I hate Activity Levels in Screenshot Monitor

We have recently released Activity Levels in Screenshot Monitor – many employers have been requesting it for quite some time. Immediately we have received this very frustrated email. We are publishing it unedited (it was anonymous and it had no reply-to address), because despite the tone, it voices a very real concern that kept us from introducing the Activity Levels into SSM for quite some time. The concern is that productivity will be measured – to a large extent – by how actively user uses the mouse and the keyboard, not by results – and in most of the cases it is just wrong. What do you think?

I really hate the Activity level in SSM! I hate it!

I know you said in the mail, that activity does not reflect your job, because every job is different.But I really hate it.

Now I’m gonna have red and yellow circles all over my report, even when I work hard, why? Because now I can’t pick my nose nor answer an instant message from my phone because I’ll lose 60 seconds and they will reflect on my report.

My boss has told me twice that I’ve done a great job, he trusts me, he knows I’m working, but now I’ll have that sh** measuring how much do I move the fu***** mouse?


Do you know that some people like me try to work 8 hours daily? If I pick my nose and take a look at my phone, I’ll lose 60 seconds and my activity will fall.

Do you know it’s a very different kind of job that being in an office?


Because in an office if I go to the bathroom when I come back the clock has kept running, and I’m closer to get out of the office.

In this kind of job, if I go to the bathroom the clock stops. I have no one who to talk with, I can’t read news while I’m working, I don’t check my personal mail, I don’t either chat with friends, I’m just alone with my computer, 8 hours a day, and now I can’t just relax, clean my eyes and stretch because I can lose 60 seconds of activity.

Being in front of my computer more than 6 hours a day it’s now harder to reach, because now I’ll frenetically click and write to not lose activity. 6 hours daily with screenshotmonitor takes a lot longer than 6 hours because if I just want to get up and talk to my sister about a book the clock stops.

Now, if I pick my nose for 20 seconds it will be reflected in that damned circle? Now I can’t scracth my ass because I’ll lose percentage in my activity?

So I’ll get red and yellow articles all over my report, even when I do an excellent job.

All over the world red means bad, wrong. How could you try to measure activity every 10 seconds, are you out of your mind? Do you stare at the monitor and click again and again 6 hours straight? Do you?

Now, from now on, I’ll work just 6 hours a day, and lower productivity for my boss, because there’s no way in this world that I’d feel comfortable with red or yellow circles, now he’ll get less and me too.

If you think it is wrong, tell me how much activity have you lost while reading this mail.

Can you imagine working 40 hours a week nonstop because you don’t feel comfortable with red circles measuring if you’re burning your boss’ money? Do you work like that?

I hate those mother fuc*** circles and I know more people will hate it too, now I fell I have to write like crazy so I won’t get those circles incomplete.

Now you’ve made an outsanding worker to be a regular one, MY BOSS WILL THANK YOU A LOT FOR THAT.

9 thoughts on “I hate Activity Levels in Screenshot Monitor

  1. I hated it too at first, but it’s not as bad as it looks, maybe they changed the 10 seconds interval they said first.

  2. Employers that monitor keyboard and mouse activity levels are like the school teacher that fails you for sloppy handwriting, regardless of whether or not your sloppily written ideas are brilliant. The fact is, if your work is great and you get it in on time and for a reasonable amount of money, everyone should be happy.

    Employers who focus on RESULTS will succeed and have a successful business. Employers who micromanage will fail.


    1. You just need to increase your rate per hour to a level where you feel comfortable to stop the clock when you go to the bathroom or if you are going to stand up for 5/10/15 minutes to stretch your muscles and have a little break. I do not think anyone expects us to work 8 hours without a break but at the same time, if you are a freelancer, you should bill for only what you actually worked. You can’t bill your client for going to the bathroom or while you are in a break. That’s what comes with freelancing. If we actually work 6 hours clock time that’s what we should bill.

      Let’s say you think that the fair rate to bill for an hour of your work is 20 USD. You expect to go to spend on 10 minutes of each hour stretching, serving you a cup of coffee or stretching your muscles. Then your rate per hour should be billing 200*1.2. Then when you bill actually the time you have worked during that hour which will be 50 minutes you will be receiving the 20 USD for your hour of work.

      Your client will need to accept the 240 hourly rate but we will know that you are billing only for work you actually did.

      1. Thanks. This tells a lot about your view on human beings in general. If the length of the working hours is longer than the interval between two meals or two visits to the toilet, than the time spent for meals and the time spent on the toilet should be debitable. End of story.

        Watching ‘activity levels’ is simply unacceptable.

  3. First, I’m encouraged by the fact that the developers of SSM not only included the vituperative commentary by the angry SSM-monitored employee (17 Oct 2015), but made a point of drawing attention to it, and on the linked page with the commentaries, acknowledged the possible negative perceptions consequent to the newly implemented feature, and asked for input from users and “usees” (heh) to guide them in development of the software.

    This, and the collegial tone used by the devs, is very encouraging.

    I came across these commentaries only after I decided to upgrade to the full account, and having read the commentaries now only fortifies my sense of having made a good decision in having upgraded.

    I should mention that I’m a freelance ghostwriter, editor, and Web editor/content writer (whew — I need to •write• myself a title to replace all that; or •edit• it aggressively…). I don’t monitor my Associate Editors and writers.

    I log my own activities out of an abiding urge to document for future review the things I’ve worked on and what trends were evident at a particular time (e.g.: screenshots documenting what TV shows, YouTube clips, or other content I was watching in my video player, or streaming media viewed in my browser, without downloading).

    More practically, perhaps, a timestamped log of activities, complete with screenshots, serves as a great troubleshooting tool. For example, I can return to the estimated onset of a system problem and see what the hell it was I might have done to cause it. I can even import the activity logs into data files that I can use to make my own graphs, breakdowns, and analyses using a program I develop myself for the purpose.

    I agree with Francisco, who appears to be punctilious and ethical in his (implied, if not stated) work as a freelancer of some variety.

    And Joel makes a very good point, in a succinct way.

    However, I would suggest to both Joel and to the much less diplomatic anonymous complainant that raising such concerns with one’s employer, and perhaps even suggesting that s/he read the material on this Web site that we’re discussing here, would go a long way toward mitigating any negative consequences caused by an ongoing misinterpretation of the data by the employer.

    [“I’m sorry to have written such a long letter — I lacked the time to write a short one.” — Blaise Pascal]


    Steve White
    Wordsmith Editorial Services

    1. Steve, thank you for the such an eloquent comment – I agree with every word. The resistance to the use of such tools is understandable and I can relate to many of such concerns. (Though not all. If denial stems from desire to be unaccountable – I can not support that.) There are many benefits of using Screenshot Monitor (I use it myself every minute I work), but there is a potential of using it an a way that suppresses employees and actually decreases productivity. While we keep our ground when what’s right is clear (for example refusing to disable the ability for employees to delete their screenshots), most of the options are neither good or bad – it depends on the way they are used.
      So I would like the discussion to be shifted from being angry at the service to identifying misuses and fighting them. Like it is silly to measure creative work based on activity level – so ask management not to track it! It is just one click in settings for the whole company or individual user.

  4. I suggest the developers of SSM to add the following functionality to the program:
    1) when there is an at least 10 seconds period of inactivity, and then some activity appears, it will show the freelancer a small notification popup, which will say: “You were inactive for 10 s / 5 min etc. Click Yes to COUNT this time as a work time. Click No or ignore this message for 30 sec to NOT count this time as a work time. Click “Ask only for periods of inactivity more than (enter) seconds” if your current activity involves many/long periods of inactivity or change this in the settings. Please note, that irrespectively the setting, the screenshots will be taken during these periods of inactivity, and later be reviewed by your manager.”

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