Ever get that eerie feeling that you’re being watched? With Internet monitoring software that allows companies to record employees’ online activities throughout the workday, many workers really are under surveillance. And a recent survey on workplace productivity has given companies several billion dollars worth of reasons to adopt such technology.

More than 44 per cent of American workers surveyed as part of a study by Salary.com and America Online cited Web surfing as the top workplace distraction.

According to the study, employees spend an average of two hours in an eight-hour workday – not counting lunch and break times – squandering company time. Overall, the study says, the American workforce costs companies US $759 billion a year in wasted salaries.

So what do companies deploying surveillance software seek to accomplish? They hope to motivate their staff to spend less time “goofing off” on the Internet, and more time working, according to Doug Fowler, president of surveillance software vendor SpectorSoft, Vero Beach, Fla.

Before any motivating can be done, however, employers need to get a snapshot of how employees are currently spending their time. Surveillance software technology provides that snapshot. It can be installed on the network to capture and record employees’ Internet sessions – e-mail, instant messaging and surfing.

Related links:

Workplace surveillance: productivity booster or morale buster?

E-mail snooping: a smart strategy

Like e-mail, IM needs rules when used at work