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Should You Monitor Your
Remote Workers?

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Late last year, Microsoft announced a new feature that would make it easier for employers to monitor their employees’ activity. “Bossware” is increasingly popular with corporations who want to keep tabs on their remote workers. But is this kind of surveillance justified?

In November 2021, Microsoft made a controversial announcement. The software giant was road-mapping a feature that would make it easier for employers to see their employees’ activity. The new feature uses machine learning to let admins carry out compliance monitoring through Microsoft Edge, tracking which files are printed or copied to USB. 

The purpose of this development is supposedly to enhance risk management. But many in the tech community received Microsoft’s announcement as an attack on employee privacy. This is a hot topic right now, with a number of employers investing in software that allows them to monitor the productivity of those working at home.

Security, transparency and trust

From the employer’s point of view, it might seem logical to look for new ways to keep track of your team’s productivity. With so many people now working remotely, how can a manager or CEO tell who’s at their desk and who’s slacking off? It’s no wonder that productivity tracking tools – known not-so-affectionately as “bossware” – are such a booming market.

For employees, though, the picture looks very different. Every good manager knows that trust is a crucial part of working in a team. If your boss installs software that tracks your every move, that’s a significant dent in that trust. Even if it can be justified in pragmatic terms, from a human point of view it’s simply a bad-faith way to operate. So it’s also no wonder that employees come up with creative ways to get around it.

And it’s far from clear that employee monitoring is a pragmatic move in the first place. While remote working wasn’t exactly perfect in the early days, a recent study suggests it’s actually more efficient than working from the office. The idea that it’s less productive is quickly proving to be false.  

Keep it positive

What do you do if you have concerns about keeping your team productive while working from home? Rather than monitor them, we believe that the best way is to help them out. There are plenty of tools available to limit distractions: filtering notifications, blocking certain apps and websites, and streamlining communications. Some of these are even included in your Microsoft 365 subscription. Your team members can choose and use the ones that suit them best – it’s very personal!

Perhaps the most important thing is to make sure your employees have an open line of communication with you and with each other, as well as access to all the hardware and software they need to work effectively and securely. If they feel comfortable and valued, with transparent goals and processes, they’re much more likely to become highly productive – and stay that way.

At One Technology, we’re veterans when it comes to remote work. We can act as your IT support partner, providing personalised solutions custom-made for your business and your team. If you’re interested in what we can do to help, just get in touch to schedule your free 15-minute consultation.