ActivityWatch as Employee Monitoring Software?

Thank you very much for ActivityWatch!

A bit afraid of asking silly questions to you geniuses. Hope you do not mind it!

I am a Workforce Manager of a very small contact center of 18 users - just came to existence last year September. In lieu of COVID, we are hugely affected and in loss since we are not able to transit and come to work; my employer wants the users to Work At Home (WAH). Now the worry is tracking their activities (of course with their consent), also we do not want to keep our data in some random cloud. :frowning:

Your ActivityWatch is lovely, simply love it!

Following the instructions as mentioned here, I run the aw-server app in one of the system and the aw-watcher-window app in few others in the same network.

The aw-watcher-window app says:

Has provided the Ipv4 of the server system in the aw-client config file, don’t know how to connect to that aw-server from client systems! Any help, please?

Warm Regards,

Hi Dave, thanks for the kind words.

Your request is not too uncommon, but before I get into the details of things I just want to say that the way you’re trying to use ActivityWatch is not supported (although it is possible). There are several reasons for this, but the main reason is that to be production-ready it requires a lot of work on both security (necessary when exposing the server on a network) and privacy (required when personal data is stored by a 3rd party, GDPR and such), both of which we don’t have the interest or resources to work on.

If despite this warning you decide to go ahead and try to use ActivityWatch to monitor your coworkers, you should make sure you at least have some sort of secure transport so that you’re not sending unencrypted data across the internet or giving people outside your network access to the server. This can be done with SSH tunneling or with a corporate VPN (not the proxy kind, but the kind that lets you access an intranet from the outside), but if you don’t already have something like a corporate VPN set up this is probably too much of a hassle for you.

Has provided the Ipv4 of the server system in the aw-client config file, don’t know how to connect to that aw-server from client systems!

Is the server reachable on port 5600 from outside your network? If you can’t go to http://serverip:5600 from the outside (you might additionally need to set the cors_origins setting in the aw-server config for your browser to let you load the page) then you need to configure your network/router/firewall to allow that. Exactly how to do that is not something we can help you with.

Since all the above is a bit messy/involved and comes with a lot of risks, there’s an option that I’d recommend considering: ask your coworkers to install ActivityWatch locally and then have them submit exports on regular intervals. That way you can store them in a secure location, and then import them to your own ActivityWatch instance to inspect the activity just as if they were reporting directly to the server.

This is similar to the “Reporting” feature we’ve had in mind to satisfy business-users like you, but it might not be quite what you’re looking for (feedback wanted!):

If you appreciate the help, please consider supporting us financially. We know that businesses use ActivityWatch, but we don’t have much contact with them and none have yet to step up to help the project financially (which makes us less willing to support their use-cases over time).

You can find details on how to support the project at Donate | ActivityWatch - Open-source time tracker

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Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and replying to my babel.

Honestly, I am against the idea of spying others. We all work for fiscal needs and must be dedicated towards it. Everyone comes to work with well intent, placing a spy demotivates! However, can’t question a boss, right?

Anyways, for the time being what we’ll be doing is that connect to office PC remotely from Home to serve the purpose and postpone any monitoring. As there are legal attributes to this too.

Will certainly encourage you on my next paycheck… You please keep doing the martian stuffs that you do :smiley:

Thanks and God bless!

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As is the case with most technology, it can be used for both good and bad. Even though it may seem like a great idea to use ActivityWatch as an employee monitoring software, you should still be careful. Be aware of the risks and how you can avoid them by carefully choosing who has access to your account. Stay in control of what your employees are doing with this software, and you could have a promising tool on hand for security monitoring.