How to Monitor Employees Working from Home Like a Pro

How to Monitor Employees Working from Home Like a Pro

Embracing the Future of Remote Work: Balancing Productivity, Privacy, and Trust.
How to Monitor Employees Working from Home

In the modern digital age, workplaces are no longer confined to the traditional office. The rise of remote employees has reshaped not only where we work but also how we work. This shift has been evolving over the years, but recent events have accelerated this transformation, making remote employee monitoring an essential aspect of management for businesses.

The challenge now lies in comprehending how to monitor remote employees effectively without encroaching on their privacy. As we move forward, we'll delve into the evolution of this digital workplace era, emphasizing remote employee monitoring software and its role in ensuring employee productivity.

The Growing Prevalence of Remote Work

The landscape of modern work has seen a dramatic shift, with remote work not only emerging as a trend but firmly establishing itself as the new norm. According to a Forbes article, a notable 12.7% of full-time employees now work exclusively from home, while a 28.2% work on a hybrid model. This rise in remote work, facilitated by technological advancements, offers businesses and employees alike numerous benefits:

  • Flexibility: Employees have the autonomy to select their work environment, whether it's the comfort of their home, a local cafe, or even while on the move.
  • Cost Savings: Companies can significantly reduce overhead expenses, and employees can cut down on commuting and daily meal costs. Increased Productivity: The absence of daily commutes and typical office distractions can lead to heightened focus and efficiency.
  • Better Work-Life Balance: The adaptability of remote work can promote a more harmonious balance between professional and personal commitments.
  • Talent Acquisition and Retention: Organizations have the advantage of accessing a global talent pool and can offer perks that resonate with the modern workforce's desires.

However, with this shift comes challenges. An essential aspect for businesses to navigate in this era of remote work is understanding the nuances of remote worker monitoring, ensuring it aligns with organizational objectives while respecting employee well-being.

The Necessity of Effective Employee Monitoring

As remote work becomes prevalent, the necessity for efficient employee monitoring grows. While it's tempting to think of remote work as a space of unlimited freedom, there are potential pitfalls. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that full-time remote workers were 18% less productive than their in-office counterparts. This statistic highlights the importance of effective monitoring tools.

Employee monitoring software can play a pivotal role here. These tools can provide insights into employee activity, help managers allocate resources efficiently, and ensure data security. Moreover, monitoring can:

  • Promote Accountability: Knowing that there's a system in place can motivate employees to stay on task.
  • Protect Sensitive Information: With the right software, companies can safeguard against potential data breaches.
  • Facilitate Team Collaboration: Monitoring tools often come with features that promote team collaboration and communication.

However, it's crucial to strike a balance. Excessive monitoring can infringe on employee privacy and trust. Businesses must ensure that the use of remote employee monitoring software is transparent, ethical, and in line with company values.

As we go deeper into the intricacies of remote work and monitoring, we'll explore best practices, tools, and strategies to ensure a seamless transition to this new era of work.

Full-time Employees Working from Home

Key Challenges in Employee Monitoring

As remote work becomes more prevalent, monitoring employees has also become an essential component for many businesses to ensure productivity and maintain security. However, this monitoring brings several challenges, from navigating the complex legal landscape to maintaining the delicate balance between monitoring and trust.

Legal and Ethical Implications

Remote employee monitoring, while often necessary, can be fraught with legal and ethical dilemmas. Here are some significant points of consideration:

  • Federal and State Laws: Most federal and state privacy laws allow employers a degree of discretion with employee monitoring. Some states require informing employees about monitoring, while others may not mandate such disclosure.
  • Expectation of Privacy: Matt C. Pinsker, a former adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, notes that employees typically have minimal privacy expectations while on company premises or using company resources.
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA): The ECPA is pivotal in dictating workplace monitoring. Key provisions include the authority of business owners to monitor communications for legitimate business reasons and the potential to monitor personal and business communications with employee consent.
  • Email Surveillance: Federal court rulings have determined that employers can inspect sent emails since they transform from "electronic communications" to "electronic storage" post-transmission.
  • Computer Activity Monitoring: On company-owned devices, there's virtually no expectation of privacy. Employers can monitor activities from their remote employees such as website visits and keystrokes. However, they must be cautious to not infringe on laws like HIPAA or risk exposing sensitive employee data.

Building Trust in a Digital Workspace

Creating a trust-based digital workspace is paramount to ensure remote employees feel valued and respected. Here's how:

  • Hiring Practices: Focus on bringing aboard individuals who appreciate and thrive in trust-based environments.
  • Communication: Regular, transparent communication boosts camaraderie and collaboration between remote teams.
  • Transparency: Be clear about monitoring intentions and practices. Decentralization: Encourage rotating team leadership to decentralize power, fostering a sense of collective ownership and responsibility.

Productivity vs. Privacy: Striking the Right Balance

When we track work, the main goal is to help our workers do their jobs better. But it's also important to make sure we respect everyone's private space. This means making clear rules about what we're checking and why. It's good to let people share how they feel about these checks and to listen to their ideas. Also, it helps to look at our checking methods from time to time to make sure they're fair and not too nosy.

Metrics for Comprehensive Remote Monitoring

Understanding how remote employees work is vital for businesses. By using specific metrics and tools, companies can get a clearer picture of what their employees are doing. This helps in making informed decisions and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Email Communication: A Vital Pulse Point

Email is a big part of our work lives. In fact, many of us spend between 28% to 50% of our workday just checking emails. But it's not just about the amount of time we spend; it's about what we're doing during that time. Are we answering customers quickly? Are we talking with our teammates effectively? Tools like EmailAnalytics can help answer these questions. They let bosses see how many emails their teams send, who they talk to the most, and how quickly they reply. This can help spot who's really busy and who might have some extra time to help out.

Insights from Web and Application Usage

It's not just emails. How we use the web and other software can tell a lot about our work habits. But there's a surprising fact: workers often spend around 10 hours each week on things that aren't related to their jobs. That's time spent shopping, watching videos, or even looking for another job. It's important for companies to know this so they can offer help or find ways to keep their teams focused. They can use special software to see which websites and apps their teams use the most during work hours.

Deciphering Daily Habits and Potential Distraction

Everyone has their own work habits. Some of us start the day by checking the news or social media, while others dive straight into their tasks. But some habits can distract us from our work. For example, a study showed that people often spend time on personal chats, watching videos, playing games, or searching for jobs during work hours. Other common distractions include shopping, banking, or reading about health topics. Knowing this can help companies offer better tools and training to help their teams stay on track.

As remote work becomes more common, it's important for companies to understand their teams' habits. This isn't about spying or being nosy; it's about helping everyone work better together.

Top Software Tools for Effective Monitoring

Having the right tools to monitor your team's activities is essential. Not only do these tools help maintain productivity, but they also ensure that employees have the resources and support they need to work effectively. Here's a look at some of the top remote employee monitoring software available, each offering a unique set of features tailored to different business needs.

OnTheClock: A Versatile Tool for Small Businesses

OnTheClock is a cloud-based time tracking software allowing for seamless integration across various platforms, ensuring that businesses can efficiently keep track of their employee hours and generate time cards for payroll. However, OnTheClock isn't just about tracking hours; it offers a wide range of features to ensure that businesses have a holistic view of their employee time management.

OnTheClock Remote Work Monitor Tool

Key Features of OnTheClock

  • Online Time Clock: A simple, user-friendly interface allows employees to clock in and out with ease. This ensures accurate tracking of hours worked and helps businesses manage their payroll effectively.
  • PTO Management: Keeping tabs on paid time off is essential for both employee well-being and business planning. OnTheClock simplifies this process, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding leave balances and approvals.
  • Shift Scheduling: Plan and allocate shifts with ease. The software helps managers design schedules that best fit their team's needs and business demands.
  • GPS Tracking: For businesses with mobile or on-the-field teams, the GPS tracking feature is invaluable. It offers real-time tracking, ensuring that employees are where they need to be.
  • PTO Tracking: Beyond just managing PTO, tracking its usage patterns can offer insights into workforce trends and help in forward planning.

Why OnTheClock Stands Out

For small businesses, the challenges of managing employee time can be overwhelming. OnTheClock addresses these challenges head-on, offering a suite of tools that are both comprehensive and easy to use. Its cloud-based nature ensures that businesses can access it anytime, anywhere, making it especially handy in today's remote work culture.

Master Remote Work with OnTheClock!

Track, manage, and boost your team's productivity effortlessly.


Asana is a powerful task management tool tailored to meet the demands of modern teams, especially those with a remote workforce. It provides a structured platform where teams can efficiently organize and manage their tasks, reducing the need for lengthy email threads and frequent meetings. With features like projects, workspaces, tasks, and sections, Asana ensures that every team member is aligned with the overall objectives and knows their individual responsibilities.

Available both on the web and mobile, Asana's accessibility ensures that no matter where an employee is, they can stay connected to their work.

By centralizing task management and fostering transparency, Asana plays a pivotal role in monitoring remote employee performance, ensuring that everyone is on track and productive.


InterGuard is a straightforward software tool designed for employers who want to keep a close eye on their employees' productivity levels, especially when managing remote teams. It provides a comprehensive view of what an employee does on their computer, whether it's a PC, virtual desktop, or Mac. The software records activity, shedding light on how much time an employee spends on work-related tasks, idle time, or non-work-related activities.

But it's not just about monitoring; InterGuard can be a valuable ally for HR teams. If there's a concern or issue that needs investigating, InterGuard's detailed records of web browsing and other activities can provide the necessary insights.


Teramind stands out as a behavioral analytics platform, vital for companies aiming to secure their internal data. This software is designed to keep tabs on user behaviors, helping organizations pinpoint potential internal threats and curb data breaches. What makes Teramind special is its comprehensive monitoring capability. Whether it's onsite employees, remote team members, or even external contractors, Teramind captures their activities in real-time. This ensures that any suspicious or unintended actions don't go unnoticed, adding an extra layer of security.

Best Practices for Seamless Monitoring Integration

Monitoring your employees, especially remote ones, can be a tricky endeavor. But, with the right strategies in place, you can efficiently integrate employee monitoring systems, ensuring both productivity and satisfaction. Here are some simple yet effective ways to achieve that balance:

Setting Boundaries and Expectations

Setting clear boundaries is the first step in ensuring that both the employer and the employee are on the same page. By understanding and agreeing on what's monitored, potential disputes can be avoided:

  • Clear Expectations from Day One: When onboarding new team members, be clear about performance expectations. This eliminates guesswork and promotes accountability. Role Significance: Help each worker grasp the value of their role and how their contributions benefit the whole organization.
  • Clear Communication: Avoid misunderstandings. Lay out your expectations in easy-to-understand documents and discuss them in person.
  • Relevance and Importance: Share the 'why' behind each expectation so employees see the bigger picture. Use Real-world Examples: Show how meeting expectations can positively impact the business.
  • Get a Commitment: Formalize expectations with a sign-off. This not only makes it official but also ensures accountability.

Nurturing Open Communication Channels

Open communication is the backbone of trust, especially for remote employees:

  • Regular Check-ins: Regularly communicate with remote employees, ensuring they're aligned with company goals.
  • Address Monitoring Concerns: Encourage employees to voice concerns about monitoring. This shows you value their comfort and privacy.
  • Promote Transparency: Be open about why monitoring is essential, alleviating potential fears or misconceptions.
  • Reap the Benefits: Studies suggest that better communication can boost productivity by up to 25%. And when equipped with the right communication tools, this number can jump to 30%.

The Significance of Self-Reporting

Empowering employees to take ownership of their work can foster responsibility:

  • Promote Trust: Encourage remote workers to self-report tasks and achievements. This not only builds trust but also promotes a sense of accomplishment.
  • Foster Responsibility: When employees report their work, they become more accountable and conscious of their contributions.
  • Adopt Widely: More businesses are realizing the benefits of self-reporting and incorporating it into their workflow.

Incorporating these best practices ensures a smooth transition as you integrate employee monitoring tools, particularly for home-based workers.

Benefits of Remote Monitoring

While some employees might initially resist the idea of monitoring, when implemented appropriately, the advantages of these monitoring tools far outweigh the perceived negatives.

Streamlining Delegation and Balancing Workload

One of the standout advantages of using an employee monitoring tool is the ability to balance and delegate tasks effectively. Managers can:

  • Observe Employee Productivity: By monitoring the tasks completed and the time spent, managers can get an insight into each remote team member's productivity levels. This helps in identifying who might be overwhelmed and who could handle more tasks.
  • Optimal Workload Distribution: With a clearer understanding of each employee's workload, managers can ensure that tasks are distributed evenly, preventing burnout or underutilization.
  • Tailored Feedback: By analyzing the data from the monitoring tools, managers can provide specific feedback to employees, guiding them toward optimal performance.

Enhancing Morale and Productivity

Contrary to popular belief, proper monitoring can boost both team morale and individual productivity:

  • Recognition of Hard Work: When managers have data to show who's going above and beyond, it's easier to recognize and reward those employees, thus boosting morale.
  • Transparency: When every remote employee knows that performance metrics are being monitored objectively, it can foster a sense of fairness, as promotions or bonuses are based on concrete data.
  • Encouragement for Self-improvement: By seeing their own productivity data, employees can self-evaluate and push themselves to improve where necessary.

Proactively Addressing Inefficiencies

Efficiency is the backbone of any successful business, and monitoring tools are pivotal in promoting this:

  • Spotting Bottlenecks: Managers can identify tasks or processes that consistently take longer than they should, allowing for timely interventions.
  • Training Opportunities: If certain remote employees consistently underperform in specific areas, targeted training can be provided.
  • Improved Workflow: By understanding where time is spent, businesses can streamline operations, ensuring that both time and resources are used effectively.

The Future of Employee Monitoring: What Lies Ahead?

The realm of employee monitoring has witnessed significant evolutions, especially in the last decade. With the proliferation of remote work and technological advancements, the future trends in this domain are both intriguing and inevitable.

As remote work continues to grow, experts predict that by the next decade, more than half of the global workforce might transition to some form of remote work. This surge will undeniably fuel the need for sophisticated monitoring techniques that can cater to diverse work environments. The emphasis will likely shift from mere surveillance to holistic strategies that enhance employee engagement and productivity.

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

OnTheClock Team

OnTheClock is the perfect app for business that want to keep track of their employees' time without spending hours doing it. With OnTheClock, you can forget about the old way of doing things.

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