William Bundy first introduced employee monitoring in 1888 to record employees’ time in and time out. As the days passed by, monitoring tools also evolved. In this day and age, employers can effortlessly monitor your device to track productivity.
After the Corona pandemic, more people were forced to work from home. Employers can use remote spy tools to view employee activity while working from home. This situation leads us to an uncertain question: can my employer monitor my personal computer?In this article, I will inform you how your employer can monitor your personal computer and what data they can monitor.
Why Do Employers Want to Monitor Your Computer?
When you work from home, your employer is in complete darkness about your work activity. So they need a medium to monitor your activity that helps them to determine which area you are working on.
Employers mainly want to track your device for two key reasons: employee productivity and company security.
Here are the reasons your employer wants to monitor your computer:
To Track Productivity
With the help of a productivity tracker, your employer can clearly track your online activity. If you are spending your working hours on your tasks, it could be undoubtedly detected by your employer.
Your employer can see a lot of data to ensure your productivity, including the following:
- Your browsing history.
- Your browsing duration on a particular website.
- How often do you visit a specific site.
- Your keystrokes.
- All the messages you send and receive during a working day.
- Your local files.
- The application you are using.
As demonstrated, your employer can access all data from your computer and use them to understand your productivity. Though your boss is not watching you all the time, he can see all your activity whenever he needs.
To Protect The Company’s Security
Another critical concern is to protect the confidential data of the company. Several companies claimed that they had been burned by employees leaking their data to a third party in exchange for money.
To avoid this miserable situation, your employer can use tools to take screenshots every few minutes. They can also tag some particular words so that whenever you type these words, the software will send an alert notification to your employer.
Follow our guide on how to Tell If Your Employer is Monitoring Your Computer
How Your Employer Can Monitor Your Personal Computer?
Your employers can monitor your device in numerous ways though they are forced by law to inform you about this. If your company offers working from home, there is an excellent chance that they include the monitoring permission in the onboarding paperwork.
Here are the methods your employer can monitor your personal computer:
1. Using the Work Network
While using your work network, your employer can see your internet uses, including which website you are browsing. That helps to understand where you are spending your working hours, and they can take steps to make you more productive.
Using a firewall on a network can restrict users from accessing specific websites. Employers mainly use this feature to control social media use during office hours.
Keep in mind that using an office network on your device, including mobile and tablet, can be easily monitored by your employer.
2. Using a Remote Spy Software
If you are using a device provided by the office, you can take it for granted that the remote spy software is monitoring you. However, this is not applicable when you are using your device for office work.
Unless you gave written permission to your company, they could not force you to install a spying tool on your personal computer.
Here is a list of examples of what your employer can access when you install spying software on your personal device:
- Take periodic screenshots of your computer.
- Open the camera to see your surroundings.
- Use the microphone to record audio.
- Access your keylogger.
- Track your current location.
Be aware of using your office network and office-provided devices. You must avoid personal work while connected to a work network or using an office device.
Check out our detailed post on how Can Text Messages Be Monitored By Employer
How Your Employer Cannot Monitor Your Personal Computer?
Being constantly monitored by your employer can be very uncomfortable. There is no escape if you are using your office computer. However, there are a few ways to avoid monitoring while using a personal computer.
Here are the methods your employer cannot monitor your personal computer:
1. Using a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can hide your traffic and encrypt your user data from any suspected eyes. It uses another host to change your IP(Internet Protocol) address for redirecting your traffic.
While using a VPN, your employer will not be able to see the context of your messages or browsing history. Still, they can see that you are using a VPN that redirects your traffic to a host provided by the VPN.
Most employers discourage their employees from using VPNs on work devices. A company needs to ensure its employees are productive while working. So using VPN is strongly prohibited by many companies.
2. Using Wifi
While connected to the office Wifi, your employer can see your browsing history; they can’t see much more than this. Your sensitive data like passwords or the context of messages are encrypted when you are using office Wifi to connect to personal computers.
Remember that VPN will only help when you use your personal device for work. Using a VPN on your office device can lead you to numerous suffering.
Check out our detailed post on Can My Employer Monitor My Personal
Laws for Employee Monitoring
There are two federal laws that are applicable to protect your privacy. One of them is The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which restricts unreasonable searches. This law is only applicable to government employees, not private employees.
The other is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which prohibits third parties from checking or revealing electronic communications without prior permission. The ECPA was created to restrict surveillance on electronic media.
Besides these two laws, several states have passed additional laws that help employees be safe from monitoring. Connecticut and Delaware states pass a law requiring notice to the employee before the employer can start monitoring them.
Depending on your state, the law for monitoring can be different. So the best way to know your right is by researching yourself and consulting with a local experienced employment lawyer.
A Final Thought
Employee monitoring is highly essential when working with a remote team. Though, it is very alarming for the employees to be watched all day. Especially when you are off the clock, spying on you can be frustrating.
To avoid miscommunication, I suggest separating your personal and work devices. Don’t use your personal device for work; never use your office computer for individual tasks.
I hope you find this article informative and helpful. If you have any additional queries, feel free to mention them in the comment below.