Common Types of Employee Monitoring for Companies
Employee monitoring is a term that can apply to a number of different areas in relation to the workforce. Hours worked are monitored so that costs are kept down on overtime or for other reasons. It is not uncommon to see video cameras mounted in most places where money is transferred or valuable assets are worked with on a regular basis. Employee monitoring also entails keeping an eye on how company computers and smartphones are being used.
Many companies handle large amounts of sensitive data on a regular basis. In the electronic age it is becoming difficult for some to keep client lists, employee information or trade secrets confidential. The ways that employees use the company’s computers can have a huge impact on whether or not the company’s network is infected by inadvertent malware or a virus. Employees might use email or other electronic means to intentionally leak secrets.
In addition to the benefits of monitoring company computers for security purposes, monitoring employees on company computers also involves knowing how productive employees are when using company resources. Workers might be goofing off on the web, or they might be using bandwidth to steal music and video from pirated sources. Data entry, transcription, medical billing and other performance based computer usage is monitored for the words that workers type per minute to measure how valuable any given employee’s time is.
Here are common types of employee monitoring which companies use to keep an eye on their workers while they are using company computers.
Some companies do not rely heavily on company computers to get most of the work done, but it is important that the computer is available for certain important tasks. Direct monitoring would involve keeping computers in an open location at the place of business so that anyone nearby would have a good idea about how that computer is being used. Another method of direct monitoring involves hardware that keeps logs of keystrokes.
Many businesses keep up with the traffic that comes and goes on their network. This involves a firewall or router that notices the addresses and content that is transmitted or received over the company’s network. Network monitoring can pick up on when a computer is infected if it is found to be making Internet requests that are out of the ordinary or frequently redundant. Network monitoring will also pick up on who is accessing which files and how those files are altered and transmitted. Companies with Wi-Fi access points will often have their own network zone that operates as a firewall for any guests that log on.
Many companies have their own website and email hosting services. Correspondence from workers at the company usually come and go from firstname.lastname@example.org or something similar. This makes it easy for outsiders to verify that the correspondence is official, but it also means that companies are responsible for how workers portray themselves when using company email. A company that hosts their own email server will monitor that server to see the comings and goings of mail to and from their company. Many companies will also cut down on bandwidth and security risks by filtering out spam before it reaches the in-boxes of any of their workers.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
Large companies will use what is called a VPN which allows for access to company files only by those who are logged into their system. A VPN is a little like a website that contains all of the files and programs that workers use, and workers then access that website for their files and applications from wherever they are working from. This allows for system-wide security of the files while providing access for workers to contribute their part when handling company information. VPN administration will run regular maintenance and backups and monitor the network for any irregularities or security breaches.
Software monitoring solutions such as Net Orbit are services that allow businesses to review logs of their workplace computers from a web portal from anywhere with an Internet connection. A company that signs up for a Net Orbit account then installs the software monitoring tool to each of their company computers. Software monitoring works across platforms on Windows and Mac computers and will even give accounts for Android smartphones and tablets. The software will update logs to the business’s Net Orbit account so that the employer can review screenshot histories, file changes, website logs, messenger application contents and even determine the location of their company computers and laptops through IP or GPS validation.
Every company utilizes different tools for monitoring depending on the company’s size and the dynamics of how much technology is used in their place of business. Whenever any monitoring policies are in place, it is important for employees to be aware of monitoring practices in the company handbook and also should sign off on acknowledgment of the procedures and guidelines whenever they are issued a company device or computer.