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Our Approach to Employee Computer Monitoring

With ActivTrak’s software, you can take a collaborative, transparent, and effective approach to employee computer monitoring. Here’s how. 

At ActivTrak, we believe that the best way to help employees stay productive, avoid burnout, and work effectively is to gather user activity data right from the source using employee computer monitoring. That term might make you a little wary, but when you take a collaborative and transparent approach to monitoring and use it for the betterment of your employees, it’s a win for everyone involved.

In this article, you’ll get a closer look at the ActivTrak approach to employee computer monitoring, including an explanation of how computer activity monitoring actually works and why we believe in the critical importance of transparency. You’ll also get some concrete tips for making activity monitoring work for you. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be armed with everything you need to start monitoring employee computer activity in a way that boosts engagement, increases productivity, and creates a healthy work environment.

Choose where to start:

What is Employee Computer Monitoring?

Employee computer monitoring is the collection of workers’ digital activity data by an employer, usually focused on productivity or engagement metrics. This practice is typically done through employee computer monitoring software, which can track activity across a team or an entire organization and deliver workforce insights to managers. 

The type of computer activity data that is tracked and reported varies by solution. Employee computer monitoring can be as simple as time tracking (similar to a clock-in system) or provide more context such as application usage and productivity. The variety of solutions allows managers to choose an employee computer monitoring software that tracks as much or little as they need. More isn’t always better, as extra tracking capabilities can add to the costs and unnecessary tracking may cause privacy concerns among employees.

How Does Employee Computer Monitoring Work?

Think of employee computer monitoring like Google Analytics for your office. The employee computer monitoring software installed in your enterprise gathers user data from your employees, which you can then use to track productivity trends across teams, identify workflow roadblocks, and assess employee engagement or performance. Armed with this data, managers and team leaders can do more to support their employees and help them reach their full potential.

Let’s use ActivTrak’s employee monitoring solution to dig a little deeper into how employee computer monitoring works.

Step 1. The Agent collects data

ActivTrak’s employee computer monitoring software begins with a uniquely coded Agent that is tied to each account. While that Agent is running in the background, it collects data and key metrics and executes responses to user activity. It never tracks keystrokes, takes screenshots, or conducts any kind of video recording. Instead, the Agent senses keyboard and mouse movement in the active windows of the employee’s computer.

Step 2. The Database aggregates data

Once the data is collected by the Agent, it is sent to a set of backend servers in Google Cloud Platform (GCP) through a secure channel. There, the Database aggregates the data according to the user requests, quickly returning the results so they can be displayed. The Database uses the employee computer monitoring software’s data to produce team and account benchmarks that help establish employee activity and productivity baselines.

From there, ActivTrak’s data analytics enrichment identifies both outliers and patterns to help generate insights and identify opportunities for improvement.

Step 3. The Application delivers analysis and insights

With all of the employee computer and productivity data collected and analyzed, ActivTrak’s solution then organizes all of the information in an easy-to-use UI featuring graphical dashboards and reports.

This makes it easy to access detailed insights into workflows and workforce productivity. Those insights then empower managers to create a culture of continuous improvement that encourages healthy work habits and better performance.

How Can Employee Computer Monitoring Software Help Me?

Collaborative and transparent employee computer monitoring enables managers and teams to measure employee productivity trends, assess workload balance and burnout risk, keep a pulse on employee engagement levels for both on-premise and remote workers, use historic benchmarks to both set and track goals for employee productivity, and much more.

Productivity monitoring can also help you answer key questions about your employees’ activity, work habits, and technology usage such as:

  • What does workforce productivity and employee engagement look like for my team?
  • When is employee productivity at its highest?
  • Are my employees consistently engaged and focused during work hours, or are they frequently distracted?
  • How is remote work affecting productivity?
  • Which employees are at risk of burnout, and what can I do to help?

Focusing on Transparency: The ActivTrak Approach

At this point, you might be wondering, “Is one employee monitoring tool better than the other?” We think a better question would be, “Is one approach more collaborative and transparent than the other?” 

Traditional approaches to activity monitoring can only answer basic yes or no questions like “Are my employees working?” Not only do many employee computer monitoring software solutions violate employee trust, but they also don’t even give you the actionable insights you need to create real change in your enterprise. That’s why we like to take a different approach.

Focusing on analytics

Traditional employee monitoring software typically aims to track employees’ activity to see who is and isn’t working without offering any insight into workforce productivity or what a productive employee looks like. Unlike those employee monitoring tools, ActivTrak puts the emphasis on workforce analytics to deliver visibility into your employee productivity and engagement for both remote workers and those that are hybrid or on-premises.

Plus, with ActivTrak’s metrics and analytics, you can identify inefficient workflows, applications that may be interfering with productivity, and more. That information empowers team members to make changes that help them optimize their work time and increase productivity.

Centering employee privacy

One of the biggest concerns that team members typically have when it comes to computer and productivity tracking is privacy. That concern is understandable given that a traditional employee monitoring solution might utilize keystroke logging, webcam video recording, screenshots, and intensive time tracking.

At ActivTrak, employee privacy is our top priority. Our employee monitoring tool is Privacy Shield certified and, more importantly, we designed our platform specifically to respect the privacy of employee data while still delivering critical productivity insights. We don’t think anyone should monitor employees just for the sake of monitoring them. The employee data our software collects is never used to spy on employees’ computers. Instead, it’s focused on business intelligence, operational processes, and overall workforce productivity.

Emphasizing transparency

At ActivTrak, our motto is “insight, not oversight.” A big part of that is focusing on transparency around both on-premises and remote employee computer monitoring to boost employee buy-in and help ensure all your team members understand how activity tracking helps them work wiser.

We recommend that anyone who uses our product communicates openly about the implementation of their activity monitoring program, emphasizing the ways it will be used to help them. This includes boosting employees’ productivity, preventing burnout, optimizing their application usage, and figuring out helpful ways to maximize work time and better understand idle time. It’s also good to promote a sense of ownership over the results of your productivity tracking among your employees, showing them how they can see the results of your activity tracking themselves.

Making Employee Computer Monitoring Software Work for You

When you combine the right tool (a data-driven workforce analytics solution that makes it easy to unlock actionable insights) and the right strategy (the belief that gathering user data is a means to an end and not an end in itself) with open communication, common concerns surrounding employee computer monitoring quickly resolve themselves.

With ActivTrak’s employee computer monitoring solution, you have the power to do all three. Let’s use privacy concerns to glimpse this in action:

  1. The right tool: Choosing the right tool is about more than just functionality. You want a tool that is focused on empowering employees, not spying on them. That’s why ActivTrak’s productivity monitoring platform never logs keystrokes, uses a webcam to take screenshots or video recordings in real-time, or continues to monitor employee computers during idle time after work hours. The right tool focuses on identifying patterns and using data to work better. It collects the data you need to improve productivity and well-being without violating employee privacy or making it seem like you lack trust in your team members, whether they are part of your remote workforce or not.
  2. The right strategy: The right strategy begins by using employee computer monitoring software to collect data, but then it goes further. There’s no denying that employee data is an important piece of the puzzle, but you need to put that data in context. Only then can you really understand what it means and what you can learn from it in order to make positive changes to your employees’ productivity. With ActivTrak, you can go beyond basic metrics to really understand how your employees work so you can make targeted interventions to optimize everything from employee time to workflows. The tool never collects data that isn’t directly in support of that goal.
  3. The right conversation: The last stage of the process is having the right conversation to introduce your productivity tracking program to your employees. This is where we come back to everything discussed in the “Emphasizing transparency” section. You need to be upfront with your employees about what you’re tracking and why. Your activity tracking should be part of an open conversation, so employees feel empowered to ask questions and engage directly with the process. As part of that conversation, it’s also good to encourage ownership of the results of your computer activity monitoring. You should share your collected data so your team members are empowered to make self-driven adjustments and improvements.

Empower Employees While Maintaining Privacy with the Best Employee Computer Monitoring Software

The ActivTrak approach to monitoring employees’ computers is simple: insight, not oversight. The data you can attain from effective productivity monitoring is extremely beneficial whether you’re monitoring remote teams or in-office workers, but it’s critical that you never prioritize productivity increases over employee privacy. Only then can you achieve successful employee monitoring that prioritizes the well-being of team members alongside the success of your business.


  • Remember, not all employee computer monitoring solutions are the same. To improve your company’s productivity levels, opt for a solution that is analytics-focused.
  • Using the right tool, implementing the right strategy, and having the right conversations can mitigate numerous concerns about employee computer monitoring.
  • Transparency is key! Make sure you communicate clearly and often about your monitoring and encourage ownership of the results with your team members.

If you’re interested or currently looking for an employee computer monitoring software solution to implement within your team or organization, check out ActivTrak’s offering. Read about the features and benefits of our employee monitoring software, or request a demo from our team to see it in action.


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