We are all living and breathing in a technology driven world. As technology takes on a bigger role within the world, many industries outside of the tech field are welcoming the idea of remote employee workforces and remote work. This takes many workers outside the bounds of traditional brick and mortar offices. For organizations looking to expand their horizons and welcome (or maintain) remote employees, there are several tools that can be utilized to measure employee performance all while maintaining data security and complying to a remote workspace.

Why is employee monitoring necessary within a remote workforce?

Employee monitoring is needed within remote workforces for two large reasons; maintaining data security levels and assessing employee productivity.

Data security is a top concern for organizations. With employees working remotely, data that is being accessed and used for work is being transferred more amongst infrastructures. As the data is transferred it is probable that it will be accessed or altered as part of remote workers tasks. To comply with data security laws, it is necessary for organizations to understand the entire life span of data. Where did the data come from? Where is it going next? Who has accessed and altered this data? Has this data been downloaded, printed or shared? These are all questions that demand answers.

Employee monitoring is just as important in the office as out of the office.

Employees are monitored in traditional work settings and the need to monitor remotely working employees is just as profound, if not more so.

Understanding what employees are doing with your company data throughout their work day comes with the territory of telecommuting. This is much more than being aware that an employee is working on a specific project – it is diving deep into the pool of data security in order to assess active/idle time, actions made to data, time spent on productive sites vs. unproductive sites, etc. A staggering 41% of employees admit to spending around 3 work hours surfing the web – wouldn’t this be something you’d like to be aware of? Monitoring remote employees activity can advise you of any unrelated web surfing.

Another advantage to monitoring remote employees, other than data security, is being able to analyze employee productivity.

Analyzing remote employee productivity is accomplished by recognizing productive hours, websites, actions and through creating schedules to help remote employees stay on track.

Without having a window into the work ethic of a remote employee, not only are you compromising productivity but also putting your data at risk. Data security will remain a top concern for companies that participate in remote working. Let’s face it, if your company experiences a breach in data security, employee productivity will get placed on the backburner until recovery is complete. Thus, it is most beneficial to implement data security regulation as well as productivity analyzing efforts in one fail swoop and that’s accomplished via employee monitoring software. Additionally, by monitoring remote employees many organizations are able to satisfy data security laws which is necessary for operation.

What is the secret ingredient to success?

The secret ingredient to remote employee monitoring is user analytics. User analytics allow organizations to learn about their remote employee work related behavior as well as monitor their actions throughout their workday. Employers are able to recognize any unproductive behavior and make alterations accordingly to fine tune productivity. In addition, organizations are able to monitor their data and the security level of it. It should be noted that by monitoring remote employees, companies may have an upper hand in preventing insider threats, as large companies say that 48% of employees are responsible for their most damaging breaches

The highly successful coupling of monitoring tactics and user analytics result in what we know as employee software monitoring. Employee monitoring software which is deployed remotely via the cloud, can be activated in stealth mode or with users being aware of the monitoring. From there, you are able to set boundaries that correlate with your company policies. Employee monitoring software has the allowance to create alerts and/or notifications to be delivered to the administrator, any time a remote employee crosses a boundary – prints a sensitive document, emails data, views PII, etc.

The rules and alerts are all entirely customizable and unique to the needs of your company. As is the manner in which you conduct the monitoring of your remote workers. Some of the monitoring options you may have via employee monitoring software are:

  • Live views of any remote worker’s screen as well as history playback of content your employee was viewing at any given monitored time
  • Monitoring of instant messaging apps, email, and websites visited
  • Keystroke logging
  • File transfer tracking

These above capabilities of employee monitoring software can be the difference between data security and data breach.

With many career fields going remote, how will data security adapt?

Organizations will need to enact more intensive cyber security mitigation efforts to provide data security, and employee monitoring software will lead the pack.

Advancing data security efforts and the implementation of remote employee monitoring is inevitable. It’s a trickle effect. Employees are increasingly more remote which means more data is coursing through the web and technology infrastructures. Keep in mind, hackers and malicious insiders also realize this shift within the workforce. Therefore, the need for data security will become greater and employee monitoring software will continue to be a requirement in successful, secure remote workspace offering organizations.

Our final thoughts are that remote work is now another career avenue, it must be approached with employee monitoring software to ensure the success of your organization as well as provide the necessary security measures for all of your data.

Remote workplaces are on track to flourish, it’s best to get ahead now and bring remote employees on board with a full understanding of the remote employee monitoring process.

The article originally appeared on IT Security Central and was reprinted with permission.