As more and more businesses grapple with the complexities of a remote workforce, employee monitoring software providers are growing increasingly important. Ensuring staff members maximize the time they spend out of office during working hours is a key concern for employers with distributed teams.
In this article, we evaluate one of the best employee monitoring software options available, Work Examiner. We take an in-depth look at the software’s price plans, most important features, and customer support, and weigh up how it compares to other leading employee monitoring platforms so you can decide if it’s the right tool for your organization.
- Our guide to the best employee monitoring software solutions
Plans and pricing
There are two subscription options with Work Examiner, one for small businesses (Work Examiner Standard) and another for larger, enterprise clients (Work Examiner Professional).
Pricing is a little complicated and decreases the more users you add to your account. Thankfully, Work Examiner includes a payment calculator on its pricing page so it’s easy to work out monthly costs by selecting the plan you wish to subscribe to and the number of licenses you’d like to purchase.
For example, 1–2 Standard licenses—you pay per PC—costs $60 while 50–99 will only cost half this per license. Work Examiner Professional also costs $60 per license to begin with, but the price decrease is more gradual. For example, 50–99 Professional licenses cost $43 per user.
The key difference between the Professional and Standard plans is the way the technology is used. With Work Examiner Standard, logs are sent directly to a single administrator, like an IT manager. Work Examiner Professional works slightly differently with employee logs routed via the Work Examiner server to multiple administrators, from HR executives to management. These reports can then be exchanged across a company’s network.
This advanced infrastructure commands a higher price tag and is aimed at large companies that wish to perform qualitative analysis on all the data collected to develop reports, identify problem areas, and increase efficiency.
All licenses are perpetual and include a year of dedicated support and software updates. You can try Work Examiner for free on a 30-day trial.
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How it works
Work Examiner is a software program and must be installed on each individual employee’s device. It’s up to you how many licenses you wish to purchase and, as we mentioned, the price per license diminishes the more you purchase. According to Work Examiner, the set-up shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes, although some reviews dispute this.
The product can be split into three. Work Examiner Client can be installed remotely by an admin on an employee’s computer and collects and logs data on the user’s daily activity. Work Examiner Server can be installed on any workstation or server that will be tasked with receiving logs from employee computers.
Finally, Work Examiner Console can be installed on Work Examiner Server or if you are using the Professional service, directly onto an admin’s PC. It enables users to monitor activity remotely.
Features and services
Work Examiner has fairly straightforward features, but they should be sufficient for most employee monitoring tasks. That said, a focus on data and statistics makes it a useful tool for company-wide analysis and productivity reporting too.
The technology enables admins to track which websites an employee visits and how long they spend on particular sites. Work Examiner also tracks searches on the leading search engines, including Google and Yahoo, and provides information on idle time too.
The software logs file downloads from HTTP and HTTPS sites, categorizes websites for easy tracking, and exports logs as reports in several formats including PDF and XLS.
It’s possible to take screenshots from individual PCs in real-time or refer back to recorded sessions. For analysis purposes, the software can track a particular computer’s activity and compare it with other licensed machines. There is also an instant messaging tracker for messaging tools like Facebook messenger.
Using the Current Activity function, employers can view what a user is working on directly and with the built-in web filter can block or whitelist websites.
Work Examiner can record and track user emails sent or received through many providers including Gmail and Yahoo Mail. The purpose, as stated by Work Examiner, is to prevent data leaks and gain a better understanding of internal employee communication.
Somewhat controversially, Work Examiner includes a keylogging feature. More commonly associated with malicious hackers, the technology enables employers to record every keystroke a user makes.
In general, Work Examiner is cited as an easy-to-use product that offers the basic functionality employers require to monitor remote staff. That said, some reviewers have commented on the installation process being a little complicated.
For example, if you purchase Work Examiner Professional you’ll also need access to Microsoft’s SQL Server to complete the installation process.
One serious limitation is the fact that Work Examiner can only be deployed on Windows machines. This could be a major hindrance for organizations with a distributed workforce, although not so much for companies deploying the technology in-house—providing, of course, their IT setup is Windows-based.
Support and customer care
Work Examiner provides an impressive cache of online documentation which should cover any questions you have. It is well-presented and easy to access from the provider’s website. Failing that, you might find the answer you require in the separate FAQ page.
Free support is available via phone and email but remember, this is only available for the first year of activation and following subsequent subscriptions.
Time Doctor is perhaps less invasive than Work Examiner, and the GUI dashboard is easier to navigate too. However, for large teams Work Examiner’s professional plan is better suited as the data provided is more comprehensive.
Compared to some of its competitors, Work Examiner is lacking in advanced features too. In its defense, it provides a sturdy monitoring service, but other platforms like Hubstaff include extras like project budgeting and online invoicing tools too.
With this in mind, a platform like Hubstaff might be better suited to employers with a large number of freelancers on the books.
Some users may find the spyware elements in the software a little uncomfortable, but for employers keen to track and record everything a member of staff is up to during work time, Work Examiner is hard to beat.
That said, many employers may prefer software that’s less intrusive and perhaps easier to deploy. At the very least, if you do decide to use this software, make sure your staff know the level to which they can be tracked.
- Our guide to the best employee monitoring software solutions