Employee observing data on a computer
Hybrid work

The dilemma of employee productivity tracking software


May 20, 2024


May 21, 2024

Art Malkovich is the CEO and co-founder of Onilab, an e-commerce development company. He has about ten years of experience in team management and web development for e-commerce. He is keen on keeping up with the latest technologies and developing innovative projects, such as headless commerce solutions and PWAs.

Is it ethical to monitor your employees' productivity? This question is extremely relevant today as more companies are implementing tracking software to supervise remote and in-office workers. Employers want to clearly understand what tasks and activities their staff are involved in and make sure they manage their time efficiently.

From advertising and marketing to finance and retail, productivity monitoring software, also known as “brassware” or “tattler,” is gaining more traction. For example, eCommerce titan Amazon uses the smartphone app Mentor to assess the efficiency and behavior of its contracted delivery drivers on the road. Similarly, the world’s leader in financial services, JPMorgan, monitors everything from employees’ Zoom calls and emails to office attendance.  

When applying such tracking tools, finding the right balance between monitoring your team's performance and respecting their privacy is essential. Otherwise, you can stifle employee morale and create a toxic workplace. In this article, we'll discuss the major types of productivity monitoring software, its pros and cons, and the best practices for integrating it into your business.

Overview of employee monitoring


The pandemic triggered an initial spike in work surveillance. As time went by and organizations settled into remote and hybrid work models, employee monitoring became even more commonplace. In fact, 60% of businesses with remote staff keep digital tabs on their employees.   

Companies use various tools and practices to gather data on what their personnel do during working hours. The main reasons for applying these solutions include:

  • Identifying workflow bottlenecks and inefficiencies. With the necessary data at their fingertips, companies can analyze how employees spend their time and pinpoint slow or cumbersome processes that hinder productivity.

  • Encouraging employees to stay focused on their jobs. Some monitoring tools can block access to particular websites and applications during work time so team members don’t get distracted.

  • Preventing data breaches and misuse of company resources. Monitoring systems provide an extra layer of security, as they can recognize dodgy behavior in real time and alert the appropriate department to take immediate action.

  • Determining compliance with company policies. Tracking employees’ internet usage and email communication ensures that they adhere to the designated guidelines and don’t participate in anything that could jeopardize the company's security or reputation.  

Employee productivity monitoring features are already an inherent part of many modern customer relationship management systems. Take Salesforce CRM as an example. This robust platform allows managers to create custom dashboards and reports with valuable insights into employee activities and team progress. More often than not, businesses will need expert guidance from a certified Salesforce CRM consulting agency to leverage the full potential of this powerful tool.

Types of employee productivity tracking tools

The digital market is swamped by various software to track productivity and boost performance. We'll go over some of the most popular types:

  • Computer monitoring software surveils all the activities that employees perform on company computers. Its functionality includes keystroke logging, taking screenshots, and tracking internet and application usage.

  • The time tracking tool records how many hours office and remote workers spend on specific tasks.

  • Email monitoring systems let you view employee correspondence, namely incoming, outgoing, deleted, and archived messages.

  • GPS and Location Tracking software helps businesses monitor their employees' whereabouts.

  • Biometric systems scan fingerprints, palms, faces, or irises to track employee attendance or give access to secure areas.

  • Video surveillance technology captures footage of employees' actions and gives visual proof in case of any violations.

Choosing the best employee monitoring software can be pretty overwhelming, considering the great diversity of tools. While each option serves a specific task, businesses can mix several of them to fit their unique needs. For example, a company with a mobile workforce might settle on GPS tracking and biometric systems to ensure security and proper attendance. Meanwhile, an office-based organization may select software for tracking time and computer activity to evaluate employee performance.

Employee productivity tracking software: pros and cons of implementing it

Setting up a process for tracking team productivity has advantages and shortcomings. Gitnux, an independent market research platform, states that employees become 7% more efficient when they know they’re under scrutiny. Yet, there are a lot more benefits businesses can gain from monitoring tools. Let’s explore them in detail.


Improves employee performance

Relying on employee productivity monitoring systems, executives can identify staff members who fail to handle the workload. Next, they can take necessary measures, such as distributing tasks among other team members and organizing additional training sessions, to reduce hurdles in the workflow and increase overall efficiency.

Minimizes risks of data abuse

With a variety of monitoring tools, employers can easily track all interactions with business data, including documents viewed, emails sent, files downloaded, and websites visited. Such an extent of supervision enables them to detect suspicious activities and prevent cyberattacks and insider threats.

Enhances employee engagement

Employee monitoring software assists in spotting team members who spend a lot of time on non-job-related tasks. With this information, managers can step in to determine factors that drive disengagement and find ways to address them. After all, it’s the happy and engaged workers who fuel business success. They tend to be more creative, productive, and motivated to do more than necessary. 

Monitors remote workforce

Remote work has become the new standard for many businesses. Implementing monitoring software enables companies to keep tabs on employees who are dispersed across different locations, ensuring they stay productive and follow safe data-handling practices.

Fosters employee accountability

When in-office and remote teams realize their work is being monitored, they are more likely to focus on business tasks and meet deadlines. Using the best employee monitoring software can also encourage staff members to manage their time efficiently.


While employee monitoring can be a valuable tool, its misuse may bring some negative consequences. Let's examine the possible risks and challenges of integrating this software into a company's workflow.

Undermines employee morale

Instead of boosting worker productivity, overly intrusive monitoring may backfire and decrease job satisfaction. The idea that they're under constant scrutiny creates a sense of anxiety and discomfort among the staff, which can lead to high turnover. In fact, a survey by ExpressVPN revealed that 59% of employees feel stressed due to workplace surveillance, while 43% believe it’s a violation of trust. 

Causes privacy and legal concerns

Privacy and legality concerns will undoubtedly arise when discussing various types of productivity monitoring tools. Employees should understand what data is collected, how it's used, and who can access it. By prioritizing open communication and transparency, businesses can ease their team members' worries and foster trust in the workplace.

Ethical approach to monitoring employee productivity

According to Gartner, 60% of large corporations have been using productivity monitoring systems since the pandemic, and this number is projected to rise to 70% by 2025. Despite the growing popularity of such tracking software, it's crucial for businesses to implement them with a focus on ethical implications and employee well-being. Below you'll find the best practices for how to achieve this:

  • Follow the law. Companies should research their state's privacy and monitoring laws or consult a business attorney if needed. Otherwise, they risk facing legal consequences.

  • Develop well-defined monitoring policies. Clearly communicate what devices and areas will be monitored.

  • Draw up precise contracts. Have your staff members sign an agreement affirming that they understand these policies.

  • Minimize data collection. Track and gather data that's relevant to your business operations and goals. Avoid intrusive surveillance of personal activities.

  • Emphasize data security. Implement robust measures to safeguard sensitive information and employee privacy.

  • Focus on the results, not micromanagement. Use data to assess the overall team performance and pinpoint areas for improvement. Concentrate on the results achieved rather than scrutinizing every minute of an employee's working day.

  • Promote an open-door policy. Create a work environment where employees can freely voice their concerns or ideas about productivity tracking to supervisors.

Finding a balance between monitoring and trust

Tracking employee productivity encompasses a wide range of methods and tools to help managers determine how much time staff members spend on different tasks, what sidetracks them during work hours, and who contributes the most to the team's success.

However, integrating such programs into business processes requires careful consideration of all pros and cons. Companies should follow ethical guidelines and openly discuss the purpose and benefits of using these tools with their employees. Since there's a fine line between necessary oversight and invasive surveillance, transparency is critical to creating a healthy work environment and fostering mutual trust between leadership and personnel.