Today’s workforce is mobile thanks to smart phones and other mobile gadgets. Unfortunately for small business owners, it’s hard to keep tabs on a mobile worker. To ensure workers are with a customer instead of hanging out at the local coffee shop, small business owners can use Google’s Latitude app. The free app can be installed on a phone or computer and uses GPS to locate workers. The app works with Android powered devices, the iPhone, most color BlackBerry devices, most Windows Mobile 5.0 devices and most Symbian S60 devices.
Many companies, including small businesses, will equip workers with a smartphone in an attempt to make them more productive. In the past, making calls, checking e-mail or sending texts were the extent of a smartphone’s capabilities. Now, you can visit social networking web sites, view photos and videos and even watch TV on the devices. To prevent wasteful use small business owners can use BlueWare, which the company dubs, “The Cell Phone Spy.” For $49.95, the software claims to extract SMS/Text messages, monitor all incoming and outgoing calls, forward all calls to the business owner and view photos on the phone from the business owner’s phone. The software works on any Java-enabled cell phone that has Bluetooth. But keep in mind spying is illegal in some states so BlueWare urges buyers of the software to use it as allowed by federal, state and local laws.
Surfing the Web can be a legitimate part of the job, but it can also be a big time waster for workers. To keep employees on track, small businesses owners can buy software that monitors Internet use. SpectorSoft sells its SpectorPro software geared toward home and small office users for $99.95, which claims to captures all e-mail, chats, instant messages and visited Web sites as well as any applications that are run. The software also has a DVR-like play back, which means you can rewind and play what is on the computer. The software is available for both PCs and Macs.
Worried about employees spending too much time on social networking sites? Check out Teneros’ Social Sentry software, which allows companies to monitor the social networking communications of their employees by monitoring all activity on social networks including Facebook and Twitter. The software, which is accessed over the Internet, can monitor what employees are doing from any device including mobile devices. The software can also create reports and analyze the social network usage of employees. Since there isn’t any software or hardware installations required, the service can be deployed and the small business can start monitoring social networking usage in less than an hour, according to the company.
Monitoring what an employee is doing online is great, but taking proactive steps to prevent Internet abuse is even better. WebWatcher, the computer monitoring software that sells for $97, not only lets small business owners access every e-mail, instant message, chat and Web sites visited, but can limited access to software programs, block access to Web sites and set up notifications when alert words are used in any communications. An added benefit the software is invisible to the computer user.
By Donna Fuscaldo The Internet has broken barriers to conducting business worldwide, but it can also impede productivity in the workplace. It’s hard to not to sneak a peek at Facebook, Twitter or shop online during work hours. But small business owners need not fret. There’s a host of software and technology on the market to monitor what workers are doing during the work day. Here’s a look at a few.