Ways to Get Around Screenshot Monitoring

Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO Jibble

Screenshot monitoring. Don’t you just hate it?

As the CEO of Jibble, (which has recently introduced an all-free employee screenshot monitoring feature, by the way!) I know a thing or two about screenshot monitoring.

I’m also well aware of how employees can have strong feelings and concerns regarding such monitoring practices, seeking ways to avoid them while maintaining productivity and privacy.

In this article, we’ll discuss some responsible ways to get around screenshot monitoring, followed by some cheeky ways to do the same. So, without further ado, read on.

In this article, I will go through:

What is Screenshot Monitoring Really?

Screenshot monitoring software is a tool used in various workplaces, mainly remote work arrangements, to keep track of employee activities.

It involves software that captures screenshots of an employee’s computer screen at random intervals (mostly at 10-minute intervals). These screenshots are then stored and made accessible to employers for review and further analysis. 

Why Do Employers Monitor Employees?

Employers monitor employees for various reasons, primarily to understand how they spend time at work. However, drawing from my experiences and conversations with industry peers, here’s a more personal take on why we employers really use screenshot monitoring tools:

  • To spot where employees might need more training or support.
  • To keep a visual record of project milestones and progress.
  • For catching any security issues or misuse of company equipment early.
  • As proof in discussions or disputes about work-related issues.
  • To assure the clients that we’re billing them fairly for the work done.
  • To pinpoint and smooth out any snags in overall workflows.
  • Ensuring we’re on the right side of industry regulations and company rules.
  • Fostering a workplace culture that values honesty and responsibility.
  • Making sure performance reviews are fair and based on real data.
  • To prevent false time reporting and encourage better time management.
  • To tailor rewards and perks to match the real work habits of our team.

Responsible Ways to Get Around Screenshot Monitoring

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If you didn’t know already, there are actually some responsible ways you can get around being monitored and control your screen recording. Here are a few:

Tip #1: Plan Each Work Day Efficiently

Planning each workday efficiently is all about knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it. Start your day by making a list of your tasks. Put the most important ones at the top. Then, think about how long each task will take and plan your day around that. It’s like making a schedule for yourself. This way, when your computer takes a screenshot, it will show you working on something important. It also helps you stay focused and not get sidetracked by other things. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to review your accomplishments and prepare for the next day. This helps you track your progress and ensures you don’t miss anything important. Additionally, doing so during moments when a screenshot is taken will demonstrate that you’re focused on work and not engaged in unrelated activities.

Tip #2: Separate Work and Personal Devices

Using different devices for work and personal stuff is a great way to keep things organized. When you’re working, use your work device and save all your personal activities for your personal device. This means no checking personal emails or social media on your work computer. It helps make sure that if your work computer takes a screenshot, it’s always something work-related. It also keeps your personal information private and separate.

Tip #3: Adhere Strictly to Company Policies and Guidelines

Understanding and following your company’s policies is really important. These policies are there to make sure everyone is working correctly and safely. Make sure you know what these rules are. They might be about how to use the company’s computers, internet usage, or how to handle certain kinds of sensitive information. When you diligently follow these rules, you make sure that you’re always doing the right thing, even if a screenshot is taken of your computer.

Tip #4: Initiate Open Communication with Management

Starting a conversation with the management about the monitoring is a good idea. This is your chance to talk about any worries you have and to understand why the monitoring is happening. This conversation is not just about voicing concerns; it’s also an opportunity to build trust and potentially influence how things are done in the future. By initiating this dialogue, you demonstrate your seriousness and your investment in creating a positive work environment. 

Tip #5: Adjust Privacy Settings on the Computer

Make sure your computer’s privacy settings are set up right to control what information your computer can share. Start by going into the privacy settings in the control panel. Here, you can adjust which apps have access to features like your camera or microphone, ensuring only work-related apps have these permissions. Also, pay attention to your internet browser settings, managing cookies and browsing history to minimize personal data collection. This ensures that only work-appropriate information is visible, especially if your computer takes screenshots. It helps maintain a professional environment and keeps your personal information private.

Tip #6: Seek Legal Advice on Workplace Monitoring

If you’re not sure about the rules of being monitored at work, it might be a good idea to talk to a legal professional who specializes in employment law. They can tell you about your rights and what’s legally allowed in terms of monitoring. Start by searching online for employment lawyers in your area or ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues. Once you find a lawyer, set up a consultation to discuss your situation. This way, you’ll gain a better understanding of the legalities surrounding workplace monitoring, ensuring you know what’s okay and what’s not.

Cheeky Ways to Avoid Screenshot Monitoring (Not Recommended!)

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Now that we’ve discussed the responsible ways to navigate the world of screen monitoring, let’s delve into some of the cheekier tactics that employees might think of but really shouldn’t go for. 

#1: Disabling Monitoring Software

Some employees might consider disabling or tampering with the monitoring software. While this might seem like an immediate solution, it’s a risky move. Disabling software can be a breach of company policy and might lead to serious consequences, including disciplinary actions. It shows a lack of trust and cooperation and can significantly damage the employer-employee relationship. It’s a short-term tactic with potentially long-term negative impacts on your career.

#2: Using Virtual Machine Environments

Running a virtual machine to simulate a separate operating system might sound clever, but it’s not recommended. This method involves creating a digital workspace that the monitoring software can’t penetrate. However, it’s technically complicated and often against company policies. This might protect personal activities but can lead to questions about integrity and professional conduct, damaging your reputation and trustworthiness in the workplace.

#3: Manipulating Work Appearance

Another cheeky method is manipulating the appearance of being busy, like leaving work-related screens open while not actively working. Employees might think this helps them appear productive during screenshot captures. However, it’s deceptive and doesn’t reflect actual work ethic or productivity. Over time, such tactics can be detected, leading to questions about honesty and reliability, which are critical attributes for professional growth and trust in the workplace.

#4: Automating Mouse Movements

Automating mouse movements or keystrokes to mimic activity is a tactic some might consider. This involves using software or devices that create the illusion of being active on the computer. While it might fool the monitoring system temporarily, it’s a form of deceit and can have serious repercussions if discovered. It undermines the trust between the employee and the employer and contradicts the principles of integrity and honesty in professional environments.

#5: Utilizing Dual Monitors

Using dual monitors might seem like a smart workaround; however, it can be problematic. The issue here is that monitoring software often captures both screens, so personal activities might still be recorded. Moreover, using one of the screens for non-work-related activities during work hours can be against company policies. This split attention can also impact your productivity and focus, and if noticed, it might raise questions about your work ethic and dedication.

#6: Keeping Idle Windows Open

Some employees leave idle windows of work-related applications open to give the impression of continuous work. This cheeky tactic, while seemingly harmless, can be misleading. It creates a facade of productivity without actual work being done. If the monitoring software also tracks activity levels or keyboard strokes, this inconsistency could be easily spotted. Such impudent practices can lead to doubts about your honesty and can tarnish your professional reputation.

#7: Timing Predictable Screenshots

If the monitoring software takes screenshots at predictable intervals, such as every 10-minute interval, you might time your work activities to coincide with these moments. This strategy, aimed at only appearing productive at specific times, is not a genuine reflection of work ethic. It’s a risky game of timing that, if uncovered, could severely impact your credibility and trust with the employer. Consistent hard work and genuine productivity are always the best policies.

#8: Manually Editing Timesheets

Manually editing timesheets to alter work hours or activities is another approach some might consider. This involves changing recorded times or activities to mask the actual work done. This tactic is a clear violation of trust and honesty in the workplace. Falsifying timesheets can have serious implications, including potential legal repercussions. It not only undermines your integrity but can also lead to significant disciplinary action or even immediate termination.

What to Look Out for in Our New Screenshot Monitoring Feature

As I mentioned at the very beginning, Jibble is rolling out a new screenshot monitoring feature; trust me, it’s something to get excited about. We’ve thoughtfully designed this with a blend of innovation, privacy, and user respect. It’s not just about keeping track of tasks; it’s about doing it smartly, ethically, and with a human touch. Let me walk you through some standout features that make our approach genuinely unique and, dare I say, revolutionary in the industry:

  • Random Screenshots Every 10 Minute: First up, we take random screenshots every 10-minute intervals. This means fair monitoring without constant pressure. It’s like a periodic check-in rather than constant surveillance.
  • Offline Data Syncing: What if you’re offline? No worries. Our innovative system captures work-related data even then and syncs it once you’re back online. It ensures that work done offline is recognized, too. 
  • Multiple Screen Capturing: Working on multiple screens? We’ve got that covered. Our system captures all active screens to give a view of your work, providing an honest, full perspective of your multitasking abilities.
  • Selective Monitoring Control for Managers: Managers, you’re going to love this. You can customize monitoring settings for different teams – the right tool for the right team, providing control where it’s needed.
  • User Consent for Screen Capturing: Consent is key. We ensure all monitoring is conducted with employee permission. It’s not just ethical; it’s respectful. We believe in monitoring with your approval, not behind your back.
  • Blurred Screenshots for Privacy: Privacy matters. That’s why our screenshots are blurred to protect sensitive information. Plus, employees can view and delete. This way you can maintain privacy while still being accountable.

Feel free to check out our 100% FREE Employee Screenshot Monitoring feature – a step towards understanding how monitoring can be done ethically. We’re excited for you to experience it.