Companies are using software to monitor their employees more and more. With many years of employing all levels of employees and working for companies and watching how they dealt with their employees I have formed an ambivalent posture regarding a ‘big brother’ mentality. Admittedly, I really don’t have one view because I can see the pros and cons of both sides.

Let’s consider a software that recently came across my desktop: SpectorSoft’s SPECTOR 360 which is an “Employee Monitoring, Surveillance and Investigation Software.” Sounds ominous doesn’t it? How would you like to be a new employee being told, “Oh, by the way, our SPECTOR 360 is going to monitor your every move on your computer, etc.?”

This particular software is the company’s flagship solution for monitoring employees company-wide — whether they are in the office, traveling or working remotely. Business Week and PC Magazine gives the software top marks.

The software records your employees’ websites visited, emails sent and received, chats and instant messages among document tracking and all sorts of surveillance recording that reminds you of the FBI and CIA. This information allows a company to form a right-sized impression of its employees using the 50 built-in reports that tells them pretty much everything.

On the one hand, I believe an employee should be productive and stick to company business on company time. On the other hand, I believe employees need to trust their employers and employers need to trust their employees. This trust factor goes to the heart of building brand trust, one of the foundations of a successful brand program. If this system of trust breaks down then employees who feel untrusted will likely convey that feeling to customers in small ways such as irritancy, impatience or disinterest. These bi-products can damage any brand’s image.

With all this said, SpectorSoft Internet monitoring solutions have become so popular with employers that more than 50,000 companies now use their software. I understand Internet abuse should be stopped and think that’s a good thing. It’s the other aspects I’m unsure about. What do you think?