Digital Surveillance | How Employers Easily Spy on You While Working From Home

How Employers Track Work Performance What is this tracking software called?


Rene Eliz

3 years ago | 4 min read

I am a curious kitty who loves to explore the digital world! March 2020 a previous employer decided that it would be a great time to shift staff from working in the office to working from home.

Prior to the pandemic, staff already wanted to work from home and the ultimate bonus was that the business was already set-up to work remotely; so the transition was rather smooth.

But how do employees’ work performance get monitored and how is the software implementation process determined? Some staff are not made aware of any tracking software, so I decided to write this article in order to share one of the latest things I have learned along my digital journey.

While working from home has its many perks, employers must also find new and creative ways to monitor and track an employee’s performance. Unfortunately, a lot of employers do not disclose this information to their employees even though they should. This article provides a brief insight into how employers are able to successfully track and monitor their employees as they work from home or anywhere around the world.

How Employers Track Work Performance
What is this tracking software called?

There are 2 known terms that are associated with this tracking method used.

  1. employee-monitoring software*
  2. tattleware*
  • NOTE: Although this method has 2 specific terms associated with it, this type of software is often advertised as “time-tracking” technology.

What can this employee-monitoring software do?

*NOTE: there are many more software features not mentioned below, however these are some of the main tools and features used within the software.

  • tracking the websites an employee has visited
  • monitoring how long an employee spends writing an email
  • automated screenshots of an employee’s screen
  • tracking and pinpointing an employee’s GPS location
  • recording keystrokes and mouse activity
  • spying over the employee’s webcam


Has your employer informed you of the employee-monitoring software they use? Due to privacy concerns and privacy laws, employers should be informing their employees of the software usage, however this is not always done.

If you are an employee, be inquisitive; it does not hurt to inform your employer about any privacy concerns or even request a copy of a privacy policy that covers these concerns while working from home. If they are hesitant to answer or follow any of the 4 tips mentioned below, chances are they are not fully compliant with privacy laws.

Below are 4 ethical tips that every single employer should practice.

1. Determine and establish reasonable grounds.
There are many benefits to employers who utilize or are considering employee-monitoring software, but it is best to consider what the ultimate rationale and goals are for implementing and utilizing the software and whether that rationale and goal justifies the use of the software.

There are many concerns regarding privacy, security, safety and property damage that are usually considered reasonable concerns upon which an employer may justify the use of employee-monitoring software.

Utilizing this type of software as a measure of performance and productivity of employees can be harder to justify, but may be considered reasonable in some circumstances. One example is video surveillance. We see cameras everywhere and it can be very beneficial for employees and employers to safeguard work premises and employee safety.

Another example is GPS tracking on work devices which can provide helpful information in locating employees in emergencies such as community nurses.
The more monitoring and surveillance that is being implemented (such as increased tracking capabilities) the more thorough the justification will need to be in order to have the increased tracking capabilities even considered and in compliance with privacy laws.

2. Disclose the employee-monitoring activity to the employees.
A good practice for employers is to disclose the monitoring activity to the employees who are being monitored. While employers have the right to track work performances and other data, not disclosing the monitoring activities can create some legal issues. Outline a detailed statement to justify the use of the software and the information being tracked and collected.

3. Create a policy and stick to it.
Create a clear and detailed policy that outlines the monitoring, as well as the use and disclosure of the data that will be collected on each employee.

The ability to enforce the monitoring and tracking policy will depend on a few factors such as the disclosure of the activity, the actual compliance of the policy in regards to privacy applicable laws as well as the extent to which the policy is actually implemented.

To make the implementation process more smooth, employers should inform employees of the new monitoring policy prior to deploying the software. This is to minimize any dispute or complaints against the employer in regards to employee monitoring and privacy concerns.

4. Obtain consent from every employee.
Obtaining consent is actually a bonus to the business! Employers seeking to deploy any monitoring software should obtain consent, for the collection and use of employee monitoring activities.
Include a written consent in the policy that can be signed both by the employer and employee. While both parties will sign a document that outlines and discloses the monitoring activities, this does not guarantee that either party will be compliant.

If any legal issues do arrive in the future, having a signed consent as well as detailed policy can be a key factor in determining, whether the use of the software was “reasonable”or not under the privacy act.


  1. Hubstaff (top rated in 2020)*
  2. Time Doctor (top rated in 2020)*
  3. ActivTrak
  4. Teramind
  5. Controlio
  6. Veriato Cerebral


Created by

Rene Eliz







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