Complex Made Simple

Exclusive: New WFH software protects employees’ privacy, ensures productivity

Caught by surprise, and panicking over losing control of their staff’s working hours and productivity, companies are in a mad dash to buy spyware

Invasive or not, many bosses want to be watching your every move Some of this software can violate personal privacy and foster mistrust among staff, and result in an unmotivated workforce When Spyware is used, who knows where data is housed. Someone anywhere in the world can hack spyware

Over a billion people are working from home and it’s a reality made true thanks to COVID-19. 

The new WFH normal means employees’ life-work balance will improve tremendously, as it saves 2-3 hours per day on commute, and companies save money on office space, rent, equipment, travel expenses and more. 

But caught by surprise, and panicking over losing control of their staff’s working hours and productivity, companies are in a mad dash to buy spyware.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, the remote workforce in many parts of the world is closely being watched. The prying eyes of traditional office managers and supervisors is being replaced by “Big Brother”.

Invasive or not, many bosses want to be watching your every move.  

But do supervisors need to be near Diaper Alley, intimate family moments, or read your desktop’s private email messages, one of which could happen to be about a friend’s not so friendly opinion about your boss?

It’s perfectly legal for businesses to keep an unblinking eye on employees as long as they disclose they’re doing it.

But there must be some better solution than this, and thankfully there is.

Exclusive: Video-conferencing company Zoom talks privacy, user figures and more

COVID undercover

Monitoring of at-home employees aims to ensure that the remote workforce continues to meet quality and productivity standards.

 “Companies have been scrambling,” said Brad Miller, chief executive of surveillance software maker InterGuard. “They’re trying to allow their employees to work from home but trying to maintain a level of security and productivity,” recently reported the LA Times.

Along with InterGuard, software makers include Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak and Hubstaff. All include screen monitoring metrics, and that is essentially the main problem.  

Read: Nearly a third of employees spend more time working than they did before

Spyware: Replicating a Dinosaur era mentality 

Chief Transparency Officer of US-based TransparentBusiness, Moe Vela, said in an exclusive interview with AMEinfo: Some of this software can violate personal privacy and foster mistrust among staff, and result in an unmotivated workforce.” 

With 74% of companies planning on moving up to 50% of their employees to remote work on a permanent basis, Vela believes using reliable software that brings transparency and accountability in remote work management as well as protecting employees’ privacy is key.  

“WFH is a new paradigm and the benefits of remote work by far outweigh the risks. But when using a remote workforce model, employers, managers and business owners have to find a healthy balance. You can’t just have a spyware watching everything your employee says and does, and recording it,” Vela said. 

“It’s outdated business thinking similar to using cameras in offices to monitoring productivity. We’re here to say that doing the same in a home setting is very invasive, intrusive. We call it Big Brother and not in an endearing way.”

There are risks inherent in spyware use, especially nowadays when children are not in school, with the entire family under lockdown.

“If companies plant spyware it means employers are watching you play with your children, change a diaper, hear you make a doctor’s appointment, chat on Facebook, play solitaire, or see what you’re cooking for lunch or dinner,” Explained Vela.  

There is a way to hold employees accountable without invading privacy.  

Infographic: How To manage your momentum under quarantine

Privacy protection: “TransparentBusiness”

Trust is essential in an employer-employee relationship.

Vela said that TransparentBusiness, was 2 years in the making, costing $2.5 million dollars and rigorously tested over a 5-6 years’ period later. 

“We are on the verge of breaking it wide open across the world. We worked really hard on this software to make sure we don’t have big brother issues,” revealed Vela.

“It is so advanced and sophisticated that it doesn’t invade the privacy of the employee just because you have to be transparent and accountable for your work, and it doesn’t mean that your every move and word has to be recorded.” 

Here’s how TransparentBusiness works: 

  • The Software monitors an employee’s hours effectively but only the billable hours
  • Employees have control over when the remote work software is on and off
  • The software should share audio and visual notifications when a screenshot is taken and provide the worker with the ability to delete it before it gets uploaded to the Cloud or the corporate server
  • Software does not record employees’ keyboard input to avoid capturing workers’ passwords. Software records only the number of keystrokes typed to ensure an employee’s privacy is maintained
  • Software provides a daily report log to employees that allows them to remove information unrelated to their duties, if it was accidentally captured.
  • All captured information is SSL protected and stored in a highly secure Private Cloud.

“OOPS” moments are out

“Employers need to use software like ours that employees control when to turn it off or on from their laptop or desktop, and get to determine if by accident they went shopping on Amazon and the screen shots shows that, which is something they don’t want submitted to the manager,” explained Vela. 

Tranparentsoftware is employee controlled. Every 3 minutes, it takes a screenshot, measures that you are touching the keys, but not ‘what’ you are typing. 

“Those screenshots are not sent to the manager. Using advanced algorithms, the software takes an assessment and evaluation of these screen shots and sends a real time report to your manager, on production and productivity, budgeting, and other KPIs. At the end of the day, before screen shots are submitted to manager, you as employee gets to see them all and delete what you didn’t want your manager to see,” clarified Vela.

TransparentBusiness has been tested and gone through due diligence by Google and Microsoft, Spain’s Telephonica and major other global companies. 

“It has proven to be overwhelmingly secure. The data is housed in the companies’ servers, not ours. But when Spyware is used, who knows where data is housed. Someone anywhere in the world can hack spyware.”

Global distribution

TransparentBusiness is already in use in countries like the US, Spain, Guatemala, and Mexico. 

“The demand for this software is so high especially with the remote workforce model taking shape as a new business reality now and in the future.

“We have both private organizations and governments as clients because public sector employees are working remotely as well. We have 75% private and 25% public clients and we will be in a region near you soon,” declared Vela.