Security and safety are important concerns of many workplaces. Companies around the world have IT departments, and one goal of such department is to protect data from external infiltration. But how do you protect your company’s information from negligent behavior or accidental sharing via internal sources?
Computer monitoring software is quickly gaining popularity as it allows employers to not only see what websites employees visit, but also what information they’re sharing with their contacts via email. While this sounds like an invaluable tool, you should be careful to note the following negatives that are associated with such practices.
1. Monitoring the Monitoring
A major issue about monitoring computer use is that it requires continuous maintenance and monitoring itself. It’s quite easy to implement a software solution on all the workstations in your office, but unless you have someone on staff who is assigned to regularly review the computer monitoring software's findings, then this will be a wasted effort. This is merely a tool for creating a more effective work environment, which means you need to not only collect data, but also be willing to use it.
2. Additional Expenses
As mentioned in the previous point, monitoring computer usage will do you little good if you don’t have someone to manage and use the information you collect. This then creates additional work for an employee as they will need to review website and email traffic on a weekly basis and report their findings to the company stakeholders. Monitoring such software will obviously result in a loss of time that might be spent doing more productive activities, an ironic twist of fate.
3. Big Brother
One issue you will likely encounter among employees is a perceived lack of privacy. You run the risk of being viewed as a snooping power that is monitoring everything they do. And in most cases, this will not be received kindly. Employees may intentionally visit inappropriate sites as a way of “sticking it to the man,” or they’ll simply reduce their work productivity.
In order to maintain office productivity and trust, you’ll want to ensure all employees are made aware of any computer monitoring practices and exactly what it entails. Most employers use this type of software as a research tool to determine where employees are spending their time online and with what activities. By alerting employees to this practice, it may help result in more conscientious web surfing and less frequent visits to time sink websites.
4. Atmosphere of Distrust
A major disadvantage to monitoring computer usage at work is that it creates an atmosphere of distrust. Employees may feel like management doesn’t trust them to get their job done, which can result in a lack of job satisfaction and even employee turnover. Many younger workers are accustomed to using different Internet tools, and will thus avoid working for companies that discourage non-work-related computer activities.
Monitoring email and internet usage also has the potential to be viewed as a form of punishment. Some employees can be quite productive and may use the time they saved meeting a deadline early to visit specific websites online to pass the time. And it is the most productive employees who have the free time that will feel more like one of their freedoms is being taken away. Furthermore, for those employees who were not responsible for any abuse of company internet policies, they may feel like they are being unfairly punished for the irresponsible actions of other employees.