Can Employers Monitor Employees Internet Use? Why it's Important

Posted on Dec 18, 2019 11:00:00 AM

It’s more than likely that your organization has an important internet usage document that must be signed by all staff members during the onboarding stage of their employment.

This document allows your company to define the standards of appropriate internet usage, so your employees know exactly what is expected of them. However, a question we receive on a regular basis is - should my organization monitor and track the internet usage of employees as part of its IT strategy?

The question can be a controversial one for many organizations. While large businesses often practice internet usage monitoring and even ban some websites from being used on their network, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often provide full internet access and trust their employees with responsible usage.

These practices are generally one extreme to the other, either completely monitoring and banning employees from websites or giving employees full reign over what they can access.

Occasional internet usage audits, however, can provide your company with huge benefits, while avoiding the extremes associated with the above practices. We’ve listed the two key benefits for your organization here:

1 - Improving employee productivity

Whether it’s shopping, online banking, paying their bills, browsing social media or reading the news, employees spend a substantial amount of time each day browsing the internet for personal related things.

So, how much time do employees actually waste at work surfing the web? A survey released by salary.com found almost two-thirds of respondents report that they waste time at work.

  • 39 percent of respondents said they spend one hour a week or less on non-work related items.
  • 29 percent said they spend up to two hours a week, wasting time on the computer at work.
  • 21 percent said they waste up to five hours a week.
  • Only 3 percent of respondents spend 10 hours or more on personal tasks in a given week.

Of the people surveyed, 64 percent said they visit non-work related websites every day during work hours. Most people spend time checking their personal email, visiting news sites, performing Google searches, monitoring social media and shopping online - with browsing Facebook topping the list.

Monitoring your employees’ internet usage doesn’t have to be about fostering a sense of mistrust for your workforce. In fact, an internet audit doesn’t even need to pinpoint individual workers and what they are searching for.

An internet audit can simply be an overview of your company’s entire internet usage, with a look at which websites might be affecting productivity. With this data, you can create an IT strategy that improves the internet habits of your employees in a constructive way.

2 - Protecting your business from viruses and ransomware attacks

An internet audit isn’t just about ensuring your employees aren’t spending too much time on Facebook. It’s about making sure your company knows exactly what is coming into and leaving its network, helping you to build an effective cybersecurity strategy.

We wrote recently about protecting your business from the consequences of ransomware. Did you know that personal internet use is one of the main reasons for the viruses, hackers, malware and ransomware that can affect your company’s network?

All of these can cripple the computer systems on which your business depends. They will slow down your computer’s performance, damage your internal system and steal data from your organization - resulting in a loss of productivity and wasted money.

By undertaking an internet usage audit, you’ll be able to see exactly what is coming in and out of your organization’s network. As a result, you’ll be able to properly educate your employees on the dangers of malicious programs, and prevent them from affecting your company.

How can OT Group help?

It may seem unnecessary to some business owners, but an audit of your employees’ internet usage will ensure you know exactly what is coming into and what is leaving your network.

OT Group has performed a large number of internet use audits over the years. The results have helped employers to determine where problems and risks lie within their network, as well as helping them to develop an IT strategy that curbs internet use habits in a positive and constructive way.

In fact, businesses that have undergone an audit of their employees’ internet usage with OT Group have seen an average increase in employee productivity of 8-10 percent.

Are you looking for more information on our internet audit and how it can specifically benefit your company? Contact our team of experts today. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have.

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Topics: Office Technology

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