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A close watch on an object, a person, a thing, or even a place in the working environment is not something absurd. The major reasons behind surveillance in workplaces are to protect assets, equipment, machinery, and most of all valuable information of the firm.

Sometimes, surveillance can be placed on the employees not just for the purpose of security. Most organizations can use surveillance systems to checkmate or keep track of worker’s productivity, and as a method of assessment to keep track of their contributions to the growth of such a workplace.

According to research carried out by IDC on the internet time used by employees, 30% to 40% of the time used by workers on the internet, is not related to their jobs. The same thing can be said for about 60% of online purchases done during office work time. Hence, there is a need for some kind of surveillance to check the activity and ensure a better and smooth running of a business.

So what are the different types of employee monitoring in the workplace?​

1. Types of monitoring Electronic
2. Physical observation
3. Technical
4. Monitoring methods Overt (obvious)
5. Covert (hidden)
6 Mobile
7 Stationary

In this article, we will talk about the various kinds of monitoring and surveillance, their importance, and why some are preferred over others.

Common types of monitoring employees

From physical observation to sophisticated technological methods, there are different methods that can be adopted when it comes to monitoring your employees.

Electronic observation

This is the most commonly used type of surveillance by private investigators. But can also come in handy in workplaces.

This involves the use of technologies such as televisions, radios, wiretapping, etc. somehow, this method is personal and may involve persons, e-mails, social media, phones, and internet usage. It is recommended in workplaces that deal mostly with electronics and work with the internet.

Physical Observation

This type of method involves a third party, a supervisor, or any other person paid to carry out this surveillance. They can be disguised, stakeouts and investigators.

But this method may involve a lot of complications such as bribery from workers or lack of accountability.


This is where the CCTVs come into play. Technical surveillance is much more accurate in results and may require a separate room for control.

Cameras are put in place either in motion or stationary, covering a space. Technical methods may also include the mounting of audio devices strategic places, the choice here depends on the nature of work or business.

Another type of technical method is seen in companies that deal with vehicles. The GPS system helps managers to track the location of their vehicle at every point.

This is the surveillance system used by delivery businesses, car lending, etc.

Types of monitoring methods

Amongst these various types of surveillance, the method and tactics should also be considered in order to increase the effectiveness of monitoring.

Overt vs. Covert

Overt methods of surveillance involve methods where the different kinds, people, devices, etc. are placed in locations known to the staff in these workplaces. This kind of method is used to deter subjects from stealing and protecting company assets.

The covert method is directly opposite, where the surveillance systems are hidden and undetected by the subjects. It can also involve the routine movement of cameras to cover different locations in the workplace at intervals.

Mobile vs. Stationary

The mobile investigation of subjects in workplaces is usually applicable to the physical observation types. Where the supervisors have to move around the workplace to monitor activities.

In the stationary method, just as the name suggests, the devices are set in place to watch over specific spots, devices, etc.

Why is employee monitoring important?

Efficient Time Management

One of the benefits of surveillance in the workplace is an improvement in productivity and policy-making. When employers incorporate surveillance such as the electronic type, they can be able to know through the data they have collected, the activities of their employees while in the workplace.

If an employee spends work time on a specific website, be it a shopping website or social media, this will help the employer to cut down excesses by instituting office policies and blocking of such sites using browser filters. In fact, according to an AMA survey in the U.S., more than 65 percent of employers use site filters.

Loss Prevention

No matter how you want to think about it, humans will continue to be humans. Large workplaces that deal with a lot of instruments, commodities, and equipment that it becomes so difficult to keep stock of them.

Using a laundry place as an example, such workplaces buy a lot of washing materials and workers may pry on the inefficient stock keeping to take some of these inventories home. Employee monitoring can help you control and manage minor theft even down to your paper clips.

It can also help to closely monitor employees from selling some of the company’s vital information. Some sophisticated surveillance systems have the ability to recover memos, e-mails that have been deleted from computers for better investigation.

Improved Employee Performance

When employees are aware of surveillance, especially on their emails and computers. There is an innate intuition that helps them become more responsible in their different work posts.

Bearing in mind that your employer is always on the watch can help to improve performance and productivity. According to AMA, 84% of employees who make use of different surveillance systems, inform their employees about their monitored emails and computers.

While about 78% who make use of surveillance systems in securing assets also inform their employees. Then, 89% also inform their employees about video performance monitoring systems.

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