Your boss could be ‘spying’ on you while you’re working from home, study claims

New research by StandOut CV has examined a range of employee monitoring tools that some bosses could soon start using to track your productivity levels while you’re working from home

With many businesses making the switch from office working to home-based working, it makes sense that managers would want to check up on their employees to ensure they are still doing their jobs and not slacking off on the sofa.

And it seems in today’s world there are a number of different monitoring tools they can use to do this.

Recent results from a YouGov study found that one in five companies are actively considering implementing – or already have started using – employee monitoring software to remotely track how productive staff are being.

As such the experts at resume service, StandOut CV, decided to conduct further research into these tools to find out exactly what information bosses can gather from ‘spying’ on workers.

Their study has found that through the use of monitoring software, employers could potentially be able to track your browsing history, take screenshots of your screen, track your GPS location and even record audio and video from your devices.

According to StandOut CV, 94 per cent of the top employee monitors track an employee’s time and activities at work, often through self-reporting or in the form of activity monitoring of what tasks are being worked on.

In addition to the time and activity tracking, 75 per cent of the top employee monitors analysed were found to be taking screengrabs or screenshots of employee desktops.

Though many of the trackers make a point of suggesting these are within set times and trigger actions, they do not reveal what a trigger might be, or even if they have a safety measure should someone use their work device for personal use on days off.

Despite the memes about people nudging their mouse or hitting keys to “appear” to be actively working, StandOut CV’s research found just 59 per cent of employee monitors collate and report on keyboard and mouse movements, however, 44 per cent do report on keystrokes.

In addition to the ‘main’ monitoring points, many of the top software and devices analysed were found to collate and provide even more potentially invasive monitors.

During StandOut CV’s analysis, they found that almost one in 10 of monitors can access your device’s microphone and audio record whatever is being said.

In addition to this, one in five (22%) of the software and tools analysed were found to be able to access video and camera recordings, often using these videos to take recordings of their screens.

While most might think that these tools would make themselves known, so employees know they’re being monitored, 47 per cent of the tools and software were found to allow employers to use “Stealth Modes”, preventing employees from seeing their presence on the devices.

Moreover, a third of employer-managed monitors could provide your boss with some form of remote access to an employee’s device.

StandOut CV concludes that while many of the tools are likely to be helpful for increasing productivity, there will naturally be some privacy and trust concerns that come with them.

Andrew Fennell, Director at StandOut CV states: “It is expected that the pandemic will see greater numbers of people working remotely, with companies choosing to reduce costs and react to employee attitudes.

“However, with that comes the need for many firms to track and understand their employees, using monitors to help them secure their property and productivity levels high.

“With working from home increasing in long term popularity, it is concerning that so many of the tools we analysed could provide employers and managers with private audio, visual and text-based information.

“To keep people safe we’d recommend checking your employee handbook for information on the companies monitoring policies, to understand what they are (or aren’t) collecting. Additionally, as a general rule based on the results of our analysis, people should look to separate their work from personal devices and personal use from work devices.”