What is Bossware? What You Need to Know About the New Employee Surveillance Trend

What is Bossware? What You Need to Know About the New Employee Surveillance Trend

The pandemic has made a remote work environment more common than not, and companies are working to adjust to the new look of the “office.”  Approximately 83% of companies have implemented some form of remote work with employees working from home either full-time or part-time.

The biggest challenge for managers is how to ensure employees are being just as productive at home as they are at work. So far, statistics have pointed to higher productivity from a remote environment due to there being fewer distractions (no one stopping by your desk for a chat, etc.)

Another challenge has been in the other direction, how do you ensure employees aren’t burning themselves out and never leaving their desk, now that it’s in their home?

These are some of the questions that a new form of employee software, called “bossware” was designed to address

If you haven’t heard of bossware yet, you’ll likely run across the term soon. Many companies have been promoting it as organizations upgrade their technology infrastructures to accommodate a new remote and hybrid environment. 

We’ll go through what bossware is and the things you need to be wary of when using it at your company.

Bossware Explained

Bossware is the term given collectively to a new breed of employee surveillance apps. You’ll find this type of tool marketed to track employee productivity, but some versions of bossware go well beyond simply tracking how quickly someone accomplishes a task.

Some bossware will take intermittent screenshots of an employee’s computer, record keystrokes, or even access a webcam or microphone.

Like other types of business software, not all bossware is created equally. There are different types of employee productivity monitoring tools, some of which are very helpful and can improve employee engagement and wellbeing. On the other hand, some are invasive and give the feel of “big brother” watching.

Types of Bossware

To get a better understanding of employee surveillance apps and what they can mean to a workplace, we’ll go through two examples. One of these, you many have worked with yourself.

Microsoft Productivity Score

Microsoft 365 has a component called Productivity Score. You can use this to see how your employees are using their business tools and gain productivity insights.

For example, you might see in Microsoft Productivity Score that employees are emailing file attachments more than sending links to cloud files, which is a more optimized workflow. This lets you know to engage with your team to go over the benefits of sharing cloud files instead.

Even though this would be considered a form of bossware, it looks at your team in aggregate, not on an individual level, which can be a better fit for many companies that want to stay on positive terms with employees.


Another form of bossware that is much more invasive can be seen with Kickidler. The software provider’s on-screen monitoring tool allows an employer to view and record the screen of an employee at any time to see what they are doing. 

This software also includes keylogging capabilities and remote access, which are some pretty heavy-handed features. On top of this, these features can be used without the employee realizing it.

This is an example of the other side of bossware, which is more like babysitting than trying to foster a productive remote team.

Tips on Using Surveillance Software Productively

Be Transparent

Whatever type of employee surveillance software your company may choose to use to keep your remote team on track, you should be transparent about it.

Spying on an employee’s computer screen without telling them is just a bad situation in the making and it doesn’t foster the type of trust that well-performing organizations have between management and staff.

Make sure you explain the types of monitoring the company is using and why, so employees are aware upfront.

Use Tools That Help Everyone

Some bossware is designed to help both employers and employees. Microsoft Viva Insights, for example, provides helpful reminders for employees to take breaks and gives managers details on the team’s wellbeing as it related to the hours employees work. 

This type of productivity monitoring is designed to provide benefits to everyone and create a better working environment all around.

Only Use the Surveillance Tools You Need

If you’re using software that takes screenshots of an employee’s computer at intermittent time intervals, make sure you really need something like this. Don’t just use it because you can.

Do you have time to review those screenshots? Does the work that the employee turns in warrant this type of surveillance? 

Make sure you’re using tools for the right reasons and that surveillance is warranted. Not all employees are equal when it comes to trust and hard work, and you don’t want to lose the good ones because they felt you didn’t trust them.  

Looking for Productivity Solutions for Your Remote Team?

Quantum PC Services can help your Sturgeon Bay business do remote teams right! We can guide you to the right types of productivity solutions that benefit both you and your employees. 

Contact us today to learn more! Call 920-256-1214 or reach us online.