The 6 mistakes that could get you fired thanks to 'bossware'

Six mistakes that could get you fired at work if your employer is snooping on you with ‘bossware’ (and most companies are already doing it)

  • Sixty percent of companies already deploy ‘bossware’
  • Hard-to-detect software can watch what you do and even listen to you
  • READ MORE: I’m a career expert – here’s how to do an Out of Office

Almost everyone reading this will have worried, even just for a moment, about what they have searched online on their work computer, or said to a colleague on Slack.

And while most write it off as being ‘paranoid’, there is good reason to be concerned about what you do and say at work, even if it is done virtually.

Katie Winstanley, Group Head of HR, at global recruitment specialist Morson Group, told that 60 percent of employers are now using some form of ‘bossware’ on company devices – software that tracks employee productivity or performance monitoring.

Winstanley said that ‘bossware’ is often used to track productivity during work hours, to ensure they are not sharing company information, and to ensure remote teams are actually working.

Warning signs that this software is installed no your device include strange network activity and your computer using unusual amounts of RAM (you can see how much RAM a Windows machine is using in Task Manager, accessed by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Escape). 

Katie Winstanley. Group Head of HR, at global recruitment specialist Morson Group (Morson Group) 

But the problem is it’s hard to tell for most people. These are some of the ways in which ‘bossware’ can lead to employees being fired, she warns: 

Having controversial conversations near your PC

Having conversations near your PC could lead to you losing your job, Winstanley warned.

She said, ‘While less common, some monitoring software can access microphones and cameras on devices. Inappropriate discussions or activities captured through these could lead to trouble.’

Typing the wrong thing

Some ‘bosware’ tracks everything you type on your work PC, sending a record to your employer (regardless of whether you are typing a personal email at lunchtime, for example).

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Winstanley said: ’Some monitoring software tracks keystrokes. Excessive personal use during work hours, or even writing sensitive information in personal documents, could be tracked.’

Inappropriate social media posts

Some ‘bossware’ doesn’t just track what you are doing on the internet, it watches for social media activity – and this could lead to job losses.

Winstanley said: ’While it’s known that some monitoring software tracks internet usage, some may also monitor social media behavior, including posts, comments, and messages. Inappropriate or controversial content could potentially lead to disciplinary action if it reflects negatively on the company.’

Being outside your house too much

Much modern ‘bossware’ includes GPS monitoring so your employer can see if you leave your house, if you’re carrying a company phone.

Winstanley said: ‘Some tools might integrate GPS tracking or monitor the location of company-issued devices. Being outside of designated work areas during work hours might raise red flags!’

Email Content

Beyond monitoring email activity and recipients, some software can scan the content of emails.

Sharing confidential information or inappropriate communication could result in termination.

Using your phone ‘inappropriately’ when NOT at work

If your phone has ‘bossware’ on it, it’s quite possible your employer is monitoring what you do even when NOT at work, and inappropriate use might lead to termination.

Winstanley said: ’Companies might track devices even outside of work hours. Inappropriate use during personal time, especially if it affects your work performance, might cause problems because it could make employees feel unduly controlled and demotivate them.

Failing to lock your PC screen

Leaving sensitive company information on your PC screen while away from your desk could lead to you losing your job, Winstanley warned.

She said: ‘Some software takes regular screenshots or records the screen.

‘Inappropriate content, browsing, or sensitive company information accidentally shared on the screen might land you in hot water!’

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