Every business owner wants to do whatever they can to protect their company and their employees. In a hyper-connected world with fast-moving information, many businesses consider whether or not to monitor their workers’ computer use.
Many tools exist to help business owners track what their employees are doing on company computers. Yet just because you can track this information doesn’t mean that doing so will be the best choice for your company. Here’s how to think about monitoring employee computer use.
Reasons to Monitor Employees’ Computers
The number one reason most companies consider a monitoring policy is security. Security is especially concerning when a company issues devices, like laptops and cell phones, to its teams. If a device is lost or stolen, the company wants to be able to disable access to its systems remotely.
Some companies also hope that by monitoring employees’ computer use, they can help keep employees on track. If data indicates your team regularly gets distracted by non-work Internet use, a tracking program may help redirect their focus.
Reasons Not to Enact a Monitoring Policy
Security matters, but it’s not the only consideration for business owners who want their companies to thrive. Monitoring policies can have a negative effect on your teams, especially if they are applied broadly or without warning.
Workers whose workplace computer use is monitored tend to feel like their employer does not trust them. They may spend more time worrying about being micromanaged than they spend concentrating on work. Worst of all, employees may begin using personal devices more than they ordinarily would – because they fear reprisal if they look up a tangentially-related topic or try to solve a quick family problem between job tasks.
When is the Law an Issue?
Laws addressing the monitoring of employees’ work computer use vary by state. It is vital that a company understand which laws apply before deciding to monitor work computer usage in any given location.
Generally speaking, most US states agree that employees do not have a privacy expectation when using company computing devices. Employers can track and monitor any company-issued property. Outside the office, however, employers may need a “legitimate business purpose” to monitor employees’ computer use, even if employees are using company-issued devices. Clarifying the legitimate business purpose, and communicating it to employees in writing, are a must before a new policy goes into effect.
Ready to learn more?
At Odell Studner, we seek to help businesses manage their teams more effectively and address business risks. To learn more about how we can help you reach your business goals, contact us today.