It Costs $7 For Your Boss to Monitor You Working Remotely
Data compiled by Atlas VPN shows that, on average, managers pay $7 to monitor a single employee. Demand for staff monitoring services has increased three times since the beginning of quarantine, the founder and the chief executive of Hubstaff, a well-known tracking software company, reports.
Atlas VPN research team compared the monthly fee of monitoring a single employee offered by six industry leaders. The team also analyzed the features each of the six providers provide.
The cheapest tracking service on the list is Workpuls – it offers to monitor a single employee just for $4,8 a month. EmpMonitor offers the second most affordable solution: their Bronze plan costs $5 per user a month.
The two most optimal choices in the list are Desktime and Hubstaff: both services cost $7 per employee monthly, followed by ActivTrak for $7.2 a month. The most advanced and expensive option on the list is Teramind: the starter pack costs $65 for five staff members a month.
From browsing history tracking to abusive behavior analysis: feature analysis
Atlas VPN research team studied and listed the features that come along with the monthly plan monitoring service offers. Although the pricing of monitoring services is relatively similar, their functionalities differ, and some seem rather intrusive.
One of the main features offered by employee tracking providers is a productivity score calculation. For instance, Hubstaff calculates the score depending on how often the employee types in something or moves the computer mouse.
Meanwhile, Desktime measures your work effectiveness by sorting the websites you visited or applications you used into three categories: unproductive, productive, and neutral. Both ActiveTrak and Teramind even let employers block access to selected sites and services.
Another popular feature is an automated screen capturing: by enabling it managers can retrieve screenshots of their employees' devices. Typically, the programs allow selecting the times you want to capture a person's screen.
Also, five out of six services provide detailed information on websites the employee visits or applications they use. In addition to that, Teramind provides employees' social media usage statistics.
At the same time, half of the services Atlas VPN studied provide automatic time tracking, which allows employers to measure how much time a person spends performing different tasks. Workpuls does not offer the feature, explaining:
"Automatic time tracking is possible in specific industries, but it removes human error from the tracking equation, and allows your employees to focus on the real work instead."
Moving on, Teramind and EmpMonitor services give managers access to your browsing history. Both of them provide keystroke monitoring, meaning everything a person types on their keyboard is recorded.
Finally, ActivTrak gives your manager permission to see the files you send or receive, while Teramind helps you detect insider threats and generates a person's abusive behavior analytics.
Recently, The New York Times posted an article where its author shared his experience testing out Hubstaff himself. Wondering where is the line between motivating your employee and disrespecting their privacy, Adam, the author, says: "To try to answer them, I turned the spylike software on myself."
The article also points out that the number of ordered Hubstaff trials was three times higher than usual in March, as lockdowns began. Dave Nevogt, the founder of Hubstaff, justifies the situation saying watching what your staff does is not intrusive since they know they are being monitored. However, employees rarely have a say in these situations, the article suggests.
Adam, the author, and his editor, Pui-Wing, agreed on a three-week experiment testing the Hubstaff software. Once it ended, they were able to tell that the productivity score the program calculated was not too accurate.
For instance, Adam's productivity for the week reached only 45%, as it did not present the time he spent making calls or doing other tasks away from the computer. Or, Hubstaff showed a score of 22%, although he was working for 14 hours that day.
Another thing Adam and Pui-Wing found wrong with the software is that it was way too invasive. Adam felt humiliated when Hubstaff captured his computer screen when it was playing an online gym class, which raised another concern: what if other screenshots captured his health or financial records?
Meanwhile, the editor, Pui-Wing said she feels uncomfortable seeing this much of someone's personal information.
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.