Computer monitoring or surveillance software is any tool that helps businesses keep tabs on their employees within the office premises or through remote access.
Employee monitoring software is used to supervise employees’ performance, prevent illegal activities, avoid confidential info leakage, and catch insider threats. Nowadays employee monitoring software is widely used in technology companies.
A few years back when I was freelancing I got a customer from Delhi for customizing and building features on a purchased codebase. The customer was looking for an expert-level ($$) programmer who could be productive on day one. After the initials met a monthly review and renewal contract was signed, and the customer gave me access to the codebase/server and sent me an invite to a time tracking software. They wanted me to install the time tracking software on my computer which took screenshots of my desktop every 10 minutes and the software automatically uploaded them to the software server for the customer to review work done every day. I am not sure if the customer actually reviewed the screenshots but I continued as instructed and worked on that project for a month.
I never worked like this before. After a week I had an interesting find about myself and my work style while working like that on the project – I hated the tracking to the depth of my heart. Every now and then when I took a quick break to stretch out I became self-conscious that my computer would go to sleep and I’d log an idle 10-minute slot. On week 3 I wasn’t taking breaks as often as I did in past on a normal work day. I usually took a 10-minute break after every 2 or 3 hours of sitting at a work desk to stretch out my legs, back, and fingers but I gave up on it for the sake of this project’s tracking requirement.
After being as dedicated as I could for four weeks the monthly review day came. The customer was happy with the progress I made and even praised me for a quick turnaround on an existing codebase. So I was given the contract for another month. But I let them know how I felt anxious and terrible about the tracking and tried to negotiate a more flexible workflow without the tracking software. The customer said it was a no-no. So? I let go of the customer and moved on with the search for a new customer. On that same day, I promised myself to never work for a customer who didn’t give priority to the mental health of their people.
I was actually right. Within a few weeks, I got another customer who was completely ok with a flexible and async work style as long as the deliverables were met.
If you too are struggling with the work style and culture in your team talk about it. Move on if necessary. There are far better customers and companies out there work for.
Why I hate computer monitoring software (desktop monitoring)?