What is "Bossware" & How Do You Use It Responsibly?

If you’ve read the headlines recently, you might have seen the same term coming up again and again: Bossware. Don’t worry. Bossware isn’t a new kind of malware. It’s actually software that organisations can use for employee surveillance. 

Surveillance of employees, of course, is a controversial subject. We’re in the age of data privacy – and people, for the most part, are more concerned than ever about having their privacy infringed by technology.

Saying this, bossware can be helpful for businesses – especially businesses that operate remotely. Below, we’ll dive into what bossware is, how it works and how you can use it responsibly. 

Where did bossware come from?

When people worked in the office every day, it was easy to see who was working hard, who might need extra support and who could take on more work. However, when employees started working from home during the pandemic, employers lost this visibility. 

It was no longer straightforward to see who struggled with their workload and who had time to spare. Employers had to trust that employees were honest about their hours, but it became harder to divide team tasks evenly and fairly. 

From this challenge was born Bossware: a surveillance software that monitors and tracks remote employees. In 2021, Express VPN found that over three-quarters of businesses used Bossware to review their employees’ performance when working from home. 

What is Bossware?

Essentially, Bossware is a piece of software that you install on your employees’ devices. The software can monitor everything that your employees do: how long they are on their laptop for, what applications they use, what websites they visit, who they are speaking to and where they are logging on from.

These solutions can be configured with employees’ work shifts, so you can track whether employees are online when they should be. The most advanced of these solutions even feature key-logging functionality, enabling you to see what your employees are typing – including personal messages and passwords.

The invasive nature of Bossware makes it a pretty controversial software. While it can help to improve employee productivity and boost employer visibility, it can also be seen as obtrusive. 

We want to give you a balanced view of Bossware so, below, is an overview of the positives and negatives. 

Positives of Bossware

  • Bossware gives you visibility into employee work patterns while they are working remotely, so you can delegate work more efficiently and ensure people stay productive 
  • Bossware can help with invoices as it has the functionality to track the number of hours an employee works on individual projects 
  • Bossware can boost employee productivity, as your people are more likely to perform and go the extra mile when they are being monitored 

Negatives of Bossware 

  • Employees may feel like bossware is invasive and obtrusive
  • If Bossware is poorly deployed, it could infringe on your people’s privacy 
  • Bossware may lead to employee burnout as employees may feel pressured to work longer hours, knowing they are being monitored 
  • If your employees use their own laptops and mobiles for work, they may not allow you to install Bossware on their devices 

Should I invest in Bossware?

It’s up to your organisation whether or not to invest in Bossware. The software is generally legal, so, really, deploying it is a personal choice.

However, before purchasing it, we advise you to think about your employees’ reactions to the software. If you think you will face backlash over Bossware, it might not be worth it. After all, employee satisfaction is crucial to a healthy workplace.

Also, if you plan to return to the office on a full-time basis, then we would advise against Bossware. This software is designed for companies that operate primarily remotely. 

How to deploy Bossware responsibility

If you’d like to go ahead with Bossware, you need to make sure that you use it responsibly. This means putting your employees’ privacy and security first. Here are some things to do before installing Bossware: 

  • Let your employees know in written policies about the monitoring software 
  • Be explicit about what will be monitored, how the software works and what data you will store 
  • Configure the software so that it only tracks employees during work hours and only analyses their usage of workplace applications 

Finally, we want to point out that there are several other ways to improve visibility in the remote working world – without invasive software. If you’d like to learn more, we advise you to speak with one of our IT consultants, who will be happy to help.  

Get Expert Help With Remote Working Productivity

GKM2 can help your Sydney area business implement helpful IT policies and keep them updated as your technology infrastructure evolves.

Contact us today to learn more. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or reach out online.