Big Brother is Watching You,” stated George Orwell in his chilling classic 1984 — quickly becoming synonymous with privacy concerns and governmental oversteps. It has also become associated with employee tracking software like Teramind. In this article, I’m looking at the need for less invasive employee tracking and exploring the top Teramind alternatives employers may want to consider.

Why consider Termamind alternatives? The depth of monitoring available through Teramind in the wrong hands could be deemed excessive, invasive, and downright creepy. I know several remote developers who refer to the software as “Terror Mind.” 

If you’re among those who find Teramind a bit creepy, let’s look at some alternatives.

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The 8 best Teramind alternatives: An overview

ToolFeaturesPrice
HubstaffTime trackingApps & URL trackingProductivity insightsReporting and analyticsWorkforce managementPayroll and invoicingFree plan, paid plans start at $7 per user/month
ActivTrakProductivity metricsApplication & website usageLocation insightsWorkload managementProductivity coachingFree trial, paid plans start at $10 per user/month
BasecampTask managementTo-do listsSchedulingAutomatic check-insReportsFree trial, paid plans start at $15 per user/month
StaffCopUser activity monitoringKeystroke loggingScreen captureEmail and communication monitoringApplication usage trackingPaid plans start around $35 for 3 months and up to 25 users
VeriatoRemote employee monitoringEmployee productivityInsider risk managementWorkplace investigationsAudits & compliancePaid plans start at $25per user/month
InsightfulEmployee monitoringTime trackingAutomatic time mappingScreen MonitoringPaid plans start at $8 per user/month. 
DeskTimeTime trackingApplication monitoringURL trackingProductivity reportsPaid plans start at $7 per user/month.
Time DoctorTime trackingWebsite and application monitoringProductivity analyticsDistraction alertsPricing starts at $7 per user/month.

1. Hubstaff

Hubstaff desktop and mobile apps

Features

Hubstaff is an all-in-one workforce management tool that offers app and URL monitoring so you can track the programs and websites that your team members visit — only while the timer is running. 

You can turn on optional screen capture (randomly captured once, twice, or three times per 10 minutes) with the ability to blur screenshots if needed. 

An activity rate is generated based on mouse and keyboard movement — not keylogging — so you can track productivity levels without intruding on your team. With Hubstaff’s Insights add-on, you can see real-time workplace Insights from your dashboard. 

Altogether, these features, which you can customize to your preferences, provide a less intrusive alternative than full-screen watching and keystroke capture.

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Or, you can keep it simple and use Hubstaff for time tracking only. It’s all up to you. All this can be easily compiled into reports should you want them. The software easily integrates with apps like Trello, Mavenlink, Salesforce, and Zendesk, to name a few. It also works with PayPal, Payoneer, QuickBooks, and many more for easy payments and invoicing.

Cons

Hubstaff doesn’t spy and report on every aspect of your remote employee’s activities. For example, there’s no keystroke logging. Some who require software like Teramind may perceive this as a con.

Pricing

Free 14-day trial, paid plans starting at $7 per user/month.

Works best for

Hubstaff is perfect for any business, from small teams to large enterprises. Teams looking for an all-in-one tool to manage their workforce will love Hubstaff’s advanced features. Without the keystroke logging and invasive features, anyone looking to improve productivity without micromanagement should consider Hubstaff.

2. ActivTrak

ActivTrak homepage

Features

ActivTrak produces easy-to-read reports highlighting key user behavior analytics for each employee. It has an easy interface allows for application monitoring, remote screenshots, sensitive data redaction, and user privacy features. It offers DLP (Data Leak Protection) and full SQL data access.

With customizable alerts, productivity benchmarking, and comprehensive reports, ActivTrak empowers organizations to optimize their operations, promote better time management, and foster a more productive work environment. 

Cons

ActivTrak doesn’t log keystrokes and may not be ideal for remote data entry employees.

Pricing

Free trial. Paid plans start at $10 per user/month.

Works best for

ActivTrak offers a more holistic approach to employee monitoring. Perfect for tech companies and startups.


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3. Basecamp

Basecamp homepage

Features

Basecamp offers a comprehensive project management and collaboration platform designed to streamline communication and enhance team productivity. Basecamp’s user-friendly interface provides a centralized hub for organizing projects, enabling efficient task management through to-do lists and scheduling tools. 

While not a specific employee monitoring tool, Basecamp features chat boards, task management, instant messaging, and time tracking. It also provides different access levels, easy mobile and desktop app integration, and plenty of file storage. 

We’ve included it here because it can provide easy check-ins for your team without the hands-on employee monitoring.

Cons

Basecamp itself was not designed for employee monitoring but for project collaboration. However, it easily connects with software such as Hubstaff, Calamari, TimeDoctor, EverHour, and Harvest.

Pricing

Free trial, paid plans start at $15 per user/month. 

Works best for

If Teramind is on the more intense side of employee monitoring, Basecamp is on the other end. Its fun feel and lack of Big Brother-ness make it a good fit for those who need minimal employee monitoring. Fast-moving industries such as PR and media would enjoy this one.

4. StaffCop

StaffCop homepage

Features

As the name suggests, if you’re looking for software like Teramind, then StaffCop is probably it. With a full range of monitoring that extends to audio, video recording, keystroke logging, keyword tracking, remote desktop control, message interceptors, social media monitoring, shadow copying for attached files, and monitoring of encrypted network traffic, this software doesn’t mess about.

Cons

There is no cloud-based admin interface, so local installation may be challenging for large organizations with remote employees. The interface looks dated, as well.

Pricing

Paid plans start around $35 for 3 months and up to 25 users.

Best for

StaffCop would work for companies with high compliance levels, data protection, and privacy. Namely the finance and legal sectors.

5. Veriato

Veriato homepage

Features

Veriato provides a more modern approach to employee monitoring with video playback of screen activity. That makes for ideal “proof” should employers need to use it later. As a Teramind alternative, it stacks up well with customized alerts and reports, file and keyword tracking, anomaly detection, automated behavior grouping, and incident response.

Cons

No cloud-based option and a pricey outlay for small businesses or startups.

Pricing

Paid plans start at $25 per user/month.

Works best for

Veriato is used by several high-profile companies to detect and monitor “High Risk” employees. Ideal for large corporate offices, especially those with a high staffing turnover that may be prone to lawsuits.

6. Insightful

Insightful home page

Features

Insightful provides time tracking, productivity analysis, and automatic screenshots. It also includes project tracking, internet usage monitoring, and customizable reports. The real-time insights empower managers to optimize workflows.

Cons

The automatic screenshot feature might be perceived as invasive by some employees, raising privacy concerns. Pricing can be relatively higher compared to some competitors.

Pricing

Paid plans start at $8 per user/month. 

Works best for

Insightful is well-suited for businesses seeking robust time tracking and project management features emphasizing real-time monitoring.

7. DeskTime

DeskTime homepage

Features

DeskTime offers time tracking, application monitoring, and URL tracking. It provides detailed productivity reports and project-tracking features. The “Away Time” feature helps differentiate between active work and breaks.

Cons

While DeskTime is effective for time tracking, it may lack some of the key features found in more specialized monitoring tools. The interface might require a learning curve for new users.

Pricing

Pricing starts at $7 per user/month. The “Projects” add-on comes with an additional cost.

Works best for

DeskTime suits businesses looking for a straightforward time tracking solution with additional productivity insights, particularly those focused on project management.

8. Time Doctor

Time Doctor homepage

Features

Time Doctor combines time tracking, website and application monitoring, and productivity analytics. It offers features like screenshot capture, distraction alerts, and integrations with popular project management tools. The platform is designed to enhance time management and employee productivity.

Cons

Some users may find the screenshot capture feature intrusive, and the pricing structure can be relatively higher for small teams.

Pricing

Time Doctor’s pricing starts at $7 per user per month when billed annually, with additional costs for advanced features like client login access and payroll.

Works best for

Time Doctor is well-suited for businesses looking for a comprehensive time tracking and productivity solution emphasizing minimizing distractions and improving task focus.

What is Teramind, and why should you consider alternatives?

First, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the performance of Teramind’s employee tracking software. The solution provides an intuitive dashboard from which admins can monitor employee activity, assess remote employees’ productivity, and manage threat levels. Additionally, at $125 per month for up to five users, the pricing is budget-friendly, even for small businesses.

Teramind takes the idea of workforce management further than many other tools. Take, for example, the silent mode functionality. This allows companies to filter, track, and observe employee behavior without them knowing it. It allows for pop-up employee warnings, remote locking of employee workstations, keystroke logging, and even a stealth-to-revealed mode.

Brian Kropp

Of course, you could argue that a responsible admin will not abuse the power of Teramind. Indeed, Google’s old code of conduct, “Don’t be evil,” may apply in this case. Yet employees are growing increasingly uneasy over excessive and often abused monitoring levels.

The latest on employee monitoring software

With nearly 50% of American workers now spending at least some time working remotely, a figure that rises each year, we understand why employee monitoring software has grown in popularity.

Nearly 80% of major companies now monitor employees’ email, internet, or phone use. The figure represents a sharp rise from 1997 when only 35% of companies utilized employee tracking software. And there are excellent reasons to do so. A company with 1,000 internet users could lose upwards of $35 million annually from just an hour of daily web surfing by employees.

Additionally, 21% – 31% of employees admitted to emailing company confidential information to recipients outside the company.

Why do we need employee monitoring?

As a business owner, I fully understand the need to monitor certain activities. However, my reasons predominantly concern protecting company data and confidentiality instead of internet surfing, time-wasting, or attending non-work activities during work hours.

That said, companies will have their reasons for wanting to monitor their employees. Here are a few of the most common concerns:

  • Help freelancers and independent contractors track and document their hours.
  • Ensure compliance with regional regulatory boards, particularly in the finance sector, and prevent data leaks.
  • Protect the company’s data from being transferred by a memory stick, cloud, or email sharing.
  • Track the time spent on collaborative projects to generate accurate billing.
  • Record the time spent on non-work activities such as social media and internet browsing to increase performance and productivity.
  • Assess each remote employee’s performance for future pay reviews, promotions, or disciplinaries.
  • Track customer interactions.
  • To apply the same workforce rules across the board to internal and external employees.
  • Monitor the time an employee spends away from their computer and computer usage.

So, what’s the problem?

I know from experience that excessive or unnecessary monitoring in already stressful or toxic working environments can potentially negatively impact an employee’s physical and mental well-being.

50% of monitored employees report stress and anxiety

For example, flight reservationists are permitted 12 minutes for bathroom breaks during a 7.5-hour shift at United Airlines. Anything over that is grounds for a disciplinary warning. Similarly, 9to5 reported on the experience of a telephone service worker who suffered a nervous breakdown which she blamed on “bathroom break harassment”. Is that a correct use of employee monitoring? Absolutely not.

The wrong kind of employee monitoring

According to the Worklife Report, the wrong monitoring type can adversely influence working conditions. The unintended consequences of invasive monitoring can lead to stress, a faster-paced work environment, routinized work activities, and a lack of control over tasks.

The verdict

Many Teramind alternatives exist, such as Vericlock, Time Doctor, Interguard, and Work Examiner. But my favorites are Basecamp and Hubstaff.

I prefer employee monitoring to be collaborative and friendly instead of Big Brother-y and scary, so these two hit the mark while offering easily integrated apps for modern-day team members.

Heavy-duty financial, governmental, or legal organizations may need to consider Teramind or Teramind alternatives to comply with their regulators and protect highly confidential transactions, data, and processes.

Companies needing to do so should still consider employee happiness, which must factor heavily into monitoring. Avoid excessive monitoring of activities outside of work or while the timer isn’t running (like bathroom breaks), social media, and telephone conversations, which can cause undue stress and prove counterproductive in the long run.

Does your organization use employee monitoring? Let us know your thoughts.

Category: Time Tracking