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Remote Work Monitoring Done Right

Team learning about workforce analytics and employee monitoring
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Traditional remote work monitoring can often feel like spying or micromanaging. At ActivTrak, we take a different approach — one that supports remote employees and helps them work wiser. Learn more. 

After the coronavirus pandemic began, organizations across the globe discovered the many benefits of having a remote workforce. We’ve also seen a subsequent rise in remote worker monitoring tools designed to help managers and business leaders keep track of remote employee activity. According to research from Top10VPN, the use of employee monitoring software has jumped 50% since 2020 and has been steadily growing since March of 2021.

Unfortunately, many leaders find themselves relying on traditional employee monitoring tools that make many employees wary of remote work monitoring as a whole. Traditional monitoring techniques can make individual employees feel like they’re being micromanaged.

Without an open, transparent, and collaborative approach to remote work monitoring, you can erode employee trust and negate any positive outcomes you would have achieved through effective remote employee monitoring. To unlock those outcomes, you need to take a step back from outdated employee monitoring technologies and instead embrace a new approach — one that focuses on supporting remote workers, not controlling them.

In this article, we’ll define remote work monitoring, describe what it looks like, and teach you how to make monitoring a win-win for everyone by adopting the ActivTrak approach.

What Is Remote Employee Monitoring?

Remote employee monitoring is the process of analyzing remote workers’ activity data to isolate inefficient processes, identify overloaded employees, and gain productivity insights across your organization. Remember — managers should never monitor remote employees simply to keep an eye on them. Monitoring is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The primary objective of remote worker monitoring is to increase employee productivity by refining workflows and reduce burnout by identifying early signs that may otherwise go unnoticed because of the disconnect between managers and remote teams.

How Does Remote Employee Monitoring Work?

Remote employee monitoring is performed using software that enables businesses to track activity data for remote and hybrid employees. Each remote work monitoring software solution works differently depending on the provider. ActivTrak’s remote worker tracking software is comprised of three elements — the Agent, the Database, and the Application. The Agent collects data and executes responses to user activity without tracking keystrokes or taking screenshots. Remote employee activity data collected by the Agent is then sent to backend servers in Google Cloud Platform (GCP), where the Databases aggregates the data and quickly returns team and account benchmarks. Finally, ActivTrak’s Application analyzes all of the data insights gathered by the Agent and distills them into clear and detailed reports you can use to improve performance and boost productivity.

Traditional employee computer monitoring tracks employee activity to see if and when employees are working. It often veers into territory that resembles spying or micromanaging and doesn’t offer the insights necessary to make lasting changes to how employees work and help them be more productive. Instead of using remote work monitoring to answer the question “Are my employees working?”, ActivTrak’s approach focuses on using employee monitoring ethics to answer the question “How are my employees working?” This distinction is key to helping employees work wiser.

By centering on the “how,” we only use employee tracking to understand the ways remote employees approach their work. Are they able to have substantial focus time, or do constant Slack notifications and Zoom meetings get in the way of team productivity? Do they have a healthy work-life balance, or do work hours continuously bleed into personal time? Are established workflows effective, or are outdated approaches interfering with employee productivity? Using remote employee monitoring to answer these kinds of questions helps empower your employees and enables a collaborative approach to boosting productivity levels and supporting individual employees.

In line with these efforts, one of the most important elements of ActivTrak’s approach is transparency and privacy when it comes time to monitor remote workers. Getting employee buy-in is essential to any successful employee monitoring program. You should be upfront with your remote workers about your monitoring efforts — why you’re using employee monitoring software, what data will be collected and how it will be used, what provisions are in place to protect their privacy. Open communication throughout every step of the monitoring process is critical to success, and involving your employees in the process eliminates the perception of spying or micromanaging.

In fact, one of the best ways to make the most of remote productivity monitoring tools is to encourage your remote workers to take ownership of the results by using the software themselves. Let them see the metrics and analytics for themselves so they can better understand how they work and make changes that help them work wiser. Plus, by offering employees access to your collected data, you are providing full transparency into every step of the employee tracking process.

In addition to that, it’s critical that you emphasize a focus on employee privacy as part of your workforce productivity tracking program. At ActivTrak, we believe you should never install employee monitoring software on non-work personal devices. You should also never use your employee monitoring tools for keystroke logging, recording with a webcam, or anything beyond basic data collection.

When it comes to data collection, it’s also important that any data you collect serves a purpose. The ActivTrak approach focuses on analytics. Metrics should drive actionable insights that can be used to support team members, improve workflows, and create a healthier work environment.

Features of ActivTrak's Remote Work Monitoring Software

ActivTrak isn’t just different from traditional employee monitoring software when it comes to our philosophy — our product is different from a technology standpoint, too.

ActivTrak was developed as a cloud-native, SaaS application. Unlike other tools used to monitor remote workers, ActivTrak’s platform is easy to deploy and configure, particularly in a remote work environment where non-SaaS applications can prove particularly challenging to implement. With ActivTrak, you can start identifying bottlenecks, gathering metrics, and developing insights in minutes.

Also, our platform is built with our unique approach in mind, meaning a commitment to employee privacy is at the very core. Our remote workforce technology never screen records or logs keystrokes. It never collects any metrics beyond those specifically designed to support analytics that can be used to boost productivity levels, understand workflows, and improve remote employee morale.

Our remote employee and team monitoring software includes the essential features you need to track productivity, and more. Here’s what our software offers:

  • Productivity reports: Use productivity reports to drill down on your collected data, identify the patterns that can fuel success, and make informed adjustments to boost productivity levels.
  • Application and website usage metrics: Understand which applications are being used effectively — and which aren’t. From instant messaging apps like Slack to video conferencing apps like Zoom to productivity management tools, there are a lot of different apps and websites in use in a remote workplace. See what apps are being used and how often to make informed employee productivity and resourcing decisions.
  • Activity classification: Classify websites and apps as either productive (like Slack and Zoom) or unproductive (like social media) to easily assess productivity trends and pinpoint sources of distraction.
  • Workload management insights: Get insights across your remote environment to pinpoint specific areas where you can optimize productivity levels, manage team workload balance, and generally support healthier work habits (including avoiding employee burnout).
  • Personal insights: Let your remote workers see the results of your employee monitoring efforts for themselves with ActivTrak’s Personal Insights report. With insight into personal work habits, they can discover opportunities to create a better work-life balance, improve their focus, and boost productivity levels without manager intervention.

As a bonus, ActivTrak’s virtual productivity coach analyzes your team’s data to surface employees who may need support and provides personalized recommendations for managers to help team members fine-tune productivity, workload balance, focus, and efficiency.

Start Monitoring Remote Workers the Right Way Today

When remote work monitoring is done right, it can be transformative for a company. From increasing employee productivity by helping remote employees work more effectively to reducing burnout risk and boosting employee engagement, the insights gained from effective data collection and analytics can have a major positive impact.

At ActivTrak, we know that the right way to approach remote work monitoring is by focusing on helping your employees work wiser by supporting them and finding ways to create a healthier, more productive work environment. It doesn’t involve spying or micromanaging. Learn how the ActivTrak approach can transform your business today!


  • Be transparent with remote employees about your monitoring efforts and get buy-in from the start.
  • Prioritize employee privacy and never use tracking software that violates your remote workers’ privacy or cybersecurity.
  • Make sure you’re using employee monitoring software to answer the right questions. Ask “How do my employees work?” not “Do my employees work?”

Watch a 2 minute demo of our remote work monitoring solution to see it in action, or request a demo for a personalized experience.

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