Using Screen Capture to Track Your Remote Workers: Good or Bad Idea?

The use of screen monitoring programs to track employee activities is a highly debated topic in the outsourcing community. Some advocate it, some strongly oppose it, and some take a neutral position.

 

If you’re a first-time outsourcer, you might be considering using a screen monitoring service for your current or would-be employees to track their day-to-day activities. You might be feeling conflicted if you should proceed with it or not and given the conflicting opinions out there, you might be even be more confused.

 

In this discussion, we won’t be answering the question if you should subscribe to a screen monitoring service with a flat out “yes” or “no.” Rather, we will present you with information that will help you decide whether you should go for it or not.

 

The Purpose-Driven Screenshots

The first step when determining whether you should use screen monitoring service to track your employees’ day to day work activities is answering this question –

 

Why do you want to do this?

There are a number of reasons that you can give, but these can be categorized into two groups:

 

Business Improvement

Some business owners use screenshots because these help them make better and more informed business decisions. For example, if you’re a marketing agency, you may want to see the progress of your web developers via screenshots. How long it’s taking them to finish a certain step in the process and if they’re getting stuck somewhere. In this case, having screenshots at hand can help you pinpoint bottlenecks in your production and address or solve issues if there are any.

 

Trust-Related Issues

We don’t have exact statistics, but we do believe that most outsourcers use screen monitoring services because they don’t trust their employees. They are always doubtful. They feel that their employees might not work the full 8 hours per day. They think that they are searching for other jobs during their shift. They have this constant fear that their staff is slacking off and not really maximizing their time while working.

 

If you want to subscribe to a screen monitoring service because of the first reason, then go ahead and do it, simply because you’re doing it for the right reason. And we say the right reason because you’re doing it objectively – to give you insights and data to elevate your business’ productivity.

 

However, if you’re doing it because you don’t trust your employees, then we don’t really encourage it. In fact, we would push this further and say that you have to rethink whether you’re cut out for outsourcing altogether.

 

Every successful outsourcing endeavor that we’ve seen over the years has always been founded on mutual trust. If you can’t trust your employees, outsourcing will not work for you.

 

No One Wants to Work for a Micromanager

Ask yourself this question.

 

Would you be comfortable working if your clients or customers are breathing down your neck and always looking over your shoulder, checking every move you make? If your answer is yes, you’re a rare breed, but most people won’t function well with their boss watching their every move.

 

Do You Value Availability or Productivity?

This is another question that you have to answer if you’re considering using screen monitoring for your remote Filipino employees.

 

Here, we define availability as being able to access your employees when you need them. Productivity means being able to meet the quantity of output required within a specific timeframe.

 

Of course, you can have both, but there are certain positions that require more availability than productivity and positions that require productivity over availability. For instance, if you’re hiring a Virtual Assistant to help you with administrative tasks, then you need him or her to be there when you need help or a task that needs to be done.

 

However, if you’re hiring a content writer, do you really care how he or she writes articles? When you use a screen tracking software, what do you want to see? A blank page slowly filling up with words? Or would you be happy as long as your content writer meets the required number of well written articles per week?

 

Do You Actually Have The Time to Review the Screenshots?

We know a lot of employers who use screen tracking services, but don’t actually have the time to go through them.

 

Wasted investment (screen tracking services are typically not free). Wasted effort on your part and your employees’ part. And you might have caused unnecessary stress for your employees by having these systems in place.

 

Two takeaways here. Before paying for a screen tracking service make sure that you have the time to actually review them. Second, make sure that you know what to do with these screenshots in terms of using them to streamline your processes better and use them to provide feedback to your employees to improve their productivity.

 

A Good Tool When Used Right

Before we end this discussion, we also want to give you a heads up that there are some remote employees who will turn down a job offer because they are not comfortable with screen tracking. They find it too invasive and the work culture too uptight. You may want to be prepared to encounter a competent candidate who will turn down your job offer once they hear that you require the use of a screen monitoring software.

 

Again, we’re not going to give you a flat out yes or no answer but based on the questions and guidelines above, you should be able to evaluate your own outsourcing operations and determine whether using a screen monitoring technology is done with good intentions and whether it would be productive or counterproductive for your business.

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