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Solving Bandwidth Bottlenecks With Employee Monitoring Software

by | Dec 23, 2015 | Other | 0 comments

The issue of bandwidth is a case of resource allocation priorities – The more bandwidth employees use for personal browsing, such as watching streaming videos or listening to streaming audio, the less is left over for work related activities.

Executive Summary

Bandwidth bottlenecks are bad news

  • They reduce business critical communications and processes to a snail’s pace.
  • The immediate impact is a loss of productivity which leads to reduced income.
  • Bandwidth hogging is a telltale sign of infection by malware, viruses, spyware, etc.
  • It may also indicate illegal downloading or uploading of copyrighted materials or theft of your organization’s IP.

Solving bandwidth boggles – Solutions

  • Clearly defined and enforced policies regarding employee browsing and usage of company IT infrastructure.
  • Employee computer monitoring software allows employees to self-regulate.
  • Adoption of employee computer monitoring software replaces inefficient and confrontation-prone top-down management.

What is Bandwidth?

Often thrown around casually, the term Bandwidth in the context of computers simply relates to a given computer network’s transmission capacity – It directly dictates the speed in which said network can communicate with other networks.

How is Bandwidth Used?

Any time any computer in your organization is communicating with another machine on the network, or beyond it, that machine is utilizing a percentage of your total bandwidth. Bandwidth Demands are rising Whatever your trade, your bandwidth infrastructure requirements are most likely growing exponentially – File sizes are increasing, expectations for network speeds are rising, and associated costs are following suit. Complacency is not an option – Satisfying this demand is critical if you’re to continue being competitive in your industry. Employees Use Bandwidth for Non-Work Browsing As Well Employees’ expectations regarding personal browsing during work hours add a new dimension to what is already a complex problem, since it’s virtually impossible to entirely ban this type of behavior, and still retain a happy and productive workforce. Ultimately the issue of bandwidth is a case of resource allocation priorities – The more bandwidth employees use for personal browsing, such as watching streaming videos or listening to streaming audio, the less is left over for work related activities. Approved vs. Unapproved Usage An article from Radius Technologies puts it very succinctly – When it comes to use of your corporate bandwidth, two categories start to emerge: approved Internet usage and unapproved Internet usage. As both the direct and indirect costs associated with unapproved internet usage keep rising, more and more employers are restricting employees’ access to to non-work related websites.

“Employers have also blocked or limited access to bandwidth-sucking sites. The bandwidth constraint faced by Corporate America is unfolding nationwide at an unprecedented rate as websites and apps are embedding larger files and more employees bring their own devices — phones and tablets — to work USA Today

How much is personal employee browsing costing you? The short answer – more than you think! A survey by found a majority of employees regularly spend time browsing the Internet on websites unrelated to work. “64% of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 39% spend one hour or less per week, 29% spend 2 hours per week, 21% waste five hours per week, and only 3% said they waste 10 hours or more doing unrelated activities.” The survey also revealed which websites keep employees most off-task, with Facebook, Amazon and LinkedIn taking up the majority of the blame. Other popular destinations included Yahoo and Google+, and to a lesser extent Twitter and Pinterest.” Every wasted hour directly impacts your bottom line Given that increasing available bandwidth can be a very costly operation, the question arises: How can use of the existing resource be optimized, so that casual browsing is brought in check, and work related browsing is prioritized. Approaches to this question vary from draconian blocking policies that attempt to prevent employee’s access to any websites which might be construed as being “unproductive”, to acceptance of bandwidth abuse by employees as part of the workplace status-quo. We believe that Employee Computer Monitoring offers an optimal solution that satisfies the needs of the workplace, without overly antagonizing employees.

What is Employee Computer Monitoring?

“…employee monitoring is the use of various methods of workplace surveillance to gather information about the activities and locations of staff members…”

In our context it’s software that  allows company administrators to monitor and supervise employee usage of computers and mobile devices, in order to track who is consuming bandwidth and why.

Why use Employee Computer Monitoring?

Businesses monitor employees for many reasons – compliance, record keeping, protection of corporate resources, etc.:

  • Visiting objectionable websites on company PCs can subject your business to legal risks, including costly harassment suits from staffers who may be exposed to offensive content.
  • Other consequences may be even worse –Employees may be revealing proprietary information (e.g. business strategy, customer information, formulas and code, etc.) Regardless of whether this is unintentional or malicious, there’s no arguing that jeopardizing your business this way is a risk you can’t afford
  • If the above aren’t enough,unchecked web activity is a primary cause of malware infestations and other intrusions into the network. Even something as simple as failure to keep up with Windows patches can be a threat.

Loss of Productivity Time spent on personal browsing hampers productivity directly – if your workforce is on YouTube, work isn’t getting done. But there’s also an indirect cost – whatever bandwidth is being taken up for streaming cat videos, could have been better utilized by diligent employees for skyping with clients… The situation is already quite severe in most working environments – A workplace research study from International Data Corp (IDC) found that:

  • 30-40 percent of employee Internet access time was not work-related.
  • 21-31 percent of employees had sent emails divulgingsensitive information, such as intellectual or trade secrets, outside of the corporate network.
  • 60 percent of all online purchases are made during work hours.

Employee Monitoring Best Practices

The Hawthorne Effect – And the Benefits of Transparency The underlying psychological principle that makes employee computer monitoring so effective is known as the Hawthorne Effect. Simply put it relates to the phenomenon that people tend to improve their behavior when they’re aware of being observed. This principle is well documented and was first referred to in 1958 by researcher Henry A. Landsberger during his analysis of experiments conducted during the 1920s and 1930s at the Hawthorne Works factory complex. People tend to improve their behavior when they’re aware of being observed – This is known as the Hawthorne effect As such it immediately becomes obvious that employees MUST KNOW their computers are being monitored – this isn’t only an ethical question – it’s also in the best interest of the business from a purely pragmatic angle. Don’t Drown In Data – Filter Effectively Monitoring employees’ computer activity is a herculean task. Consider that in 2014 the average number of emails processed daily by a single employee was calculated at 121. That in itself is already a hefty pile of hay to start searching for needles, and we haven’t even mentioned monitoring website access and applications usage… The amounts of data generated while monitoring even a small company are staggering and far beyond the ability of human processing. Identifying issues effectively requires automated smart filtering as a critical first step. It’s here that the best tools stand out. Examples of effective filters could be:

  • References to inappropriate materials – violence, hatred, porn, etc.
  • Access of sensitive company documents and IP
  • Browsing of job websites, etc…

Ideally any such event should alert both the employee and management, allowing for further processing as required. Process As with any enterprise software – the tool is only as good as the processes put in place to manage its usage. To reap the full, or indeed any, benefits from having employee computer monitoring software installed in your organization you MUST put in place and ENFORCE policies and processes for the deployment, management and monitoring of the tool. Typically the responsibility is shared between the IT department and HR. Our experience is that often it’s the IT team were many of the problems originate – it’s a classic case of the cat looking after the cream. It’s often beneficial to minimize the involvement of the IT team with the tool as much as possible. From HR’s perspective the best tools and policies to put in place are those that allow for a maximum degree of self-regulation. An effective strategy is to have the monitoring platform send out weekly reports to all employees regarding their PERSONAL performance and productivity. In most cases once an employee is made aware that their performance in a given week was less than stellar – they’ll make an effort to improve without requiring any further instruction. This not only saves HR time and effort, it helps reduce workplace confrontation to a minimum, thus contributing to a more pleasant environment. Does slow internet in your workplace affect your or your employees productivity? Let us know in the comments section below!

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