When the pandemic first hit, many companies were taking their workforce remotely for the first time and investing in employee monitoring software to ensure employees were working as productively from home as they were in the office.
In March, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,000 business leaders at companies with a primarily remote and/or hybrid workforce to find out how many still feel the need to monitor their employees 3 years down the line, and how this monitoring has affected productivity and attrition.
- The vast majority of remote companies use some form of employee monitoring
- More than one-third require employees to be on a live, monitored video feed
- 3 in 4 have fired employees because of the monitoring software
- 7 in 10 have had employees quit because they did not want to be monitored
- 97% believe that the software has increased productivity
- 1 in 10 say monitoring software is used to encourage RTO
96% of Remote Companies Use Employee Monitoring Software
The vast majority of respondents surveyed say their company uses at least some form of employee monitoring software. Of this group, only 5% say their employees are unaware they are being monitored.
Just 10% of remote companies were monitoring employees pre-pandemic, while 37% started during the first year of the pandemic and 20% started monitoring within the past year.
“It’s clear from our survey that there are still organizations struggling to manage their workforce post-pandemic,” comments Chief Career Advisor Stacie Haller. “The focus on hours worked versus actual productivity and the successful completion of timely projects seems to reflect the challenges management teams are facing when it comes to readjusting how they manage a remote workforce.”
Vast Majority Believe Monitoring Software Has Increased Productivity
It would appear that investing in monitoring software is paying off. Ninety-seven percent of respondents ‘somewhat’ (34%) or ‘strongly’ (63%) believe that implementing this software has increased employee productivity.
37% Require Employees to Be on a Live Video Feed
When asked to list the ways in which their company uses monitoring software, the most common answers were monitoring web browsing and application use (62%) and blocking content and applications (49%).
However, a surprisingly high percentage say they require remote employees to be on camera all day. Of this group, 93% say the live video feed is monitored, with the majority reporting that the person or people watching the feeds do so for 4 or more hours per day.
7 in 10 Say Employees Have Quit Over Monitoring
Not all workers would accept being subjected to such close scrutiny. Sixty-nine percent of companies say they’ve had employees quit because they didn’t want to be monitored. Of this group, the largest percentage (35%) say the company has lost 6-10 workers over this issue.
“In our study, it was found that folks had, on average, about 2 hours of non-productive time during the day, but I would point out that 2 hours may be easily wasted when working in-house as well,” continues Haller.
“However, in-house employees are not being monitored in the same way. It is not surprising that many employees do not want to feel like big brother is watching them daily when they are good employees and working hard for their organization.”
3 in 4 Companies Have Fired Employees Because of Monitoring
Seventy-three percent of respondents say their company has let workers go because of data gathered from the monitoring software. Of this group, the largest percentage (34%) say 6-10 workers have been fired for this reason.
1 in 3 Say Employees Spend an Average of 3+ Hours Per Day Not Working
Based on data gathered by the monitoring software, one-third of companies say their employees spend an average of 3 hours per day or more on non-work activities. Predictably, the most common time theft discovered was visiting websites or social media for personal use.
1 in 10 Say Monitoring Software is Used to Encourage RTO
Fourteen percent of respondents say their in-person employees are not subject to monitoring software, while 85% say their in-person workers are also subject to monitoring.
Of this 14%, more than two-thirds (about 1 in 10 of the total sample) believe that the fact that only remote workers have to be monitored is used to encourage employees to work in person more often.
When asked why they believe this, write-in responses included:
- “Pursue higher work efficiency and team spirit”
- “We can push each other to work”
- “Telecommuting can make it difficult to communicate and collaborate with employees”
- “The best way to increase productivity”
- “Work matters can be better communicated, problems can be solved more easily, and the relationships between colleagues can be improved”
“As managers become more comfortable in managing a remote workforce, and as younger workers become managers and have been working more of their career remotely, software monitoring will hopefully become antiquated and the focus will be on results and not the amount of time worked,” explains Haller.
“Companies who do employee monitoring need to let their applicants know up front, thereby giving them the option to withdraw if this is not an environment they want to work in. If companies are having difficulties attracting talent if they are monitoring them, then we may also see a change in the prevalence of this technology,” she finishes.
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from March 15 – March 16, 2023. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. completed the full survey. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were currently employed for wages, worked at a company with at least two employees, had a household income of at least $50,000/year, and were at least 25 years of age.
Additionally, respondents had to identify their company role as either a C-level executive, HR manager, President/CEO/Chairperson, or owner or partner. Respondents then went through a primary screening to include only companies with at least 50% of their workforce working remotely the majority of the time, and a secondary screening to ask if they use monitoring software for remote workers.
The survey used a convenience sampling method, and to avoid bias from this component Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.