Can Your Employer Spy On You Via Microsoft Teams? – 2024

Can your employer spy on you via microsoft teams

Every employee wants to work in an environment where they feel safe. However, using popular tools such as Microsoft Teams, where employers access a lot of data instantly or periodically, may lead you to have concerns about what steps your employer is monitoring you and how much of your data they have access to.

As an employee using Microsoft Teams, you may find yourself asking the following questions: “Can Microsoft Teams be monitored?”, “Can my employer see where I’m working from?”, “Does Teams show if you’re on mobile?”.

In this article, we will talk about the Microsoft Teams employee monitoring features and list the 11 things that your employer can see on Microsoft Teams, and do our best to answer your questions.

The alternative to Microsoft Teams monitoring: Accountability

What often goes unnoticed in the entire discussion of “Can employees be monitored across Teams?” is the true alternative to employee monitoring. Creating a culture of accountability and high performance in your organization trumps having a panopticon regime any day of the week.

The best productivity tool for Microsoft Teams users, by a long shot, is Teamflect. Through key productivity features such as automated goal check-ins, effective task management, and comprehensive meeting agendas, Teamflect truly negates the need for employee monitoring in your organization.

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Why Is Data Safety Important?

Any company has much confidential information: employees’ data, trade secrets, audit results, etc. Unfortunately, such information is desirable to cybercriminals since there is a great demand for it, which means it can be quickly sold on the darknet.

Moreover, confidential data is leaked regularly. As the main reasons, we want to highlight the insufficiently high level of information security and the lack of training for the company’s personnel.  

For a business, a leak of confidential data can have various consequences. For example, it will undermine the confidence of consumers and partners, which in the future will harm the company’s position in the market. In addition, competitors can lead customers away, resulting in lost profits.

Also, confidential data leakage could lead to increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies, which will arrange unscheduled inspections. Finally, the most damaging outcome of this situation is fines, a blow to reputation, revocation of licenses, and partial or complete termination of the company’s activities.  

What Can An Employer See On Microsoft Teams? Teams Tracking Functionalities 

What can your employer track inside microsoft teams?

Is Microsoft Teams tracking your activity while you are using the tool? Yes, of course, but Microsoft is doing this to help companies be compliant and secure. Most Microsoft Teams monitoring is just a part of Microsoft Teams security.

When it comes to what Microsoft Teams tracks, basically everything that you create using Microsoft Teams is visible to your employer. There are many things that Microsoft Teams track about your actions. Although we can not exactly tell you all the ways Microsoft Teams tracks users, we created a very detailed list of what your employer can see on Microsoft Teams security:

  1. All of your one-on-one, group chat messages (including the memes you sent 😊)
  2. All the Teams chats that you deleted
  3. All the actions you take inside of Microsoft Teams such as creating a team, deleting a team, logging in, logging out
  4. All the content you created in Microsoft Teams channels including the tabs that you added
  5. All the apps that you use inside of Microsoft Teams. Your employer can see the name of the applications you use but not the content that you create inside of those applications. In Teamflect‘s example, your employer can see that you logged in to Teamflect, but they can not see the recognitions, feedback, or tasks you created without logging in to Teamflect.
  6. All the Microsoft Teams meetings that you created or joined – subject, time, duration, attendees, etc.
  7. All the Microsoft Teams meetings that you recorded – including the content
  8. All the files that you created inside of Microsoft Teams. Since Microsoft Teams uses OneDrive and Sharepoint, all the files that you create are indexed and searchable by your company administrators.
  9. The brand and model of the headset you use when you join meetings
  10. The number of messages, and meetings that you created
  11. The IP address that you use to login to Microsoft Teams
  12. The device that you use to login into Microsoft Teams
  13. The operating system of the mobile device that you login to Microsoft Teams

To help determine if a person is productive, Microsoft has released a new monitoring tool for data collection for remote workers – Workplace Analytics. It can be found in Microsoft 365 under Workplace Analytics. It allows supervisors to monitor whether their staff is using Microsoft tools effectively and actively.   

The tool collects data on the behavior of each user of their package for 73 indicators. And at the end of each month, it provides managers with an analysis of the quality of their work. Such information, among other things, is collected:  

  • Whether the employee regularly turns on the webcam during online meetings; 
  • How often s/he sends emails (and how many @ symbols they contain);  
  • How often an employee adds comments to shared documents or group chats;  
  • How many days they have used Word, Excel, Teams, Outlook, and Skype in the last month.  

This is only a tiny part of the Microsoft Teams monitoring parameters. At the same time, the product displays graphs according to such metrics as the quality of teamwork, the quality of work at meetings, the quality of communication, the efficiency of overall work on content, etc.  

Can My Employer See Deleted Teams Messages?

The answer is a resounding yes. If by your employer, you mean the admins in your organization, they can absolutely view your deleted Teams chat messages.

When you delete a message in Teams, it is removed from your view and the view of other users in the chat. However, the message might still be stored on Microsoft’s servers, and your organization’s administrators may have access to it through compliance features or tools provided by Microsoft 365.

What Data Can Microsoft Teams Access?  

Microsoft Teams tracks three types of usage data, i.e., Census, Usage, and Error Reporting Data.

Census data is nothing more than standard information about your device, operating system, and use of language. It also generates a specific user ID that is double-protected to avoid unnecessary binding. Census data in the Teams User Activity Report is collected by default and cannot be disabled by the user.  

Microsoft also collects usage data, including the number of messages sent, calls, and appointments joined along with the organization’s name. It also helps track errors so they can be corrected in time. This is called error reporting data.  

Microsoft Teams Online Meetings And Private Chat Monitoring  

Microsoft Teams offers a range of security and privacy settings so you can choose who to invite to a meeting and what information to share with each attendee. For example, you decide which people outside your organization can enter meetings independently and who must wait in the lobby before being admitted.

You can also remove attendees during a meeting, assign “presenters” and “attendees,” and determine which attendees can showcase content. With Guest Access, you can add people outside your organization while preserving control over your data and your team’s activity.

Moderation features let you decide who is allowed to post and share content. Built-in artificial intelligence (AI) monitors private Teams chats to prevent negative behaviors such as bullying, stalking, or tracking your activity.  

All attendees are alerted when the recording of the meeting starts, and those present at the online meeting can read our privacy notice on their own. Recordings are available only to those who are invited to the meeting and those who attended it.

For safer video conferencing, all records are stored in centralized storage protected by encryption, which can be accessed with special permissions.  

Microsoft Teams Tracking/Monitoring Tools

Although for Microsoft Teams privacy, many tools are offered to track employee data, usage of the tool, logs of the tool, and etc. out of the box, there are many other companies developing applications to track Microsoft Teams activities, and logs to make the platform more secure and compliant.

If an employee is using this type of tool, more detailed analyses, and reports can be created for Microsoft activity tracking of employees.

Can Microsoft Teams Calls Be Monitored?

Yes and no. If your employer wants to record your Microsoft Teams meetings, many 3rd-party compliance recording tools can record employee activities / calls in Microsoft Teams. If we are talking about external people trying to spy on you during your Microsoft Teams call, the simple answer is no, but as yet another software solution, no one can guarantee that Microsoft Teams can not be hacked by hackers.

Can my boss see my Teams messages?

Using the Teams application, no. There is no interface for a manager to see the messages of their direct reports. However, a manager can contact the IT team and request your private chat messages if needed for compliance purposes. Microsoft Teams provides all types of tools to IT administrators to be in full control and for Microsoft Teams chat monitoring.

What can I do to hide my data from my employer?

You can’t do anything to hide the data you create in Microsoft Teams from your employer. Microsoft Teams is a business solution provided to you by your employer and they have full control over all the data created on the platform. Microsoft provides many tools like Content search, Audit log, Litigation hold, and many more to ensure that employers have full control and visibility of the data created by their employees. If you don’t want your employer to see the data that you create and prevent Microsoft Teams employee monitoring, use other messaging applications like Telegram, Whatsapp, etc.

Privacy Settings In Microsoft Teams  

You can turn off your read receipts if you want more privacy. You can do this by going to Settings > Privacy and toggling the “Read Receipts” switch.  

You can ask your organization to enable multi-factor authentication on your account and add an extra layer of protection. A solid and unique password and a password manager are required to secure your account.  

You can also set up private channels if you are a member of a specific team; limited access is allowed only to particular team members. In the selected command, go to the channels section and click on the three dots. Next, go to “Add Channel” under “Privacy” and select “Privacy.”  

You may then select the appropriate people to add to the team – up to 1000 people. Only the channel creator can add or remove people from a private channel. Files and messages posted to a private channel are not accessible to anyone outside of it.  

The Case Against Microsoft Teams Monitoring:

What leaders everywhere have to keep in mind is that the question “What can my employer see on Microsoft Teams?” is often followed by the question “Should my employer actually see all of this?”. Not counting obvious security reasons, remote employee monitoring isn’t the best solution to increase productivity.

Instead of focusing heavily on Microsoft Teams monitoring, leaders should focus on making Microsoft Teams a far more hospitable place for their employees. After all, mutual trust is the most effective performance management tool and employee engagement strategy out there.

The better alternative to Microsoft Teams employee monitoring is to simply increase accountability! Implementing effective performance management software can help you do just that! This is where we believe Teamflect can make an incredible difference.

Because the painstakingly obvious fact is, that if employees actually own their tasks, agendas, and goals, then there is no real reason to monitor them. Now that is what you call a culture of empowerment.

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How to Battle Corporate Espionage?  

Injecting a spy into a competing company is a common practice in competitive markets. And as competition intensifies in all markets during economic stagnation, corporate espionage is becoming more common.  

There are two types of corporate spies:

  1. The first are employees of the competing company, who are sent to the target company in advance,  
  1. The second are current employees of the company’s service recruited by competitors. Both opportunities can drain the company for years.  

Steps to take if the suspicions were justified:  

  • Many companies prefer to quietly fire the offender and not make a fuss. But, as a rule, the very fact of disclosure is enough for a person to write a letter of resignation of their own free will.  
  • Take the spy to court. But, again, data from IT systems can back up the evidence base.  
  • Disinform, a competitor through a detected spy. The company’s management and the information security service know that a spy is working in the company. Still, they hide their awareness to throw a harmful insider at the right time.  

Microsoft Teams’ privacy commitments  

By choosing Microsoft Teams, you trust the app to access your most valuable information – your data and corporate content. You should feel safe that Microsoft Teams security, is pretty solid. According to Microsoft, these are the guarantees for your privacy while using the Teams app:  

  • Microsoft Teams never uses data from teams to offer you ads, like Facebook does, for instance.  
  • It doesn’t track the level of involvement of participants in your video conferences in Teams.  
  • Your usage data is completely erased after the cancellation or expiration of your subscription.  

Microsoft Teams has gained popularity with the move to remote work. As a result, employees now need to collaborate while ensuring that sensitive data is completely secure and that Teams user activity report is not misused. 

Further Notes

We truly believe that the need for remote employee monitoring decreases heavily when the organization uses effective employee engagement and performance management software. This is where Teamflect comes in. Teamflect offers its users one of the best performance management, and task-tracking experiences available in Microsoft Teams.

Using performance management system such as Teamflect increases the trust between employee and employer, making employee monitoring essentially redundant.

Written by Emily Helen Arnold

Emily Helen Arnold is a content writer at Teamflect. She is obsessed with organizational behavior studies and loves writing/thinking about how a carefully designed people strategy can transform a company.

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