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How to remotely monitor employees computers on Windows, Linux, and Mac

The way we work is changing. The typical office space has now expanded beyond just four walls and tight-knit teams. Remote work, as as well as remote teams, are growing as technology allows employees to work from anywhere and still be productive, and connected at all times. With a changing work space, the requirements for those spaces and for employees working remotely also change. For one, organisations need a safe, and ethical way to remotely monitor employees’ computers.

The method used to monitor employees must not interfere with daily work and it ought to be able to give an accurate view of an employee’s productivity. Additionally, the methods used shouldn’t be resource hungry so that they can run on moderate to low end systems as well.

How does computer monitoring software work?

Computer monitoring software claims to do many things; monitor productivity, log hours, mark attendance, record screens, monitor web based activity, and more. The question is, how do these apps work and how is it all accomplished?

Internet monitoring software

An PC activity monitor is a complex app but it’s also smart. Take the example of productivity monitoring. Employers can select apps that are used for work related tasks e.g. Slack and they can blacklist apps that aren’t work related e.g. Steam. They can do the same for various domains so that when employees visit social media websites, it’s clear that it isn’t for a work related task and counts towards unproductive time.

Employee tracking software

Computer monitoring software monitors when an employee is active, working, and at their work station. Organisations that do no use computer monitoring software rely on employees logging into chat applications as a sign that they are ‘at work’. Employee monitoring software approaches this differently; not only does it check if an employee is online but also whether or not they’re active or idle. Activity monitoring is not limited to just a few applications but rather extended to an entire system so that, regardless of which application an employee is using, you can tell if they’re actively working or not. It’s a great way to track hours worked and automatically log attendance.

Screen recordings

A PC monitoring application runs a screen recorder in the background. Some apps can take periodic screenshots while others will record videos of screen activity. The recordings and/or screenshots are time stamped allowing organisations to view activity for a given date and time.

Kickidler

If you’re an organisation looking to remotely monitor its employees we recommend using Kickidler. It checks all the right boxes, and has some great features to boot.

Flex timings and attendance

With remote workers, flex timings are often part of the mix but it’s exceptionally difficult to keep track of hours worked and daily attendance when employees are working different hours. If they break the work day down into two distinct portions, it makes it all the more difficult to calculate how many hours have been worked in a day. In the end, this can create problems for both employees who may lose on overtime payments and for employers who need employees to meet minimum daily, weekly, or monthly work hour targets.

Kickidler is great at keeping track of how many hours have been worked even if they’re broken down into smaller chunks throughout the day. It also has an automatic attendance logging system that requires no intervention or verification from employees allowing them to skip these types of smaller tasks and focus on work.

Training and troubleshooting

Kickidler can record screen activity on computers that are being monitored and as such it serves as an excellent on-boarding tool allowing employers to provide training and view, first hand, an employee’s learning and understanding of their tasks. Additionally, because systems are being monitored, companies can provide remote IT help and troubleshoot problems more accurately with the data that’s available. Employees don’t have to be tied down with taking screenshots and providing steps to reproduce any problems they might be experiencing.

Disaster mitigation and relief

Kickidler can be used to log certain keyword related activity e.g., if an employee happens to use the word ‘torrent’ during work hours. In the event a system is infected with a virus, the key logged events, as well as the overall history and activity log allows employers to assess what went wrong, where a virus could have come from, and quickly provide the best and quickest way to remove it. Kickidler itself isn’t an antivirus however by examining the recent activity on a computer, it can help a company’s IT department figure out what sort of infection they’re dealing and give them the information needed to come up with a solution.

Additionally, for employees who are prone to forgetting their logins, or are inclined to follow poor security practices, Kickidler can keep an eye on how sensitive information is being handled and allow organisations to enforce security policies as and when needed.

Security

For companies dealing with highly sensitive data, or proprietary information, Kickidler allows them to keep track of certain activities e.g., which files are accessed and what websites are being visited. If employees are copying or transmitting sensitive information, management can step in and prevent intellectual theft.

Collaboration tool

Kickidler isn’t just a tool that helps management keep track of what remote workers are doing. It can be used to get daily work updates, and communicate them to the rest of the team. Instead of employees individually reporting in on completed tasks, and other employees waiting for updates, management can use Kickidler’s activity tracking features to check how far work has progressed and communicate it on time.

What’s more, for employees that are benefitting from flex timings and aren’t available when an update from them is required, Kickidler’s reports can be used to fill in how far work has progressed.

Legal benefits

When employees are working with sensitive data, and interacting with customers directly, they are responsible for the commitments made by the company to said customers. In the event something goes wrong and customers complain about an employee’s conduct or the service that was provided, the recordings and logs gathered by KickIdler can be used to exonerate them. Additionally, the recordings can be used to figure out what went wrong and train employees how to avoid and/or work with difficult scenarios. Overall, it provides a safety net where false claims cannot be filed and plenty of evidence is available to quickly resolve any such problems.

Cost

Kickidler costs $9/month but it also has 3 and 6 month plans that cost $24 and $30 respectively. It also has annual plans with a one year plan costing $50, a three year plan costing $100, and a lifetime plan costing $170. These prices are for one license however bulk licensing options are also available and are cheaper.

Kickidler has a demo version that allows you to view how the app works on Kickidler computers. You can take it for a spin on your own computer with a 14 day trial version that allows you to check out what the app is capable of before you use it to monitor employees.

Monitoring vs spying

It’s important to make a distinction between monitoring and spying on employees. A monitoring application is installed with the full knowledge and consent of an employee. It is best that employees are made aware of any company policies and requirements regarding monitoring when they are being hired. The best practice is to use monitoring applications on company provided systems instead of asking employees to volunteer their own devices for work use and subsequently install monitoring applications on it.

Why do employers monitor employees?

Employees often view remote monitoring software as a surveillance tool that will be used to penalize them. It is important that organisations looking to remotely monitors employees explain the need for the software. Working together with an understanding of why such a tool is necessary in their line of work will make for a healthier employer-employee relationship.

A pc activity monitor is viewed as something that only has a one-sided benefit that favours management and punishes employees. There is a bit of a stigma that goes without it however, employee do benefit from remote monitoring software. For one, it serves as an excellent appraisal tool where other subjective tools might fail. It also helps provide better training, and is often a good legal safety net for employees when things go wrong and there is little evidence, if any, that an employee did the right thing and was not at fault.

The stigma that remote monitoring software comes with isn’t all baseless. Often, it results in a power trip where people in management positions end up using it to micromanage employees and even prosecute them for every little misstep or perceived misstep. In that vein, it isn’t just employees that need to be on-board with the need for remote monitoring software. Management also needs to understand, and trained if need be, that the purpose of the software is to aid productivity and automate mundane tasks like recording hours worked and not to police employees.

Is it legal to monitor employees computers?

You should also take a look at monitoring, recording, and logging laws in your country when you’re choosing a remote monitoring solution. It may, for example, be legal to track which app e.g. browser, an employee is using but it may be illegal to track which websites they’re visiting or what information (personal logins etc) they’re entering.

Kickidler does have a secret mode that allows it to run silently without employees knowing so you can secretly monitor them if you need to but there may be legal implications that are applied to it nonetheless.

The risk of micromanagement

Kickidler gives extensive insight into how individual employees work and it is only natural that management will want to increase productivity. Kickidler can be used to figure out what works and what are good work practices but at the same time, it comes with the risk of becoming a micromanagement tool.

It’s important that it isn’t used as a tool to police every aspect of work. Screen recordings, for example, shouldn’t be used as a surveillance tool unless gross misconduct is suspected.

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