What Is Bossware? Pros & Cons of Productivity Monitoring Apps

Companies have definitely been ramping up their use of cloud tools since the pandemic began to facilitate newly remote teams. The use of cloud solutions like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Amazon Web Services, and others help have allowed employees to connect to their work tools and continue serving customers and keeping operations going.

But a challenge with the remote working environment has been a lack of visibility into how employees are spending their time. While output is always a good indicator of productivity, there are some positions where task tracking and monitoring are helpful. 

This needs for visibility and monitoring for remote employees that are no longer working from the office has led to the rise of employee tracking and monitoring software, collectively termed “Bossware.”

What Is Bossware?

Bossware encompasses any type of employee productivity tracking or performance monitoring software. The name came from the fact that typically this is something that a “boss” would put in place to monitor employees. And some employees may even refer to it as “spyware” because it can monitor their digital activities.

Some forms of bossware are less invasive, such as Microsoft Productivity Score. This app looks at your team as a whole to provide non-individualized data on app use and makes suggestions for productivity enhancements.

Other forms of employee monitoring software can raise privacy concerns because they have the ability to log keystrokes, remotely access microphone and video functions, and can remain invisible to the user. 

While employee monitoring isn’t an entirely new concept, due to the rise in the remote workforce, it’s being adopted like never before. It’s estimated that 78% of companies now use some type of employee monitoring software. 

Pros & Cons of Employee Monitoring Apps

There are many different types of employee productivity tracking and monitoring tools, and not all are created equally. Monitoring performance has both benefits and can also be problematic.

Consider the different levels of bossware:

  • Least Invasive: Tools that track your team in aggregate or that are contained to activities within an app, not on a device
  • Mid-Level of Invasiveness: Monitoring of sent emails on a company account, apps that are visible to the user and take intermittent screenshots, tracking of conversations in team messaging
  • Highly Invasive: Tools that can log user keystrokes, take control of a device, access video and audio, and that can be hidden from the user

Pros of Employee Monitoring Software

Monitoring productivity, especially for a team that is working remotely, can be important to ensure everyone stays on task and is adjusting to a virtual working environment.

Benefits include:

  • Reduce “Goofing Off”: Employees may be less apt to waste time or do personal tasks on company time if they know they’re being tracked.
  • Improve Productivity: Certain bossware is very helpful at looking at how users are utilizing their work tools and identifying areas of workflow improvement to save time.
  • Give Managers Valuable Information: Some employee monitoring tools let managers know if certain employees are taking on too much of the workload. They can also give important insights for scheduling and tracking hours for payroll.

Cons of Employee Monitoring Software

If not handled correctly, bossware can go very wrong for a company and cause the alienation of employees. It can also actually hurt productivity and could cause some privacy-related legal issues.

Disadvantages include:

  • Ruin Employee Morale: If employees feel they are only valued as far as how many clicks they make per day, it hurts morale. You could lose a lot of the value that comes when employees contribute of their own accord to the organization through ideas, working extra hours, etc.
  • Cost You Good Employees: Tracking all employees similarly without regard to tenure or performance can cost you good employees who feel betrayed that you suddenly don’t trust them.
  • Worse Customer Experience: Unhappy employees that feel stressed because their digital activities are being monitored can be distracted when interacting with customers. Instead of giving them their full attention, they may be picturing the boss looking over their shoulder virtually.

When implementing an employee productivity monitoring tool, you want to balance the benefits with the potential risks. And no matter what type of bossware you decide to use, it’s always best to be completely upfront and transparent with employees on how it works, what it’s tracking, and why it is being put into place.

It’s also important to monitor how the bossware impacts employee morale and performance after it’s introduced. If you’re not seeing the benefits you expected, then you may need to change tactics on how you keep up with your remote team.

Need Help With Remote Employee Performance Solutions?

Cloudadvize can help your Dallas-Fort Worth business balance the benefits with the risks when choosing your employee productivity tracking tools.

Contact Cloudavize today for a free consultation to get started.