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The Office Software released to combat cyberslacking

Pandora : 08 January, 2010  (New Product)
Pandora has created a software tool for businesses to monitor network and web activity to highlight and report employee activities in an effort to kerb the growing problem of IT related poor productivity in the workplace
No one can argue the fact that the Internet has made all of our lives easier. But, increasingly, it has become a black hole for wasted time. And unfortunately, a lot of that time comes at an employer's expense.

To help businesses cope with both 'cyberslacking' and security issues, Pandora Corp., makers of the well-regarded PC Pandora monitoring software, has introduced The Office Software (theOS), a monitoring software tool that will allow employers to increase employee efficiency and protect company assets.

'Employers have every legal right - and in some cases a duty - to monitor employee Internet activity,' says Pandora Corp. co-founder Jamie Leasure. 'And in this economy, companies can't afford lost productivity. They need to ensure that their employees are efficient and their business is running smoothly.'

Statistically speaking, an overwhelming majority of both employees and employers feel it is ok to surf non-work-related websites while on the job. The difference of opinion comes when surfing turns into an obsessive distraction.

'There is a difference between checking your personal email to reply to your mother and spending 10 minutes of every hour updating your social network profile,' notes Leasure.

On average, workers with an Internet connection spend 21 hours per week online while in the office, a little more than four hours per day. And on average, 26% of that time is spent on personal-interest websites. That amounts to roughly an hour per day, or 22 hours per month.

'For every eight employees you have that spend one hour a day surfing the web for personal interest,' Pandora Corp. co-founder Manuel Coats explains, 'you have the equivalent of a full-time employee showing up to work and doing nothing.'

The Office Software is a multi-functional office productivity tool designed to help managers of small and medium-sized businesses achieve increased productivity and enhanced security. The program allows managers to analyze activities performed by employees and the time spent on different work items. It also affords the ability to track computer usage at a group and/or an individual level, cross-reference activities reported by an employee, and access an employee's desktop in real-time.

'We think managers and business owners need to be able to see how their employees are spending the work day,' says Leasure. 'Being able to obtain reports of daily activity, and then analyze and compare them is priceless in today's corporate environment.'

The Office Software consists of three major components:

* The Covert Activity Monitor (CAM) monitors various aspects of computer usage and stores the data for managerial review. The goal of this component is to ensure integrity of sensitive data, help employees retain focus and help managers discover and address work-ethics related incidents (cyberslacking, harassment, etc.); the activity recorded includes program usage, websites visited, keystrokes logged, web searches, email correspondence, instant messaging, peer-to-peer/file sharing and system interaction. The Covert Monitor also allows a manger to control aspects of employee computer usage, such as allowed/blocked websites, and the ability to mark certain websites as timewasters, so a manager can easily and quickly see how much time is wasted on non-work-related websites.

* The Overt Activity Monitor (OAM) allows employees and managers to track time spent on individual tasks. The goal of this component is to help managers and executives estimate the time, the effort and ultimately the cost of individual projects. Employees are able to log their own daily activity in a spreadsheet-like data form (called the 'Activity Vault'), while managers can review activity logged and confirm, analyze and compare the reporting. This component is especially important in multi-tasking environment where a single employee often works on more than one project during a reporting period.

* Finally, the Real-time Access Device (RAD) allows a manager real-time access to an employee's desktop. Often referred to as 'ghosting,' this component is particularly useful during the initial training phase of entry-level employees, making theOS a desirable and useful tool in the education & training environment.

'The Office Software is intended for small and medium-sized businesses,' explains Coats. 'But it could easily fit the needs of schools, libraries and other public sectors where there is a need to know what third-party users are doing on in-house computers. The Office Software is specifically optimized for multiple-user environments where traditional monitoring software like our own PC Pandora might not be the perfect solution.'

In this age of advanced technology, employees can know that their bosses are keeping an eye on them while at work; the reasons to do so are numerous and compelling, from a simple productivity issue to a serious legal responsibility.

Courts have ruled that companies are responsible for providing a workplace environment devoid of harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment can be a direct result of cyberslacking. According to one study, 70% of all traffic to Internet pornography websites occurs between the hours of 9AM and 5PM - during the typical working day.

'Employees might also send pornographic natured emails to their coworkers,' says Leasure. 'Sometimes those emails can make their way to someone in the office that does not find it funny, but degrading, and the office managers and CEOs must become involved.'

There's also an issue of inter-office romances. While many relationships are accepted when openly noted, it is usually against company rules to carry on a relationship with a co-worker in secret.

Additionally, there is the issue of intellectual property - the lifeblood of a company. According to a 2007 survey by the Enterprise Strategy Group, 32% of companies surveyed reported losing intellectual property within the 12 months prior to the survey. Add that statistic to the fact that 80% of computer-related crime related to businesses is performed by 'insiders,' and it's very easy to see why monitoring employee activity is essential in the interest of security.

'Imagine what could happen if a disgruntled or terminated employee sent your client lists, mailing lists, project timelines or other valuable property to a competitor,' says Coats. 'The Office Software gives you a step up and provides you with the knowledge you need to stop a leak before it gets serious.'

While the Internet has become commonplace in our daily lives, it can indeed have negative effects on companies. From employee productivity to breaches of security, employers are recognizing the necessity of monitoring the Internet usage of their employees as a way to stop the abuse.

'When you use a program like The Office Software,' Leasure concludes, 'you'll be able to increase productivity and protect your company's assets at the same time.'

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