Navigating the sticky issue of monitoring employee productivity

by Jeremy

If it has not happened already, at some point, a CIO is likely to be asked about office productivity. With people returning to offices and businesses opening up the possibility of flexible working, the concept of working long office hours and “being seen”, along with other pre-Covid work habits, are being reset. Nevertheless, many organizations have people in managerial roles who may feel it necessary to understand how people work and whether this differs from when they are in the office or when they are at home.

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According to business consultancy Grand View Research, the global productivity management software market is expected to reach a value of nearly $103bn by 2027, primarily driven by “growing demand for workforce management among several businesses, coupled with the need for communication and collaboration between remote workers”.

It adds that recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which “are used to make an in-depth analysis of the data, transform it into actionable insights, and maximize the organization’s productivity”, have significantly affected the market’s trajectory too.

With enterprise use of productivity monitoring software on the rise and many predicting a rapid expansion of the market in coming years, how and why are organizations monitoring employees’ activities, and what are the benefits it can bring?

A study conducted last year by analyst Gartner found that employees may be comfortable with collecting data to measure productivity but not comfortable with how that data might be used.

Productivity monitoring capabilities

The digital productivity monitoring tools available today have a wide range of capabilities, from allowing employers to record employees’ keystrokes and mouse clicks to tracking their physical location and use of applications or websites.

Depending on which software provider is chosen, enterprises may also be able to receive intermittent screenshots from employees’ computer screens throughout the day and oversight of their work documents, calendar appointments, and email correspondence.

For instance, enterprises using software from Florida-based user activity monitoring (UAM) provider Teramind will be able to track, among other things, their employees’ keystrokes, file transfers, what’s on their screens through optical character recognition (OCR), their audio inputs, their network, and the time spent on tasks, as well as in websites and applications.

By tracking these metrics and a variety of others, enterprises can use the software to conduct predictive and behavioral analysis, enabling managers to understand how productive employees are over time.

California-based productivity monitoring software provider Prodoscore similarly uses ML, AI, and natural language processing (NLP) to capture and analyze thousands of daily activities across business applications such as office suites, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) tools.

“Our complex machine learning algorithms output a single score, making it easy to digest opportunities quickly and mitigating the need to sift through multiple reports in disparate systems. The score is supported by quantitative, qualitative, and behavioral information that is collected seamlessly to ensure workflow is not interrupted,” says Prodoscore’s chief strategy officer, Tom Moran.

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