Employee tracking systems work on the basis of gathering data on each employee’s movements, how they are working, their output and productivity, as well as how they interact with their colleagues.

It can take place for several reasons, notably tracking performance and increasing productivity, as well as ensuring their systems remain secure.

Employee tracking can take place in several forms, depending on the employer’s individual needs and how the business works. It can either be discretely installed, with little to no visibility to the naked eye, or it can occur in more noticeable forms.

Below is an overview of just how employers can track their employees during working hours:

  • Direct Monitoring : Computers are kept in an open location on site, entailing that anyone can see who is using the computers and when. This is used especially in businesses where work is not reliant solely on using computers, and employees do not need individually assigned devices.


  • Network Monitoring : Businesses can track how their networks are used and the traffic that travels through them. Using a firewall or router device, businesses can monitor addresses and content transmitted or received over the network, and can pick up on potential security risks. Employers can also see who is accessing files and how they are used, whether altered or transmitted. WiFi access points allow companies to create firewalls for employees or guests to log on to, which makes tracking of their usage easy.


  • Computer Monitoring : Using computer software, employers can monitor internet searches, tracking who is using the internet for personal searches or work-related research. For employees involved in data entry roles, employers can track their performance according to keystroke speed and accuracy. This latter example also allows employers to monitor output and the speed of employee transactions, alongside the number of jobs they take on. On the back of monitoring via this type of monitoring allows managers to set performance standards and conduct appraisals of work done. Not only does this allow employees to keep track of their own performance, but it allows managers an overview of how their team is working.


  • Video Surveillance : Used as a way to monitor employee behavior, video cameras can either be installed in open areas for all to see, or installed discreetly so that employers are not aware of them. Installing video cameras can be particularly useful when employers suspect theft, inappropriate behavior or there are potentially safety hazards.


  • Phone tapping : Although most frequently associated with the secret services, phone tapping is more common in business contexts than is widely acknowledged. The main reason for employers using this form of employee tracking is to gather data on the number, frequency and the destination called. In some instances, if employees work directly with clients, the recorded calls can be used to improve the quality of customer care. It helps managers figure when employees may need extra training, or detect when they might be handing over critical company information to outsiders.


  • Mail monitoring : Whether it’s emails or voicemails, managers can monitor messages sent by their employees – even after the employee has deleted these messages from their device. Messages are frequently backed-up on a central system, and they can be retrieved if and when needed. For the moment, there is no law in countries such as the US that prevent employers from reading their employees’ emails. Employers can also monitor how and when emails are used, simply by adding “Receipt Request” or “Priority Category” options to each email sent. Email privacy can be protected through encryption, which scrambles messages on the sender’s terminal and unscrambles them once they are received (this, however, blocks only outsiders from reading emails).


  • GPS Tracking : Used particularly for employees working offsite, so employers can track their movements and outputs from afar. Employers can see where their employees are, when they arrived at their destination, how long they stayed and the average amount of time taken on each job. Also factored in are overall weather and traffic conditions, which may affect an employee’s ability to work effectively.


  • Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) : A VPN can be used by companies when they want to allow only those who have log-in details access to company files. VPNs are essentially websites that take a business’ data and documents online, and allow for access wherever the employee is based. On the one hand, it allows employees to contribute work and store it on a centralized system no matter where they are, but it also provides businesses with system-wide file security. There are also regular backups and network monitoring looking for any irregularities or breaches in security features.