How to successfully monitor your employees Internet usage

Monitoring internet usage at work might seem heavy handed or even draconian -  trying to curb personal internet usage and wasted time at work is generally hard to police.  Blocking particular websites, or tracking the sites visited by employees is usually problematic and most approaches don’t prevent wasted time.  Before we tell you why, consider the following…

This problem is HUGE. Wasted time at work is one of, if not the most important challenge facing companies all over the world. The cost to business each year is in the billions.

In an their annual “Wasting Time at Work” survey, Salary.com found that sixty-four percent of respondents report wasting one hour or less each day, 22% waste approximately 2 hours daily, and 14% waste 3 or more hours each workday. Personal Internet use topped the list as the leading time-wasting activity according to 48 percent of respondents.

Time wasted at work

More recently, a UK based employment site MyJobGroup.co.uk surveyed 1,000 British workers and found that almost 6 percent of them spent over an hour a day using social media of some kind, including Facebook. This is roughly one-eighth of their workday. By extension, about 2 million of Britain’s 34-million-person workforce likely were doing the same, costing the British economy about 14 billion pounds in lost productivity.

So how are businesses waging war against wasted time and cyber-slacking?  Banning internet usage, or certain sites or monitoring internet activity are some of the more typical  approaches used in corporate Internet monitoring – all of these methods are flawed;

Banning the Internet at work – this is obviously not going to be effective in most work places as the Internet is essential for nearly all business at some level.

Banning certain web sites such as Facebook – this is also not a good approach for several reasons. Firstly the ban is not likely to be comprehensive (Facebook isn’t the only website that wastes time). Secondly the person may need to use social media sites for work purposes. Thirdly it  doesn’t allow staff to use the Internet for personal reasons during their lunch break for example.

Monitoring employee internet activity – this also not effective for a few reasons. For starters, it is more and more common for workers to spend part of their day on their home computer, their laptop or to work remotely, whilst on the train etc. Also even if Internet is monitored on their work computer, staff can most likely browse the Internet on their iPhone or another portable device.

A different approach to managing personal internet usage at work

Time Doctor is more effective than other employee internet monitoring software options and has a completely unique approach.

In essence, Time Doctor monitors the web sites visited during work hours only and then sends this information to the manager and the employee in a simple weekly report into their email. There are several advantages to monitoring employee Internet usage this way:

1. It’s a very simple weekly email report with all the websites included in one email. This information can be used for improvements in productivity, not just to prevent personal internet use at work. The report is very easy to read, and only needs to be reviewed once per week so it doesn’t take long for management to review it.

2. This method works ONLY when the person is working, and not when they are on a break. It means that the person can use the Internet for personal reasons during their lunch break and it won’t be recorded.

3. This method can be used for remote working employees on the person’s home computer. As there is the ability to use any personal websites when not working, the software can be used on personal computers as it is totally inactive when the person is “on a break”.

4. Time Doctor also will proactively remind staff not to use potentially non work related web sites during working hours. For example if the person says they are working on “accounting task” and they visit Facebook it will pop up and ask – are you still working on “accounting task”? This means the person will be reminded that they shouldn’t be using  Facebook, but they still have the option to if it’s work related.

5. The weekly report of Internet Usage focuses on only websites that were used more than 10 minutes during that week. This is important so that management are focusing on the big details, and are not worried about an employee visiting Facebook for only 30 seconds during that entire week (This is 10 minutes of cumulative time during the week).

6. Time Doctor has a number of other benefits especially recording the exact use of time for staff members which means that employees and management are aware of where time was spent.

7. So other than being used to track employee internet usage, Time Doctor will help in a multitude of other ways to improvement the staff member’s time management skills.

6 Comments

  1. gorhouees July 22, 2014

    I have heard about employee monitoring software such as Micro Keylogger tracks employee activities like keystrokes typed, websites visited and the screenshots of desktop to monitor your employee’s internet usage.

  2. Aliasgar Babat December 20, 2012

    You can use Websense Internet access management system in order to monitor, report and manage internal Internet use. Also, if you wish to monitor computers remotely, I would suggest installing on premise remote support appliance such as RHUB appliances to remotely monitor employees computers.

  3. Fred May 19, 2011

    I believe that the computer I use at work belongs to whoever bought it, and I assume no right to privacy when I am somewhere other than my home, or when I’m using someone else’s computer. Allowing employees to disable monitoring solutions on a business computer opens the business up for a major breach in security. Surely, you have a personal cell phone you could use to contact loved ones and conduct private matters with.

    I find it highly ungrateful to think that the computer you use at work is your personal, private computer. First, you have a job. Secondly, you can use a computer at work. Third, someone pays you to use their computer, they ought to have complete control over how the machine is used so that if you were to leave the company for any reason (perhaps you’ve started your OWN business where you’ve bought computers for your employees to use) the computer can still be used by a new employee without any trace of your personal life.

    Idk, something about your invasion of privacy statement rubbed me the wrong way. Most employers have you sign a waiver stating that you will be monitored, so find/start a business that is not concerned with monitoring their computers, and you will see the dangers in allowing employees to use company computers for personal reasons.

    • Frank April 9, 2012

      I completely agree with you 100%. If someone is on a work computer that is all it should be used for. If a company is gracious enough to let you use it for private matters then I guess that’s alright too, I wouldn’t recommend it though….Allowing your employees to use company resources for personal matters is all kinds of trouble… whether they are on personal time or not why would you want to open your company network up to websites that constantly have malware on them at any point? Seems silly to me…

    • Jim July 30, 2014

      I have an employee who clock overtime is they spend 15 minutes over their 8 hours. I have no problem with that but have recently learned that she is visiting facebook throughout the day. As far as I am concerned, she is stealing from me because I am paying her overtime when she could be getting her job done if she wasn’t visiting facebook. How is it an invasion of privacy f my employee is guilty of theft?

  4. admin April 13, 2011

    For the record:

    We don’t believe in stealth monitoring and believe it is an invasion of privacy. We believe in the following two principles:

    a) Employees should know who is monitoring them and have access to all information that is monitored
    b) Employees should be able to TURN OFF monitoring when in a lunch break, for example if they want to contact their loved ones and do not want this personal communication monitored by their boss.

    Companies who do not follow these principles we believe are invading the privacy of their employees.

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