The complete guide to using the DeskTime screenshots feature at your company

Krista Krumina 13.03.2017

This guide has everything you need to know about DeskTime’s new time tracking with screenshots feature.

We rolled out this screen monitoring feature just a month ago, and today already 25% of our customers are using it and have taken almost 200K screenshots with DeskTime!

But is it for you?

If you want bigger control over your company’s resources, and especially – if you’re managing a remote team, the answer is yes, this new feature might be exactly what you need to try.

Keep reading to learn what this new feature does, what purposes you can use it for, and how to use it without being creepy.

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What are DeskTime Screenshots?

DeskTime Employee screen monitoring

The DeskTime screenshots feature lets account admins capture employees’ computer screens at random 5, 10, 15 or 30-minute intervals. That way managers can view their employees’ activity throughout the day, and have bigger control over company’s time resources.

For a long time it was one of the most requested features, and here’s why:

With time tracking you can see what programs and apps are actively being used. But every dummy knows that it’s possible to open various windows in parallel. So your time tracking software records time spent on the ”active” app that’s in the forefront, but meanwhile it’s possible to have a distracting URL opened in the background.

(Really, watching YouTube videos and even movies on Netflix in the background during work is not that uncommon today!)

And while you can fool time tracking, the screenshot feature is a much tougher cookie.

DeskTime productivity tracker captures everything, but only highlights ”unproductive” and ”suspicious” screenshots in your admin dashboard. Where ”unproductive” means that a person is using unproductive apps, and ”suspicious” – if an employee has more than one window or browser opened at the same time, and at least one of them contain an unproductive app, program, or URL.

Screenshots are less often used in office environments, but are more important when working with remote teams who are often paid by the hour. Just occasionally scanning through the captured screens lets managers make sure the company’s time and money is not wasted.

screenshot monitoring DeskTime

What screenshot monitoring can be used for?

Our customers use screenshots for various reasons, and here are the most common ones:

To track remote workers

As mentioned previously, screenshots allow managers to see their remote workers’ activity during their working hours. That way managers can make sure this time (that is paid by the hour) is not spent on some side activities. It promotes transparency in the company and is proof of fair use of the company’s resources.

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Use DeskTime for time management, and always stay on top of your team’s efficiency ratings. 

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To track problematic workers

Sometimes there are employees who look exemplary ”on paper”, but their actual work results don’t keep up with that. By turning on the screenshot feature for your problematic employees, it’s easy to solve the mystery.

But don’t spy! Let the person know you’re about to use the screenshots feature, and then either see the results improving, or find out the exact reason why they’re not.

What’s great about DeskTime screenshots is that even if you have a large team, it’s easy to notice problematic situations at a glance because:

DeskTime will highlight all suspicious or unproductive screen captures, so you won’t have to go through all your screenshots. The ”suspicious” screenshots will be marked with an exclamation mark, while all ”unproductive” screenshots will have a red frame around them.

suspicious and unproductive screenshots

To see what you’ve been working on

Just as time tracking, screenshots can also be great for personal use. At the end of the week, review your own screenshots to recall what you’ve been doing. It’s great if you need to write reports but the data from time tracking looks too general and you want more detail.

How to use the screenshots feature without being creepy?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking:

Screen monitoring is creepy!

It may sound creepy, but it doesn’t have to be. If used for the right purposes – to ensure a team’s productivity and decrease wasted working time – it can become the first step to increased transparency in the workplace, and bigger trust from the management.

Here are three ways to use the screenshots feature without being creepy:

Scan, don’t scrutinize

Even if you’ve caught your employee doing personal, work-unrelated things during his office hours, it’s not necessary to investigate any further. Don’t dive into details. You’ve got the proof, that’s enough.

Scan through your screenshots to notice problematic traits, but don’t read your workers’ personal Facebook messages, even if captured in a screenshot. Curiosity is natural, but that’s not what this feature was made for.

The safest solution?

Choose the blurred screenshots as your default option to give more privacy to your employees. That way you’ll be able to see apps opened, but details such as text won’t be decipherable.

DeskTime blurred screenshots

Don’t be a robot

Understand that your employees are not a team of robots, so don’t be one yourself.

Let’s say you’ve noticed someone’s used social media during work hours. But before you make remarks, analyze if that’s really a trait that points to a problem, or your employees just being human.

No one (not even you) can focus all 8 hours a day. Our brain needs a break, and some people may prefer to spend this break on Facebook or YouTube videos. So let them and don’t obsess with excessive monitoring.

A study shows that in the long term too much control leads to increased stress and decreased job satisfaction and productivity. Of course – nobody loves a job with their boss looking over their shoulder!

Do communicate early

Don’t surprise your team with a statement that you’re turning on the screenshots feature now, and leave without any explanations.

This new type of monitoring might be difficult to chew, so it’s important that you inform the team earlier, explaining your reasons and giving them some time to get used to the idea. And be there to answer their questions and concerns.

communication at work

So speak up early and be there for your team. Because at the end of the day, trust is what matters: you want to make sure your team is doing its job productively, and your employees need to know that you won’t invade their privacy.

When using DeskTime screenshots, don’t forget to inform your employees that they can use the ‘Private time” feature for their personal time. While on ”Private time” mode, screenshots won’t be taken.

How to start using the screenshots feature?

Now that you know why and how to use DeskTime screenshots, there’s just one thing left: start using it.

Here’s how:

First, sign up or log into your DeskTime account. Next, decide if you want to use this feature for all your team, or just specific employees.

If you want to turn it on it for everyone, head to Settings –> Teams. At the bottom of the ”Settings” section, check the box ”Allow screen capture”. If you want to use blurred screenshots, you must check both ”Allow screen capture” and ”Blur screen capture” boxes.

Sometimes you won’t need to enable this feature for all employees. For example, if you’ve got team members working with confidential information, or you might just want to use it for remote employee monitoring only.

To enable screenshots for specific employees, go to ”Settings” –> ”Team Members” –> ”Edit”, and again scroll down to enable regular or blurred screenshots of your choice.

Additionally, you can choose to take screenshots in two sizes – 640x400px or 1024x640px. The larger captions, the more details you’ll see.

That’s it, you’re all set!

Have questions about DeskTime auto screenshots? Comment below or write to us at [email protected] at any time.

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