Business owners and employees alike feel that employee tracking software is intrusive, but purchasing this type of software has grown over the past year due to COVID.

Although employers have found that employees can get their work completed while not physically in the office, many companies still want evidence of high productivity.

Is it legal to use monitoring software for employees?
In Canada, as long as the employer fully informs staff that monitoring software is in place and how it works, they can legally monitor their employees. 

Are there good reasons for an employer wanting to track their employees working from home?
Employers may be concerned about their legal obligations and use software to monitor for inappropriate or illegal activities. Productivity is another reason brought forward, though it may show a lack of trust by the employer.

What are the capabilities of tracking software?
Employers often present this software to their employees as time-tracking software, but this software can do more than track a login to a computer. It can monitor webpages, pinpoint GPS location, tally keystrokes and mouse activity, take screenshots of your employee’s computer and even use the employee’s webcam to watch them live.

What are the pros and cons?
The makers of this software say that these types of programs provide clear productivity measurements and are good for employees, as they can prove to their managers that they are highly productive at home. The data can then be used as evidence for a raise or overtime.

However, some ethical concerns about the monitoring include: collecting employees’ private data and privacy concerns with live monitoring or taking automated screenshots.

Monitoring employees from their personal computers and devices is also a questionable practice. If an employer wishes to adopt monitoring software, the best practice would be to provide the employee with company-issued tools and devices. 

While there isn’t currently any monitoring software in place at SFU, it's best to keep in mind the pros and cons should the University choose to implement any such monitoring system.