Internet usage in the workplace is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s an amenity for employees and management. It can be a particularly useful business asset for work, especially for online businesses. It often serves a highly productive purpose for research for many companies It’s routinely used for monitoring the competition by marketing management.
On the other hand, the internet can definitely also be a colossal time-waster. The internet can be a powerful distraction, using up time very unproductively. There are many cases of dismissals of staff specifically for overuse or improper use of the internet and online behaviour. These issues typically also relate to poor performance and related work problems.
There’s another, much less obvious, risk. Business security may be at risk. Accessing dangerous websites can cause absolute chaos. Some websites are well-known for their dangerous malware, which may include ransomware and similar nasty things. There’s more than enough reason to be worried about these potentially lethal websites. It’s one of the key reasons for monitoring internet usage.
The history of monitoring internet usage
Employers began monitoring internet usage almost immediately once the internet became universal. It’s been a very complex process to achieve effective monitoring.
Many methods of monitoring have been tried, with surprisingly low levels of success:
- Things like banning internet usage altogether are quite unrealistic. That’s particularly the case now Cloud operations are so much a part of business operations on so many levels. Many customer interfaces with businesses are also very much dependent on internet usage.
- User monitoring creates problems, too. Keyloggers and video loggers are quite intrusive, which can negatively affect morale and, inevitably lower productivity. These methods can also lead to high staff turnover. (Many employers also question the value of in-house systems monitoring emails about things like shopping lists, etc., too. A lot of internet usage is quite harmless.)
- In some counties, these methods of surveillance are specifically prohibited on privacy grounds. That means possible civil lawsuits, and breach of statutory law.
- A further issue for employers is that internet usage is so much a part of daily life. The world lives online, 24/7/365. Restricting it would be utterly incomprehensible to most people. Being “a great place to work” simply doesn’t go with “no internet allowed”.
This situation leaves employers with the obvious need to monitor their internet usage, but not over-monitor it obsessively. The security and productivity issues have to be balanced against real-world onsite employee needs and management preferences.
The modern forms of internet monitoring
Most businesses have simple internet usage policies that are balanced, practical and realistic. The monitoring is still in place, but it’s done much more efficiently, not intrusively, and cost-effectively. Employees are made aware that internet usage is subject to proper usage and behaviour, and it’s a generally accepted thing.
The old methods of monitoring, however, have changed considerably:
Tracking employee computer activity
This is a passive approach, monitoring usage but in balance with the productivity of usage. Computer usage is easy to track, showing a clear picture of what’s being done. Non-work usage is particularly easy to see.
Web and app usage monitoring
Another more passive but easily targetable approach, this type of monitoring can be quite specific. Things like downloads and uploads can be easily spotted along with time usage, data usage, etc. (This is also a “balance sheet” method, matching websites visited, online times and usage if there’s a problem.)
Email is everyone’s instant audit trail of who did what, where and when. Monitoring business emails is standard procedure, and rarely a significant problem. It’s another part of the overall monitoring picture. In some cases, email monitoring is actually just as much part of productivity KPIs as security-related.
Excessive bandwidth usage is a true orange among the apples. It’s one of the easiest methods of identifying specific users, too. Locked in with the other forms of monitoring, any non-work usage sticks out instantly.
Customising your internet monitoring
Let’s be clear about four specific issues for business internet monitoring:
Internet monitoring does not, and should not, cost a fortune. You should be able to get a good monitoring system installed which will be suitable for your business needs. Unless you’re a very large organisation, cost shouldn’t even be a consideration.
You will need current generation monitoring services. The new ways of monitoring internet usage are much better. Modern business systems and old IT technologies and software don’t necessarily make a good fit. It’s best to ensure that your monitoring systems are built into your overall IT setup. If upgrades are necessary, so be it.
Expertise is required for effective monitoring. To run any system well, get an expert to do it for you. An external monitor is your instant solution for all your internet monitoring needs. External monitors can deliver any information or services you need, whenever you want. There is no need for time and people to be dedicated to monitoring in-house.
Custom monitoring is definitely best. Custom monitoring systems are typically cheaper and far more efficient. Every business has a few unique system requirements. Consider what you need to monitor. Do you need to monitor phone usage, as well as onsite? Do you need to monitor Cloud usage? Every business is different. You can expand or reconfigure your monitoring if and when required.
Need some help with internet monitoring systems?
If you’re looking for some expert help with internet monitoring, MaxIT is here to help. We work with a fantastically diverse range of businesses of all sizes, with all types of business systems. We can help you with your internet monitoring and make sure the monitoring system you get is the system you need.
We can also help your business with a vast range of other services, from pure IT consultancy to friendly support ready to go when you need it. Just give us a call any time or contact us online and talk to our team.