remote employee monitoring

How Can Employers Make Employee Monitoring Work with Remote Employees?

7 minutes

Employee work monitoring wasn’t really an issue back in the day where everyone reports to work in a physical location but more and more companies have to switch to remote work settings, thanks to the pandemic! Gone are the days where employees simply clock in and out each workday. 

Most employees are forced to work from home due to the Covid19 pandemic and the sudden surge of employees that have to work from home makes it difficult for most business owners or managers to monitor the work hours employees spend actually doing work for their employers.

An office employee couldn’t alter the Bundy clock report; however, she could come to work late or leave early and ask a colleague to punch her card for her on time. Dishonest people tend to find ways of cheating even when working from home.

An employer using employee monitoring software discovered that this could happen to employees working from home. The employer noticed that one of his employee’s Time Use report logged 15 hours. When the employer used the software’s screenshot monitoring system, he found that the employee’s screen had no mouse or keyboard activity during the time he reportedly worked. Had it not been for the monitoring tool, the dishonest employee may have continued deceiving him.

But the screenshot monitoring system does not appear to be foolproof. A relevant article summarized the most common ways dishonest employees may prompt the typical employee monitoring software into indicating that they are working although they are not.

4 Ways Dishonest Employees Hack Employee Monitoring Software

  1. By logging-in earlier and logging-out later than usual, the employee can make it appear that he did overtime work. This is the simplest way an employee can collect pay without working.

  2. An employee may simultaneously log-in on two monitors, one watched by the tracking system and another as auxiliary. The employee will divide his time working in both monitors, purportedly for the same purpose of doing the work. He periodically moves the mouse and type data on the watched-monitor. He pretends to mine data through the auxiliary monitor but do unrelated work. At the end of the working day, the employee collects pay on time spent on both monitors.

  3. By attaching a battery-operated toy to the computer’s mouse, the mouse moves as the toy moves. The monitoring software records this activity as work-related. Thus, if the toy’s movement is programmed to simulate mouse activity, the employee would appear to be the one manipulating the mouse. This works if the employer does not check the screenshots or the software does not distinctly show the screen images.

  4. Certain employees try to figure out the frequency in which the screenshots are taken. They pretend to be working at the approximate moment the screenshots are taken and do something else after the screenshot.
  1. The more sophisticated way of tricking the monitor is to mess with the code of the software that tracks computer activity. This is difficult but not impossible to do.

Increasing access to advanced technology had encouraged service companies to hire remote employees. The raging COVID-19 pandemic had intensified this trend. The trend consequently gave rise to the introduction of a variety of monitoring devises to track the activities of online employees. Today, there is various software that employers could choose from.

Benefits of an Employee Monitoring Software

Although the various types of employee monitoring software have customized differences, they are designed to satisfy the same need, which is to monitor employees’ productivity.

An employer can gain the following benefits for using an efficient employee monitoring software:

  1. It eliminates the need to rent an office space to train-on-the-job, assign workload, supervise, and pay employees.
  2. It makes records filing easier, faster, and less time-consuming. All records will automatically be downloaded/uploaded online.
  3. It gives employers a concrete basis of what they are billed for by contractors and freelancers.
  4. It obliges employees, contractors, and freelancers to provide the designated quality and quantity of deliverables on time.
  5. It encourages employees to work with less or no supervision from their employers.
  6. It saves the employer time and effort for supervising the employees. The software is downloaded by the employees themselves. Henceforth, the employees shall do as required without being promoted by the employer.

Best Employee Monitoring Software

Among the top 10 employee monitoring software we reviewed, we selected the highest rated software, which is Time Doctor.

Time Doctor was used as a time-tracking tool since 2019 by companies like Apple, Verizon, and PwC. It is considered as one of the best options for monitoring remote employees for the following reasons:

  • Simplicity.

Most employee monitoring software are disliked for being complicated and involves a lot of manual reading. Time Doctor is easy to use.

With Time Doctor, an employee manually starts the timer. While the employee proceeds doing her task, TimeDoctor quietly runs in the background – calculating the time spent and sites accessed during this time.

When the time is up or the task is done, the employee stops working and manually turns off the timer. This feature makes the Time Doctor an employee-friendly tool.

  • Prevents employees from surfing on unrelated sites.

When the employee starts foraying on social media and instant messaging sites while working, Time Doctor automatically pops a message asking if the employee is working. This nudges the employee to get off the social media site and get back to work.

This feature may appear to be an unwelcome function for the employee but a responsible employee will realize that this is fair to both the employer and the employee. A well-meaning person realizes that being guided towards doing the right thing is a blessing in the long run.

  • Provides a Poor Time Use Report

The report gives details about sites an employee had accessed and how long he stayed there. Time Doctor can take screenshots of the employee’s screen at random intervals. This discourages an employee from going to unproductive sites. This feature appears to be unfavorable to the employee. However, this feature is optional and can be disabled at any time.

  • Protects the Privacy of the Employee

For privacy reasons, the employee can always delete a compromising screenshot, especially if it is taken randomly at break time and contains any sensitive information. Moreover, the employee can ask permission from the employer to turn-off the screenshot function if necessary.

  • It has an Inactivity Tracker

Time Doctor senses when the keyboard or mouse activities cease for three minutes. When this occurs, Time Doctor automatically assumes that the employee has taken a break and it instantly pauses the timer.

That ensures that the employee cannot pass off idle time as active work. This features us highly favorable to the employer. A well-meaning employee must accept that this feature is meant to promote fairness not to curtail the employee’s freedom.

  • Provides Detailed Reports
    • Timesheet Report – This report shows the total number of working hours done by the per day/week/month. This serves as a reference for payment and performance evaluation. This is favorable both to the employer and the employee because it seeks to promote fairness and helps to enhance performance.
    • Time Use Report – Time Doctor tracks websites visited by the employee. This report breaks down the time spent by an employee on all tasks in a given period. Based on that report, the team handler can undertake appropriate coaching sessions with the employee who needs to do faster work moving forward. This feature is also favorable to both the employer and the employee because it encourages efficient use of time; this rebounds to more output and more pay for the employee.
    • Timeline Daily Report – The timeline daily report breaks down the time spent by the employee by the sequence of tasks rendered. This is useful for evaluating the employee’s capability and how to help him optimize his skills.
    • Project Report – The project report breaks down the total time spent on an entire project. It shows the details of how long the employee did different tasks in the project. This is useful for calculating what it would require to do a similar future project. This will also indicate the strength and limitations of particular employees; the data will be useful in assigning appropriate tasks in the future.
    • Attendance Report – The attendance report shows how regularity an employee shows up for work. This indicates hue many times and why the employee misses work. This is useful for performance evaluation purposes.
    • Web and App Usage Report – This report specifies the site and app an employee accessed during working hours. It also shows how long how much time he spent on each of these sites and apps. This allows the handler to check if employees didn’t waste time on irrelevant sites and apps. Moreover, this report will be an indisputable basis for appropriate personnel actions.
    • Poor Time Use Report – The poor time Use Report periodically shows the propensity of the employee to accessed irrelevant sites and apps during working hours. Time Doctor automatically categorizes social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as distractions. However, the employee can edit this report. It is a good way to deter employees from spending working time on irrelevant sites. However, this could become permissible if the type of project involves data mining that requires accessing social media networks.

  • Protects Employees’ Privacy

    Time Doctor prevents possible employee privacy invasion – it tracks the employee’s work-related activities while the timer is on. But the app immediately stops monitoring once the timer is switched off. The app cannot track the sites and apps the employee accesses while the timer is not working.
  • Easily integrates with compatible tools and add-ons

    Time Doctor works with compatible tools like GitHub, Asana, and Zapier to enhance its functions.
  • Payroll Automation Feature

    It automatically computes the employee’s payroll based on the time it had recorded.

  • Allows clients to access the Time Doctor without additional cost.
  • Affordable Pricing – Time Doctor starts at $7/month per user with a free 14-day trial without a credit card.
  • Excellent Customer Ratings – G2Crowd – 4.3/5 (100+ reviews), Capterra – 4.5/ 5 (200+ reviews)

Time Doctor: Pros and Cons


  • Powerful automated time tracking capabilities.
  • Awesome website monitoring features coupled with an integrated inactivity tracker.
  • Provides detailed reports to keep track of employee performance.
  • Does not invade the privacy of users.


  • The tool seems to be more suited to companies than freelancers and solopreneurs.


It stands to reason that the Time Doctor employee monitoring software is excellent for monitoring employees’ productivity, especially for employers who work with remote employees or freelancers who work from home. However, it does not follow that all employers may find the software suitable for their businesses. As not all employers are equal, it is logical that every employer must put in place a monitoring software that snugly fits his particular circumstances. One may need cheaper software with lesser features while another may need software with different features and capabilities.

Based on the data gathered, it appears that the Time Doctor could be useful in monitoring employees’ productivity both in the office or when working from home.

The software, however, seems to predominantly promote the employer’s interest compared to that of the employee; this may raise some resistance or concerns on the employee’s side.


Employee Monitoring Software: Tips for Easy Integration

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about the new (hopefully temporary) normal in the workplace and people’s personal lives. Work from home has proven to be a vital alternative than having employees report to work but monitoring employees’ productivity has become more of a challenge to most employers. 

Monitoring remote employees make perfect sense from the employer’s perspective, but employees’ who newly transitioned to working from home may regard it with reservation as no one likes being watched constantly.

Fortunately, employee monitoring can be implemented in a manner that a company’s interests are safeguarded while keeping the employees happy.

Transparency is vital in putting a tracking system in place. The more employees’ doubts and questions the employer are able to clarify, the better are the chances the employees will accept the tracking initiative and work without unnecessary fears.

Below are simple tips for easy integration of employee monitoring software on your employees’ computers.

  • Involve the employees in creating policy so that they would gain a sense of ownership and would know the policy by heart.
  • Monitor business activities but avoid intruding on the employee’s privacy.
  • Gain the employee’s trust. If correction is necessary, the employer must do it in a friendly manner. He or she must use information mainly to enhance performance.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *