To get the most out of your workforce, you need to monitor where their time is being spent. The only way to do that effectively is with employee monitoring software.
Especially as more workers begin to work remotely in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak, it’s important to keep tabs on what your employees or contractors are doing to maximize their productivity.
It’s already estimated that 80% of businesses already use some sort of monitoring software on their employees and this is only set to grow even more.
In fact it’s estimated that the User Activity Monitoring (UAM) business is going to be worth $3.33 billion by 2023.
We’ve looked at the best employee monitoring software for both small and large businesses on Mac & PC to help you keep on top of employee activities.
EMP monitoring software not only helps you keep an eye on workers but it also helps enforce your companies data security policies and protocols.
Inappropriate employee behavior online not only impacts efficiency but can also compromise the security of your company data or internal network.
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Other reasons to include employee tracking tools (also known as 8x5 monitoring software) are:
- Reduce revenue lost due to employee fraud
- Prevent confidential information from being stolen by insiders
- Reduce litigation expenses spent on employee disputes
If you use freelancers or allow employers to work remotely from home remote monitoring and management software (RMM) is particularly important.
Note however that remote monitoring software is different from remote desktop software.
Remote monitoring tools focus on monitoring computer usage whereas remote desktop software tools are usually used to connect to another Mac or PC in order to share files, provide technical support, connect to a home office etc.
How Does Computer Monitoring Software Work?
Most EMP monitoring tools nowadays go way beyond just tracking clocking in and out times. Most have to be deployed on a user’s terminal either individually or across an entire network by a network administrator.
The best EMP monitoring software track almost any activity on a computer such as:
- Key logging
- Location tracking
- Screen usage
- Instant messaging conversations
- Email monitoring
- App usage
Some monitoring tools focus mainly on tracking productivity whereas others are more Big Brother and monitor absolutely everything.
The best employee monitoring software can even monitor employees using VPN software which encrypt connections.
Most apps can break down things across teams, department and individuals so you can focus on key areas of your business.
Is It Legal To Monitor Employees Computers?
It’s important to be aware that some US states have banned the collection of certain employee data such as social media data.
Many states also have wiretap laws against the collection of audio data without employee consent.
There’s also the issue of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) at work which may be beyond the legal scope or range of employee monitoring apps.
For this reason, it’s a good idea that you have a BYOD policy in the workplace which explicitly states what may be monitored when connected to an office WiFi or LAN network for example.
It’s also recommended that you have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which states which websites or applications are forbidden to use by employees as they may compromise the security of your network.
You can watch an interesting KPBS piece on privacy rights vs employee tracking below.
What To Look For In The Best Employee Monitoring Solutions
Ultimately, the main thing you want an EMP solution to do is save time and improve productivity. However, there are a few key features you may want to consider.
- Blocking Control: Do you want to be able to control when employees access the internet or certain apps or are you OK with blanket blocking?
- Application Filtering: Do you want to monitor absolutely everything or just specific applications? For example, do you want to track downloaded files, print jobs, inserted devices and even physical location?
- Reports & Notifications: The best employee monitoring solutions send you instant notifications when an employee triggers a certain activity such as downloads something or accesses a certain site. Some also allow you to monitor in real-time.
- Archiving Of Activity: Automatic archiving of data is important in case of any litigation or legal problems with employees so that you have evidence of their workplace activities.
- After Sale Support: Many employee monitoring solutions charge for after sales support so be aware of this. This is because technology is always changing and monitoring techniques that worked on day often don’t the next.
With this in mind here are the best employee monitoring software solutions for Mac and PC of 2020 in order of ranking.
Despite the name, SentryPC works on both Mac and Windows and is by far the easiest to use and implement employee monitoring software on both platforms.
In fact SentryPC is so easy to use that it’s also popular among parents as a form of parental control software to monitor what their children are up to online.
What we really like about SentryPC is two things -- incredible ease of use and excellent desktop clients for both Mac and PC.
The SentryPC dashboard is extremely clear and shows essential details like how many computers are being monitored and who is using them.
You can instantly see useful stats like how active they’ve been in the past 24h and the last time they logged-in. You can drill down all of this information to see specific times they logged in and out, for how long and what applications or programs they were using.
Other useful info includes the location they logged-in, what type of computer they used and at what time.
One of the best features of PCSentry is Screenshots. PCSentry takes screenshots at specific intervals so that you can see exactly what employees had open on their screen at any time.
SentryPC pricing depends on how big your organization is and you can get specific quotes based on the number of users you have.
PCSentry pricing starts at $59.95 per year to monitor just one Mac or PC. For companies of up to 50 users it’s $19.90 per license and for 100 licenses it’s $15.95 per license.
Pricing includes the desktop and web client, free support and free updates. There is no limit on the amount of activity logs you can store but if you don’t download and keep them, they are purged automatically on a monthly basis. The same applies to screenshot logs.
If you’re looking for something complete yet easy to administer and deploy to monitor employees or remote workers, it doesn’t come any better than SentryPC
You can also try a free demo of SentryPC to see for yourself.
You can check our full review of SentryPC for more.
Hubstaff is an incredibly well organized employee management and time tracking solution.
Hubstaff puts a strong focus on productivity over security to make sure you’re getting the most out of your team while they are working remotely.
Some of the nice touches in Hubstaff include time tracking, GPS tracking of teams and online timesheets.
Other useful features extend as far as payroll management, billing and time management so that HR and managers can keep an eye on budgets and where resources are being allocated.
There are also project management tools integrated so that you can see snapshots of work in progress although there’s also third party integration with other project management software and tools.
Hubstaff is easily the best value employee tracking solution we’ve seen too with plans starting from $5 per employee going up to $20 for multi site and fleet tracking.
You can also try Hubstaff free for 14 days to judge for yourself.
DeskTime is a more lightweight but user-friendly and slick employee monitoring software which makes it easy to track your employees in real-time.
DeskTime is used by almost 150,000 companies in 174 different countries so it’s well established and popular across the globe.
DeskTime covers everything from recording sick days and absences to monitoring app usage and websites visited.
DeskTime even takes auto screenshots and has activity rate trackers to track time spent on individual projects.
DeskTime has both a desktop and mobile app. The Mac client in particular looks and feel like an application that made for macOS with a slick, clear, easy to navigate interface.
DeskTime uses encryption, firewalls and TIER III servers to protect your company data and employee activity.
You can try DeskTime for free for 14 days to judge it for yourself.
When it comes to comprehensive employee monitoring, ActivTrak covers just about every conceivable metric.
Whilst it’s not as easy to deploy as SentryPC and lacks the Mac desktop client of SentryPC, it’s still an extremely powerful cloud based solution.
ActivTrak is one of the fastest growing Software as a Solution (SaaS) products of its kind and tracks just about any worker activity you can imagine.
It’s extremely detailed but easy to find your way around. The best way to describe ActiveTrak is a like Google Analytics but for analyzing workplace activity instead of website data.
ActivTrak calls itself a “User Behavior Analytics Software” to add an extra layer of accountability and security to employer-employee relations.
It helps you to understand how work gets done, what affects productivity, and how to improve efficiency.
ActiveTrak can collect logs and screenshots from Windows, Mac and ChromeOS computers.
ActiveTrak is based in Dallas, Texas and available in two pricing plans with the average deal size is $975.
You can try ActiveTrack for free to judge for yourself.
If you need something that does a mix between employee monitoring and time tracking, Time Doctor might be for you.
Time Doctor can be configured to actually warn employees when they stray onto time-wasting or non-work related websites.
Time Doctor takes little more than 10 minutes to setup and works on Mac, PC, Chromebooks. There’s also a web interface that can be accessed anywhere.
Easemon is an easy to deploy Computer Monitoring System for Mac and Windows PCs that helps you monitor and record employee activities.
Easemon can record typed keystrokes, chat logs, composed emails, web history, application usage and more.
Easemon sends email alerts when it detects specific actions and also exports logs to PDF to use as evidence in any litigation or disputes between management and employees.
There’s also an application usage report to show which apps employees are using and for how long.
Easemon can also be run in stealth mode so that it’s almost impossible to detect whether it’s running on a Mac or PC.
You can try Easemon for free but only for 3 days.
iMonitorSoft is a powerful Employee Activity Monitor aimed at governments, educational institutions and governments.
iMonitorSoft works on both Mac and Windows and is quite complex as it’s aimed at system administrators that need to deploy it over large networks of Macs and PCs.
iMonitorSoft can monitor over 1000 computers at one time and terminals can be grouped by department or physical location. It can even monitor computers that are connected via VPN or a domain based Mac or PC.
If you’re looking for an Enterprise level solution, iMonitorSoft is worth checking out although there are easier solutions for small businesses on Mac and PC.
You can try iMonitorSoft for free and there are desktop clients for Mac and PC. It also works with Terminal Server and Citrix VMWare.
Berqun is a slick employee monitoring solution which gives you a clear overview of employee activity.
Berqun gives you an instant overview of useful metrics such as your most productive employees and those that use certain apps the most.
Berqun also has a mobile app which allows you to get a quick oversight of reports.
Berqun provides a clever timeline readout of what your employees are doing throughout each day so you can see where their time is being invested.
Berqun takes screenshots of employee activity and you can see which websites and apps they’re using the most.
You can deploy Berqun either as a Cloud solution or on premise.
Pricing for the Cloud solution starts from as little as $3 per month per employee and self hosted pricing is available on request.
You can try Berqun for free to test how it works first.
WorkScape is functional but basic real-time worker productivity tracking software which features time tracking, GPS tracking, screenshot monitoring and more.
WorkSpace can monitor essentials such as application usage, last activity use and it can be customized to recognize work and non work related websites and applications.
You can try WorkSpace for free first to see for yourself.
EmpMonitor is an all in one centralized employee activity monitoring tool which is very easy to setup and use.
Once installed, EmpMonitor automatically starts tracking user activity and simply requires you to log into a dashboard where you can see exactly which sites and apps employees are accessing.
EmpMonitor is very easy to get going with although it’s very limited compared to the other options featured here.
The basic version is one of the cheapest employee monitoring solutions on the market costing as little as $3 per user on the high volume Enterprise plans.
TeraMind is a slick User Activity Monitoring software which identifies and stops insider threats.
TeraMind can be used to monitor productivity and activity of employees, third-party vendors, contractors and special/privileged users.
TeraMind allows you to focus on specific people by creating monitoring profiles for employees, groups or departments based on who you want to target.
TeraMind can automatically alert you about harmful employee activity and automatically block it.
Network Lookout is an easy to install, fast and reliable employee activity monitor that works on Mac, PC and mobile devices.
Network Lookout tracks work engagement, whether employees are using terminals for personal use and what they’re browsing.
Network Lookout gives you an overview of what’s happening in your office, who’s looking at what and where time is being misused or wasted.
The professional version of Network Lookout even allows network admins to take control of worker terminals remotely and there’s a keystroke logger to monitor exactly what they’re typing.
For up to 5 computers, Network Lookout starts at $99.95 going up to $1,499.95 for a network license.
These are the top employee activity monitoring systems of 2020 that work on both Mac and PC. If you have any questions, problem or suggestions about the apps featured here, let us know in the comments below.