10 Things Employers Can Track on a Laptop
Technology has revolutionized how we do business. Your employees can work faster and more efficiently than ever before and do it in more places. Most people do not even need to be in an office. They can do their jobs while at home or on-site with a client. All they need is a computer or laptop with the appropriate business-oriented apps.
However, that same technology comes with severe downsides. While they’re more productive, they also have a lot more distractions as well. These distractions can lead to reduced productivity, higher security risks, and greater vulnerability to regulatory and financial liabilities. Fortunately, employers can track certain employee activities through their laptops and other computer devices.
Things Employers Can Track on Their Employee’s Laptops
Most companies are not equipped to handle remote workers. This is despite having to do for the past few years. Luckily, managing remote teams is similar to running an in-office team. While remote management may not come naturally to you, you can do it if you have the right tools and understanding.
Trust and security are among the most important aspects of remote management. They are also the most difficult to do right.
With remote employees, you do not have a way to visually see who is working and who is not. Fortunately, there are ways employers can track their employees through their computers, especially if they use company-provided laptops. However, too much surveillance can be a privacy violation.
Therefore, you will want to know exactly what you can track on the laptops and the right way to track them. The first part is easy. With appropriate tracking and monitoring software installed on those laptops, you can track all or some of the following things and activities.
1. Personal Email
Work email is not private. As such, employers can track anything sent to and through any company email address. Because of this, you can monitor any email program located on your worker’s laptops during work hours. You can monitor the contents and the recipient of any email that passes through a laptop.
However, you cannot monitor email from your employee’s electric devices, such as their phones or their laptops, without permission. Those emails are considered private. Fortunately, this restriction does not apply to company computers. You can freely track personal email activity conducted via a company laptop, even if it was sent through a web portal such as Gmail.
Therefore, you may want to warn your employees of your company’s email monitoring policy before you track them. This warning should help mitigate any confusion.
2. Blogging and Social Media Use
As an employer, you can track and record when your employees use their laptops to post to social media and what they posted. While your employees are allowed to post whatever they want on their time, you can use this information to restrict what they can post during work hours.
Some states may protect any legal employee conduct, but these protections are not universal. Although you cannot discriminate or discipline them based on what they post, your employees are not protected by the First Amendment, despite their claims that they are. As such, you are free to do with the tracking information as you see fit. This is especially true in at-will states.
Whether it is for something local or online, employers can track any search conducted on a laptop. You can track and record what was searched when it was searched, and how it was searched, as well as the search results. The choice of the search engine is irrelevant as well. You can easily track any searches done using both the Windows search tool and Google.
4. General Web Activity
Besides email and social media, employers can track any web activity that takes place on their laptops. You can intercept and record every URL log that passes through your network. You can even get notifications if an employee uses certain keywords or visits certain websites. You can track web activity in two ways.
You can monitor by proxy through a central router. This method is best when your employees use your company’s network to access the internet. Your employees also have no reason to expect privacy using this method as well. It is your service. So, you make the rules.
However, you are not restricted to just your network. You can track web activity on any network with the appropriate tracking software on the laptop in question. Although, there might be limitations on what you can track, especially if it is your employee’s personal computer.
5. Applications Used
Along with web activity, you can monitor what applications your employees use on their laptops. This data will allow you to see which employees are working on business-related tasks, and who is doing something else. You can even track how often your employees switch between different applications, giving you a simple way to measure distractions and other performance issues.
6. GPS and Other Location Data
Provided the laptop has the necessary hardware, you can track its Global Positioning System (GPS) location. In some cases, you can also get a picture of the location through the camera. You may even get this data if you use multiple routers on your network by monitoring which router the laptop connects to when it goes online. You can even do this while the laptop is in Incognito Mode.
Knowing a laptop’s location has numerous advantages. You can track the location of its owner, letting you know where your employees are at all times. For instance, it will let you know if your employee is heading to a work site, taking breaks, or slacking off during work hours. It will even allow you to quickly recover the laptop if it gets stolen.
7. Time Spent on Projects
With the right software, you can track how much time your employees spend on their work projects. You can use this information as a virtual timecard or as a general assessment of productivity. Either way, you get a sense of security and assurance that your employees are indeed doing their jobs and not just using their laptops for play.
You can even set it up so that your workers can temporarily stop the tracking for breaks and accidental clicks. This level of control would ensure trust between you and your employees, making remote work a worthwhile endeavor for everyone.
You can track when anyone logs into a laptop as well as any service your employee logins into using it. Depending on the tracking software, you can then link these logins with desktop screenshots and photos from the camera. Together, these records can give you a snapshot of how your employees spend their time.
9. Keyboard and other Input Devices
Often called keylogging, tracking input devices is one of the more interesting things employers can do with a laptop. It is also the easiest way to break privacy regulations. So, you should only do it if you have a good reason to do it.
Keylogging lets you know what is happening on the computer in real-time. You will know every keyboard key that was pressed and any time the mouse or trackpad moves. In some cases, you will even know if your employee attached an external device such as a USB drive to the laptop. You would know what your employees are doing as they are doing it.
It does leave the laptop vulnerable to hackers and network breaches. So, you want to fully trust your tracking software If you plan on using keylogging in your surveillance policy.
10. Webcam Use
If the laptop has a camera and it is enabled, you can also receive live photos and videos from it. As such, you can know exactly who is using the computer. However, camera tracking is useless if something is blocking the camera lens, or the camera was disabled. Therefore, you should discuss your company’s camera use with your employees before you start watching them.
How Employers Can Track Their Employees Through Their Laptops
Tracking your staff is not new. Companies have done it for decades. However, it is much easier to do now than ever. More than 80 percent of all large corporations track their employees through their electronic devices in some way.
Monitoring your employees is so easy because of the many options you have to do it. Some of these methods will let you track people without needing specialized software. Although, most ways require some cooperation from the employee, including some of the following.
- Keylogging software – Keyloggers monitor and record keystrokes from a keyboard including anything that was typed or deleted, how fast they were typed, and passwords.
- Remote monitoring tools – These tracking programs track what employees do on their laptops by mirroring it on a desktop in the office. They can record which website the employee visits as well as photos, videos, and audio recordings of the employee without them knowing about it. They can even track when the employee is away from the laptop.
- Biometric tracking – These programs randomly take pictures from the laptop’s built-in camera to record the mental health of employees as they perform certain tasks.
- Email and calendar monitoring – Useful for tracking email use as well as scheduled meetings.
- Chat monitoring – Communication tools such as Slack record all public and private communication that goes through them.
- GPS tracking – Tracks and monitors the location of the laptop.
- Mobile device managers (MDM) – MDM gives you full control over the laptop, including wiping out the drives in case it was lost or stolen.
Restrictions on What Employers Can Track
Despite the buzzwords you may have heard, employers cannot just monitor and record everything their employees do. However, most states agree that employees have no expectations of privacy at work. As such, you can track how your employees use their laptops, provided that your efforts do not violate any local law.
With that said, you have the right to track and monitor company-issued property, including the laptops you offer to your staff. You can monitor both what happens on those laptops and how they are used. For instance, you can look at the private email your employees sent from them or through your network.
However, you can only freely monitor your employees while at work. Outside of work, you must have a legitimate business reason, even from company equipment. As a result, while you are generally allowed to track location, most states place restrictions on everything else. Even then, you may not even be allowed to track location on days your employees have no expectations to work such as weekends.
Use Tracking Software That Keeps You Compliant
Fortunately, a reputable employee monitoring tool such as Wolfeye can help you track these devices while remaining compliant with all local laws and regulations. With this tool, you know how productive your employees are and where they can improve, ensuring that you always get the best returns on your investments.
Some notable benefits of using a tool like Wolfeye include:
- East to install on any laptop – The simple installation process allows anyone to install the client app on their laptop. It also works on both Windows and iOS, making it compatible with most laptops on the market. The server app is equally versatile and will work with most networks.
- Ethical security – uses a highly secure communication channel to reduce your risk of data breaches. Can be configured to only delete company information from a stolen or lost personal device. Can be linked to a backup solution if data recovery is required.
- Builds trust through transparency – Helps make it clear to your employee what you are tracking and when. Employees can also manually add and update records in case the monitoring failed to capture everything they were doing, ensuring that the tool accurately captures how the employees spend their days.
Developing a culture of trust and accountability offers much more sustainable results, but Wolfeye will easily fill the gaps. With the right policies in place, the monitoring tool will help you track your staff’s accomplishments while keeping your data and equipment secure.
Concerned with security and staff performance, employers can track and gather information about their employees from their laptops such as the 10 items above. However, you must do it ethically and legally to ensure that your employees trust you. Luckily, tracking software tools such as Wolfeye can keep you compliant.