How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work?

  • Tomasz Celler
  • March 20, 2019
  • 6 min read

How does employee monitoring work - TimeCamp Nowadays, with work happening more and more often on computers and using the Internet it’s very likely that your employees can’t avoid distractions and visit non-work related websites as admitted by 64% of US employees. But this problem has been around for decades – even before the Internet developed as we know it now, workers had been finding their ways to avoid deep work. And this is completely natural – human brains have evolved to receive instant gratification and avoid unpleasant feelings. Some of us are more prone to this than others, but in general, we like having fun and don’t like working so much, because it takes effort and the outcome that we see is delayed.

Another mechanism responsible for this behavior is reactance. Reactance is the unpleasant motivational reaction to limiting one’s freedom in any way. In other words, having work that needs to be done limits the freedom to do anything else at that moment, making it feel unpleasant and in the end, making distractive activities like online social shopping or watching youtube videos way more attractive.

Employee monitoring software is a computer program designed to track the activities of employees during their work time and many businesses use it because of the plenty of benefits that employee monitoring brings.

There are various types of employee monitoring software. They are designed for diverse purposes and each of them has different features to offer and works differently.

Read how to track computer usage effectively.

Employee monitoring software for increased productivityEmployee monitoring software for improved productivity - TimeCamp

This kind of employee monitoring software works by providing a better insight into the productivity of your team. It allows you to see whether the work hours are spent on actual work or not.

Most of the software falling into this category provides features such as:

Time tracking

How does it work? You either clock in or download a desktop app to clock in for you when you turn on your computer. Many of apps offering time tracking also offer a mobile app to track time in meetings and work away from your desk. If you’re looking for a good time tracking software you might want to read our top 7 list of the best time tracking apps.

Computer activity monitoring

It collects data that helps you see what websites do your employees visit, what apps do they use and how much time they’re spending on each of these activities.

Activity categorization to productive and unproductive

In many apps, the administrator has to sort computer activities into productive and unproductive manually but some offer automatic categorization. It means that when the software is gathering data about employees activities it automatically assigns categories for them, making reports more readable.

Goal setting

It enables you to set specific goals for your team members. People don’t like leaving their tasks unfinished, we remember them much better than those already done. This effect has its name in psychology – the Zeigarnik effect. A goal setting feature helps you to use psychology to your advantage.

Away from keyboard time recognition

Some time trackers have the option to stop tracking time when employees aren’t using their computers for a specified amount of time.


Last, but not least, goes the most powerful of all the features offered by employee monitoring software designed to increase workers productivity. Reports are different in different tools, but in most cases, they will show you how productive your team is, how much time is spent on unproductive activities and what are your teammates working on.


Employee monitoring software as a surveillance tool

Employee monitoring surveillance tool - how does it work? TimeCamp

This kind of software is designed to protect your interests as an employer and business owner, but it has some legal, ethical and job satisfaction related implications. It works by notifying you about any unwanted activity of your employee or even block them from performing these activities.

Features available in this category of employee monitoring software:

Website and application monitoring

Not only does it track a simple fact of a specific website being visited, or a certain app being opened at any given time, but it also allows you to block websites, add idle time notifications for employees spending too much time on unproductive websites and collects massive amounts of data about all the security risks to help you determine whether you need to upgrade your security protocols.

👉 Read also about Best Time Blocking Apps.

Email and instant message monitoring

Recording both typing and reading emails for playback, as well as block instant messages chats with inappropriate keywords are not the only way in which this feature can perform, but the most common, going hand in hand with blocking emails with specific attachments from being sent.

File transfer and printed documents tracking

This feature helps you to ensure your business secrets are kept safe by your employees. The software will notify you when your employees upload any files into the cloud and cloud monitoring tools can also help you here with this, whether it’s uploaded directly into Google Drive or Dropbox or sent as an attachment. You can also see when, what and who wants to print files in your office.

Screenshots and/or video desktop recordings

It allows you to see exactly what your employees are doing on their computers, by taking screenshots of their desktops with different frequencies. Some software even allows you to live streaming the video of the desktop of your employee.

Keystroke Logger

It records what keys your employee strokes. Together with screenshots or video desktop recordings, it creates a powerful surveillance tool. We know that some companies use it, although there is an ethical debate whether it should be used.

Remote desktop control

It allows you to take control of your employee’s computer. Sometimes it may prove useful, especially for IT specialists trying to fix something on office computers remotely.


Effective management using employee monitoring software

Employee monitoring for effective management - TimeCamp


For businesses employing many workers or remote teams, it’s very helpful to keep management digital. Easily accessible to team members and leaders, providing visibility into management.

👉Read also about Work From Home Monitoring.

Most of this software offers features such as:

Work scheduling

Many applications allow you to assign team members to specific projects and tasks and even schedule deadlines. Usually, the employee is automatically notified about the assigned task.

Attendance tracker

Enables you to track attendance, holidays, days-off and remote work days of your employees. Very often you can both edit the type of day in real time or schedule it.


Employee monitoring software often offers this feature complete with time tracking. It enables you to see the underestimated expenses of hours spent on projects, which cost you real money. Usually, you can budget your projects in time and in money.


You can use the time entries to create invoices, that may be helpful to bill your clients accurately or simply measure the profitability of your projects.


More often than not, your employee monitoring software will have an in-built feature of creating an easy payroll, based on the attendance and hours of work of your employees.


Final thoughts

Despite the debate around the ethics of using employee monitoring software, there is a lot of value in doing so. However, to get the most out of it you have to know how it works. This will help you to decide what you need and how to implement it in your business. What do you think about employee monitoring software? Do you see how could you make use of the features available in different types of employee monitoring software? Let us know in the comments 😉

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