In 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many employees switched to remote work. And it looks like this is the new standard. Companies expect their staff to be productive, but many employees have children and other distractions at home that interfere with their work. Thus, the line between work and personal life is slowly becoming blurred.
Company managers have to monitor employees’ work more frequently, and this process is getting more complex. Employee concentration is no longer the main factor in evaluating their productivity. The pandemic has introduced new rules, however, employees still have to move toward common goals.
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Employee monitoring software tools help companies organize their work, keep statistics on work hours, and maintain productivity. When large companies hire new employees, they need to make sure employees are ready to observe, learn, and support. Statista cites this as a major objective in the hiring process, and advanced technology helps meet such tasks.
In this article, we provide information about the top 10 employee activity monitoring tools designed to maximize productivity. With their help, companies can get the most out of their employees, maintain stable productivity, and secure corporate information.
For large corporations with thousands of employees, the monitoring tools below will give full control and the ability to track employee activity. If you are looking for full-fledged monitoring tools and systems, read on to find the best one for your business.
What is Employee Monitoring Software?
Employee monitoring doesn’t just mean tracking office hours or managing schedules and workloads. Software tools in this review can monitor keyboard activities, locations, and take screenshots. They’re designed for large-scale businesses and track on-site activity, offering a variety of customizations.
Such tools allow you to track worker productivity, which can be especially challenging when working from home, where there are many distractions. This disrupts the pre-existing workforce structure, plus, a lot of monitoring tools also require a change in the settings to be really effective.
System administrators can segment tools into productive and non-productive groups to analyze different teams, departments, and individual employees. It’s essential to have access to user settings and grouping because one tool can be productive/unproductive for different functions. For example, social media managers spend their time on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, etc. Sales managers, however, are not supposed to go there. Instead, they may be working on sales automation or CRM platforms.
This activity data should be collected at a macro level and shown on admin and manager dashboards with detailed reports that have various performance metrics. This is to analyze such data and find the best/worst employees or compare different departments in terms of their performance when working on projects.
Often, employee monitoring tools allow you to quickly understand different metrics via charts, get lists of leaders with active and inactive hours, and understand what applications employees use most often.
Keystroke monitoring is also important. This allows you to gauge employee activity. When there is a detailed analysis of how often employees are typing and interacting with the computer, this data can be compared to screenshots, activity records, audits, and other in-depth monitoring tools.
High-quality monitoring tools allow you to build a detailed profile of your employees’ online activities. Some tools can even “tell” you when a certain key was pressed on the keyboard. This data can then be compared to other parameters to find out what employees were doing, when, and why.
The All-Seeing Eye
Sometimes, employee monitoring tools are installed incognito, sometimes they “lurk” in running processes under other names – the best employee monitoring tools can see everything that’s happening on the computer, from running applications to who a person is chatting with and what they’re texting.
Some monitoring tools also imply using automated actions like keyword triggers and guides that show administrators that users are doing something illegal. With an advanced automation system, the software can create various warnings and triggers for pattern searches and turn employee violations into reports that can then be used for disciplinary actions.
It all starts with screenshots and settings for employee screen recording options. Depending on the monitoring tool, company managers can set up rules for taking screenshots at specific intervals. For example, every hour, every 15 minutes, or even every 10 seconds (or less). Some tools support continuous video recording, where an administrator can live-check an employee’s computer or receive time-stamped recordings over a certain period.
Some tools allow you to play, pause, and download screenshots. Saved screenshots can contain metadata and be embedded through the dashboard to display user activity in reviews or investigations. The list of functionality is large and continues to grow with employees being able to use different devices for work.
Problems remain because of the human factor. It takes time for administrators of such programs to check hundreds or thousands of screenshots during the workday. In addition to images, monitoring tools can look at every app, file, message, and even words or other data from an employee’s screen in detail. The most advanced enterprise monitoring tools have optical character recognition on the user’s screen and keyword analysis.
By recognizing or monitoring an employee’s desktop or apps, most monitoring tools can read emails, chats, and other personal, and team communication tools. They search for specific keywords and other parameters.
This applies to tracked documents and file name scans. Monitoring tools often capture attached documents or files so administrators can view them. If management wants to know that employees are discussing them in conversations among themselves, they can create automated keyword triggers and receive notifications and reports.
Rule-based automation tools can be tailored to different parameters of user behaviour. For example, rules can be created so that employees can’t send company data through personal communication channels or download apps/files that network administrators haven’t approved.
Not all software tools can provide this kind of deep automation. Those that can, are capable of creating alerts to stop users or alerts and records to qualify users’ actions and behaviours for risk and potential problems. If necessary, administrators can step in and stop users.
With that said, the following questions arise: does management supervise employees to improve productivity and efficiency? Do they need full oversight of employees and what they do and say during work hours? Depending on the needs of the organization, the choice of monitoring tools and their use vary.
How to Use Employee Monitoring Tools?
In this article, we’ve included 10 best employee monitoring tools that range from the simplest time-tracking programs to full-featured digital surveillance systems. For example, Hubstaff and Time Doctor track time and have some more in-depth features. These can be a GPS feature to track users at a facility or notes, screenshots, app monitoring, and URLs visited.
These tools track websites and applications visited, take screenshots, track keystrokes and files, and create alerts. These capabilities are designed to improve productivity, not monitor compliance with company policies. The data is then converted into reports and displayed in dashboards where various parameters can be analyzed.
There are platforms that provide deeper monitoring, automation, and data collection. These include InterGuard, Teramind, and Veriato 360. These are effective internal monitoring systems, and their effectiveness depends on how deep the administrator wants to “dig” and how extensive automation is to be implemented. Extensive monitoring functions in such tools allow generating the reports and analyzing data.
Price and Licenses
In most cases, the price of monitoring tools depends on the number of users to be monitored. The more users, the higher the cost, however, some services offer discounts for larger organizations. Tools like InterGuard and Veriato 360 have additional modules with advanced functionality. If you want a one-time purchase app instead of a monthly or yearly subscription, some service providers offer per-user licenses. However, installation is done locally on the organization’s computers.
For monitoring large corporations, this review considers Teramind. ActivTrak is better suited for small and medium-sized organizations with a focus on productivity. InterGuard and Veriato 360 have a relatively rich set of features and monitoring, while Teramind stands out by its level of automation. The latter also provides a more intuitive cloud-based user interface compared to InterGuard and Veriato 360. It also has the easiest agent installation and admin panel setup.
ActivTrak is the best choice for organizations where maximum Teramind-level monitoring is not required. It’s a simple platform with productivity tracking and performance metrics, analogous to Google Analytics. With that out of the way, let’s get to monitoring tools.
Best Employee Activity Tracking Software in 2021
Each of the solutions presented below is suitable for a certain task type. Read on to find the ones that will fit your business structure.
ActivTrak is a cloud-based service for monitoring employees. It allows you to analyze the daily activity and behaviour of the staff at their computers. The tool is constantly updated and develops rapidly, offering an intuitive interface and solid monitoring capabilities. According to various sources, $20 million has been allocated for its development in 2020.
To install ActivTrak, you should simply create an account and install agents on the computers you intend to monitor. The server part of the program is automatically installed on the cloud.
- Monitoring employee activity (screenshot recording, video export, etc.)
- Automatic alarm notifications
- Flexible customization. Set notifications by screenshot types
- Privacy features
- Monitor employees’ corporate emails
- Plenty of reports on working hours
- Fully cloud-based version
- Two-factor authentication
- Integration with Active Directory
- Apps for iOS and Android
- Block unwanted websites and apps
ActivTrak is available at an affordable price and somewhat reminiscent of Google Analytics in terms of its dashboard. The tool is suitable for any type of medium to large business, but most of all – to FinTech companies.
InterGuard Employee Monitoring software allows you to track and record all of your employee’s computer and phone activities. It was originally designed to allow businesses to track their employees’ activities, prevent data theft, and develop emergency response technology.
The app stores all data related to employee activity in the main interface, even when there’s no network connection. The stored data includes all employee activities, which are carefully analyzed to create logs, replay, alerts, audit trails. and behavioural standardization. The employer can view all messages, social media, emails, files, programs, browser history, printed materials, and even geo-location (helpful for tracking planned routes for deliveries).
InterGuard logs all system enterprises to produce readable data that can be used for alerts, reports, and searches. It also controls data access by blocking any unauthorized requests and monitors those apps and users that are associated with sensitive data. This also includes data channels, routed to them, and final locations of the recipients. Apart from that, the tool also learns about any DLP policy violations that may occur and block them.
- Performance monitoring. InterGuard provides quantitative measures of time spent on websites and apps that you consider productive/unproductive.
- Employee investigations. InterGuard logs all employee computer activity, providing evidence in case you need to act fast in terms of internal, criminal, or civil investigations.
- An invisible InterGuard agent can be deployed silently and remotely so the purpose of the investigation is not disclosed.
- Insider Threat Detection. Ensure that your employees are not abusing your trust with employee monitoring software. Get alerts on suspicious activity and stop data filtering before a malicious or careless employee causes a data breach from within.
3. Veriato 360
Veriato offers an app with the ability to collect large amounts of data, provide reports, and automatic incident response for screen recording. It’s an easy-to-use tool for large organizations, but there’s no cloud option.
Veriato 360 is the flagship product of the company for centralized monitoring of employee activity, providing a high-level view of how employees are using their work PCs and the Internet. The tool allows you to inspect the work activities of your entire organization with easy-to-use graphical charts.
Veriato 360 includes tools for automated deployment and remote management. It records a variety of activities, including email correspondence, chats, instant messages, websites visited, searches, keystrokes, and apps used. The tool is also a solution for recording screen images in camcorder mode.
- Full control over data collection
- Screen recording with playback
- Customizable alerts and reports
- Keyword tracking
- Quick reports. Veriato 360 fills the database with information received about activity from each user’s computer and provides more than 75 built-in, easy-to-read, versatile quick reports
- File tracking and email capture. Veriato 360 provides a complete record of all emails received/sent, including attachments
- Simple admin interface
- Automated grouping by behaviour, anomaly detection, incident response;
- Performance tracking
- Synchronization with Active Directory
Teramind is a powerful software suite for employee monitoring, internal threat detection, and performance optimization in the workplace. Teramind combines the functions of a time tracking system (EMS) and an information leak prevention system (DLP).
- Flexible plans. Depending on your needs, you can choose between the Starter, UAM, or DLP plans
- User-friendly dashboard interface
- Video recording of employee monitors. Ability to view monitors based on user activity
- Mic-recording ability
- User-friendly tools for comprehensive email monitoring
- Behavioural analysis of users and Flexible risk adjustment
- DLP system functions
- User-friendly, informative demo version
The installation process for the cloud is standard. You create an account, download the agent, and install it on your employees’ PCs. After that, the data appears on the dashboard. On-Premise deployment, though, is more time-consuming.
Teramind is focused on large companies, whose tasks include not only analysis of employee productivity but also protection of corporate information.
5. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is an employee time-tracking system with advanced features. You can expect invoicing in the mobile app and integration with third-party services such as Asana. Just like Hubstaff, the tool is suitable for companies that have remote employees or working with freelancers.
Time Doctor contains many useful features, from online monitoring of employees to time tracking and project management. The interface looks somewhat outdated, but it’s still a solid platform that definitely deserves attention.
Time Doctor is designed for a wide user audience, whether remote employees (even one freelancer) or engineers developing software at large companies like Apple and Verizon.
- Ease of use and accurate capturing of productive and unproductive time
- Integration with Trello, Slack, Asana, GoogleApps, GitHub, Bitrix24, Zoho CRM, etc
- Works with all popular platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
- Takes screenshots from users’ webcams
Time Doctor program is often referred to as an analogue of Hubstaff because it too is focused on controlling the work of remote employees. The tool offers a bit of everything, including project management and time tracking.
This is a time tracking and time management system aimed primarily at remote workers. Monitask is an easy-to-use time tracking software designed for remote groups of employees that includes automatic schedules and screenshots of employee workstations as proof of work done. Screenshot monitoring is completely transparent to employees, and they control when monitoring starts and when it stops. It’s also suitable for recording the efficiency of office employees.
Monitask consists of two parts:
- Client (Desktop App). This application is designed for Windows OS. It allows you to enter the system with your login and password. You can set the current project, task, run a time report or pause it. The application collects screenshots and sends them to the server. Each screenshot is accompanied by a description of the time it was taken. You can see what project and task the screenshot belongs to. All the information transferred can be edited on the Monitask server.
- Server (Website). This is the place where all information about employees, projects, and screenshots is stored. Information is available in the form of reports and screenshot gallery. User settings are set individually or for a team. Employees can edit their information, and supervisors can edit any information sent to the server.
- Monitoring screenshots to confirm a remote employee’s work
- Online monitoring panel – see who is currently working and what they are working on
- Detailed team reports (time spent on projects, days of the week, activity, software used, etc.)
- Access to the employee’s individual statistics (screenshots, activity, programs used in work)
- Invite new employees (via email)
- Customize settings for each employee individually or for an entire team
- Paid rates – the ability to set individual rates for each user
- Automatic timesheets – precise timesheets, accurate to the minute
- Adding projects and assigning them to employees
- Manual start/pause time tracking
- Ability to specify current tasks and projects
- Set time manually (if allowed by privacy settings)
- Delete unnecessary screenshots and time (if allowed by privacy settings)
WorkPuls is an automatic time tracking program that provides insights into how employees spend their work time at their computers. It’s an ideal solution for monitoring, analyzing productivity, and tracking time spent on various projects. With WorkPuls, managing your remote workforce becomes much easier. The tool is suitable for small businesses, enterprises, and remote teams.
- Real-time employee performance tracking – see what apps or websites your employees are using at the moment
- Screenshots – automatically takes screenshots as proof of work time and attendance
- In/out and overtime automatic recordings
- Timekeeping – access all data retroactively so you can analyze everything later
- Payroll integration with PayPal, Payoneer, and Quickbooks
- Employee Login – allows employees to access their own performance-related data
- Client Login – client access to data for employees or virtual assistants who are working on their tasks/projects
- Real-time overview
- Data policy
- Tracking computer activity
- Timekeeping functions
- Verified attendance
- Sensitive information security
- User Behavior Analysis (UBA)
8. Ekran System
Ekran System is an insider threat management platform known for its intelligent incident reporting system and advanced monitoring tools for IT-system managers. The system’s main advantage is its versatility – it combines activity monitoring, access control, and user identification, providing lightweight software agents for all types of endpoints.
You can expect full desktop and server OS support, reliable protection from insider threats, and a low cost of ownership. Manage identities, collect evidence, get useful notifications, investigate incidents, respond to them, and do so much more with the Ekran System.
This powerful tool is primarily aimed at controlling the productivity of your colleagues in the workplace. Kickidler features an advanced timekeeping system, including control over vacations, sick leave, business trips, lunchtime, and breaks. Kickidler also offers a production calendar to create a work schedule for a team.
- Total control over the working time of employees
- Analysis of each employee’s efficiency and identification of the most productive workers, presented in graphs and bar charts
- Ability to monitor remotely in real-time
- Detection of irregularities during the work process
- View employee screenshots in real-time
- Timekeeping: total hours worked, in/out time, productive/unproductive time
- Production calendar to maintain the work schedule
- Histogram of workplace violations (activities, such as job searching or visiting entertaining websites, not related to work, will be defined as violations)
- Work efficiency statistics (find out at what time the team’s productivity decreases/increases, and which of the employees works more efficiently)
- Control over apps used
This tool is designed to specifically address the needs of organizations that employ non-desk workers and field forces. NuovoTeam is an all-in-one productivity application for non-desk workers, frontline workforce and essential workers. It enables the organizations to keep a close try on employee productivity, schedule and assign tasks for each employee while facilitating team communication and collaboration.
- Quickly assign tasks to the workforce within the corporate directory
- Keep a track of employee location
- Facilitate team communication, collaboration and file transfer
- Communicate important information by broadcasting messages
- Personalize dashboard for easy navigation
- Centralized corporate directory
- Work schedule and task assigning to the employees
- App-based employee clock in and out
- Real-time location tracking
- Communication over VoIP calls, instant messaging and group chats
- Role-based dashboard access
How to Choose the Best Employee Monitoring Solution?
In order to choose a high-quality employee tracking software tool, first of all, you need to have a clear goal. If you just need to keep track of the productive (and unproductive) time of your remote employees for payroll purposes, it will be enough to install simple time trackers without additional features. However, if you want to track all of your team’s activities, keep constant screen recordings, monitor all apps and websites used by your team, and prevent data leakage, you should choose an all-in-one solution, which is totally worth your investments.
Make sure you read all the terms and conditions carefully – some monitoring tools offer a license only after entering a contract with the manager to protect yourself from prohibited use of the tool. For example, this can be installing an agent on the PC without notifying the user.
Don’t forget about ratings on review sites to understand if the chosen tool is worth installing. That’s where you can find detailed information on pros and cons, and read about the company’s overall experience.
We hope this review will help you find the best solution to maintain reliable control over your remote employees and boost your organization’s productivity. If you have any experience in using such tools (or similar options), please, feel free to share it below in the comments.
By the way, if you’re only planning to launch a business entity, say, form an LLC, before you hire employees and get to monitoring tools, you might want to check this list of the 7 best services to help you with LLC formation. This is where you can learn about companies like ZenBusiness, IncFile, Northwest Registered Agent, and other reliable online formation services to help you do everything right from the start, saving your precious time (and even money, in the long run).
If you don’t want to handle all the paperwork by yourself, if you doubt that you have enough knowledge to cover the legal issues related to your new business, you might want to check the article to save yourself from all future risks.