Similarly, RescueTime users can pause the application during lunch and delete certain activities. They can also override an automated ranking. If a Web site is useful for one person's job, but recreational for most, the user can apply his own designation. Corporate clients can apply designations across groups of end users. For instance, LinkedIn might be designated productive for a group of marketing personnel while deemed distracting for a group of engineers.
Neither program wants to be seen as a sneaky spying tool. "We would absolutely never want to have a stealth mode," Redmond says. "RWorks is very overt about what it's doing. It shows people exactly what statistics it sees. We make it very, very obvious."
At thepurplepatch, users see the benefits of the monitoring software, says Donlon - who adds that RWorks has shown the remote team to be significantly more productive than expected.
"I thought [employees] might be reluctant to use it, but when they realized it was a great tool for helping them to become more efficient and productive, they bought into it," Donlon says. "It didn't take long for them to realize that it wasn't designed so that it's watching everything they do and they can decide to take a break anytime, so they have no problems."
RescueTime, too, emphasizes its openness.
"We don't like being compared to Big Brother, that is absolutely not what RescueTime is trying to be," Hruska says. There was a time when RescueTime could be installed without employees' knowledge, but that capability has since been disabled.
"We did bend under pressure from some of our larger corporate clients and allowed them to do what we call the 'stealth install,'" Hruska says. "We did that for a very short time and found that it wasn't working for us."
There are plenty of other products that monitor employees' activities surreptitiously, capturing keystrokes and tracking activities such as application use, document downloads and website visits.
"I understand the need for enterprises to watch and monitor that and protect their intellectual property and data. But that's not what we are," Hruska says.
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