace computer through a built-in camera. To do this, special monitoring software has to be installed on your computer. Although this is not a common practice, some employers in the US do this. How do you find out if you're being monitored with this little in-built camera? Just stick some chewing gum (or scotch tape) to your computer camera. If your employer doesn't talk to you about how important it is to keep this "little eye" clear, he's probably not monitoring you. To employers: you can't imagine what people do in front of their computers when they think nobody is watching! You just don't want to see it.

To employers and managers: about the question #9 - if you want to make sure your employees use their work computers there is no need to go this far and monitor via video camera. Workplace monitoring software offers active/idle time monitoring function which is non-invasive.

10. Can my employer monitor my private messages on work computers and in remote desktop sessions?

A: YES, your employer can and has the right to monitor everything in the Citrix, Terminal, and Remote desktop sessions and on work computers. Refer to #7. The idea is the same.

11. Can my employer monitor my personal accounts?

A: YES, your employer can monitor your personal accounts. As explained above, whatever you use on the work computers, can be monitored. If your employer uses workplace monitoring software that captures keystrokes, then any content can be monitored. Also, speaking of your personal social network accounts, your employer can simply open them in a regular way.

12. Can my employer monitor my personal passwords?

A: YES, employers can monitor employees’ personal passwords if the passwords are used on company's computers or in Terminal/Citrix sessions. Again, when it comes to monitoring in the workplace, employers have the right and can monitor company's computers, phones and other company's devices. The idea is explained above. When using your password on your personal computer, laptop or smartphone, your employer cannot monitor your passwords without obtaining access to your personal device.

To employers and managers: about the #10-12 - to keep your employees' privacy protected, WorkTime experts do not recommend using a content (keystrokes) monitoring function. Productivity, attendance, active/idle time monitoring etc. are the non-invasive functions helping to improve employee productivity without infringing on employee privacy.

13. Can my employer monitor my direct Slack messages?

A: YES, employers can monitor employees’ direct Slack messages if Slack is used on company's computers or in Terminal/Citrix sessions. If your employer uses the monitoring software that catches keystrokes, then yes, it will record your direct Slack messages. Otherwise your Slack direct messages privacy is protected.

14. Can my employer track me with GPS?

A: Employers can and are allowed to track with a GPS company's computers/laptops, phones etc.

15. Can my employer see my internet activity on my personal phone?

A: NO, if your personal phone is not connected to the company's WIFI or if you did not grand any access to your personal phone to your employer. If your personal phone is connected to the company's WIFI the chance that your internet traffic is monitored is not very high, even though it can be done at least to the level of monitoring which IP addresses you use. If you did grand access to your personal phone and have a monitoring software installed then your internet traffic can be monitored.

16. Can my employer record audio at the workplace?

A: Yes, employers generally have the right to make audio recordings within the workplace, utilizing devices such as laptops, computers, or even phones. While this practice is not exceedingly common, some employers employ it strategically to reduce unproductive periods.

17. Can my employer access my personal email account from my work computer?

A: Yes, an employer can access a personal email account through a work computer. It should be recognized that the work device belongs to the employer, and therefore, the employer has both the legal and technical ability to access the email account.

18. Can my employer record the contents of my device screen?

A: No, your employer cannot record content from your device because they cannot do so without direct access to your device.

19. Can my employer view files on my personal device?

A: No, an employer cannot view files on a personal device without direct access to it.

20. Can my employer make audio recordings during non-working hours?

A: Yes and no. If the device belongs to you and you haven't provided it to your employer, it is unlikely that they have the ability to implement software to record audio without your knowledge. However, if the device belongs to your employer and they provided it to you, they could have installed the necessary software before giving you the device, enabling them to record audio.

21. Can my employer listen to or record my phone conversations?

A: No, the employer cannot listen to your phone conversations, as doing so would violate your personal confidentiality. Additionally, the employer would require direct access to your device in order to install a program that can listen to or record phone conversations. If the device belongs to you, the employer does not have the capability to do so.

22. Can my employer implement covert monitoring?

A: Yes. If the device belongs to the company, the employer has the technical ability to covertly install monitoring software and conduct surveillance. However, if the device belongs to you and is always within your reach, there is no way for the employer to covertly monitor you.

23. Can my employer listen in on my phone calls made from my work-provided device?

A: Yes, if your employer has provided you with a device specifically for work purposes, such as a company-issued phone, it is possible that they have the ability to monitor or listen to calls made from that device. That's why it is advisable not to make confidential phone calls from your work device.

24. Can my employer view private messages on my personal device?

A: No, an employer cannot view private messages on a personal device, as the employer would need direct access to the employee's device in order to do so.

25. Can my employer track my bank transactions and banking information?

A: No, the employer cannot trace bank transactions and other transactions as they would need access to your bank account, which you may or may not provide to the employer.

Avoid employees' concerns with the right monitoring software

As soon as privacy is the main employee concern when it comes to the monitoring in the workplace, we recommend using the software designed strictly for productivity monitoring, the software that keeps employee privacy protected. When it comes to implementing employee computer monitoring software, there is a comprehensive list of recommendations on managing employee monitoring in your workplace, ensuring a stress-free environment, and protecting employees' privacy. (Get this free eBook from WorkTime to read more about it.) We are happy to say that WorkTime is the only pure productivity monitoring software on the market. It offers non-invasive functions essential for monitoring computer, software, and internet use, as well as employee productivity. With WorkTime you'll know productivity of your employees' screens without revealing what's on the screens.

With WorkTime you'll know how productive your employees' screens are without revealing what's on the screens.

If using WorkTime to run monitoring in the workplace, employers know exactly how productive their employees are, how much are they active or idle, how good is their attendance. And again, all of it is without capturing screenshots, recording keystrokes, messages or chats content. Monitoring in the workplace is effective and safe with WorkTime!

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for general understanding only and not to be taken as legal advice. For example, if your employer is the CIA, we cannot guarantee you anything. Additionally, please consult your lawyer to seek professional legal advice.

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