The Rise of Bossware: How Remote Work Monitoring Tools Are Shaping the Workplace

Published Categorized as Innovation

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work has become the new norm for many of us. But with this shift comes a new set of challenges, one of which is the rise of bossware. Employers use this software to monitor employee behavior on their work devices. It’s like having a virtual supervisor peering over your shoulder as you work from home. Except this supervisor has access to every keystroke you make and every website you visit.


Understanding Bossware: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Bossware encompasses a range of tracking technologies designed to give employers insight into how their employees are spending their time online. These apps, sometimes referred to as “spyware” or “monitoring software,” bypass typical data-access permissions to collect information on everything from website visits to keyboard usage. They can even take screenshots and record video feeds of employees’ screens in real-time.

The Most Common Types of Bossware

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the most prevalent forms of employee surveillance is activity monitoring. This type of software provides employers with detailed reports on the applications and websites employees interact with, as well as metadata related to emails, social media activity, and more.

Popular Bossware Apps: Who’s Watching You?

1. Teramind

Teramind is one of the leading players in the bossware market, boasting clients across various industries, including healthcare, banking, and telecommunications. Its suite of monitoring features includes email tracking, website activity monitoring, keystroke logging, and even video recording of user actions.

2. Hubstaff

Despite its innocuous name, Hubstaff offers employers a robust set of monitoring tools, including screenshot capture, desktop monitoring, keystroke logging, and URL tracking. Its client roster includes well-known companies like Ring, Groupon, and Instacart.

3. TimeDoctor

TimeDoctor prides itself on its ability to keep employees on task, with features like automated alerts for time-wasting websites and daily productivity reports. It’s a no-nonsense solution for employers looking to maximize their team’s efficiency.

4. ActivTrak

ActivTrak takes a slightly different approach to monitoring, focusing on providing visibility and insights into employee productivity without resorting to invasive techniques like keystroke logging or live video surveillance. It’s used by thousands of organizations worldwide to track hours worked and analyze employee performance.

Beyond Bossware: The Role of Everyday Tools in Remote Monitoring

While bossware apps are designed explicitly for employee surveillance, everyday tools like Slack, Google Workspace, and Microsoft Teams can also be configured to track user activity. These platforms offer administrators features like message archiving, file retention, and eDiscovery tools to ensure compliance and oversight.

Protecting Your Privacy in a Remote World

With the prevalence of bossware and remote monitoring tools, it’s essential to take steps to protect your privacy while working from home. Be mindful of the websites you visit and the activities you engage in on your work device, as everything you do could be under scrutiny.


1. Can my employer monitor my personal activities on my work device?

Yes, most bossware apps do not distinguish between work and personal activities, so it’s best to assume that everything you do on your work device is being monitored.

2. How can I protect my privacy while working remotely?

Avoid engaging in personal activities on your work device and use separate devices for work and personal tasks whenever possible.

3. Are there any legal protections against employee monitoring?

Laws regarding employee monitoring vary by jurisdiction, but in general, employers have broad discretion to monitor employee activity on company-owned devices.

4. Can I refuse to use bossware at my job?

In most cases, your employer has the right to require you to use monitoring software as a condition of employment. Refusing to do so could result in disciplinary action or termination.

5. Is there an alternative to bossware for remote work monitoring?

Yes, services like ForestVPN offer secure and private remote access solutions without invasive monitoring features.

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Bossware and remote work monitoring tools have become prevalent in the modern workplace, raising concerns about privacy and employee autonomy. While these tools offer employers valuable insights into productivity and efficiency, they also pose significant risks to individual privacy and freedom. If you’re worried about the implications of bossware on your remote work experience, consider using ForestVPN. With ForestVPN, you can protect your privacy and maintain control over your digital workspace. Don’t let intrusive monitoring software compromise your autonomy—switch to ForestVPN today for secure and private remote access. Get started with ForestVPN now.

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