Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have been asked to see if a user is being productive. Windows 7 doesnt log much in the way of computer usage, but I was thinking it would be possible to see how long the computer is in a locked (security) state. I did find some event IDs for locking and unlocking in the log and after doing some research I saw that you can match a session ID to each lock and unlock entry in the log, but that would take a lot of time to sift through.

Is there a better method of seeing a user's computer usage? Or is sifting through the log the only way?

update: I think I should add to fact management strongly believes they the employee is not being productive and just want some evidence to prove the fact. And asked me to see how often they are working at their computer.

share|improve this question
Not a dupe of either of those, as it is not my activity and want to see what is going after the fact. – Keltari Mar 2 '13 at 19:31
Then your question may be better suited for, as it's targeted as professional sysadmins. I'll put in a flag about migrating it. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 2 '13 at 20:24
@Keltari if you'd like the question moved to either Server Fault or The Workplace please flag it and we can migrate it for you, although on Server Fault it'd probably be a duplicate of this (which might solve your problems). I would suggest considering it not just from the perspective of "how do I monitor when somebody is doing something on the computer", but also from the perspective of "how can I measure productivity", which is really a different question altogether. – nhinkle Mar 3 '13 at 5:49
The way you evaluate an employee's work performance is to evaluate their work, not their ability to look busy. If they are being productive, it should manifest in the quality and quantity of their work. – Robert Harvey Mar 3 '13 at 6:41

I would not recommend using time a workstation is locked as an indicator of productivity, I personally lock my computer instinctively even if I just get up to stretch or use the bathroom, sometimes if I just want to think hard. Also, just because a computer is not locked or on screen saver doesn't mean the user is doing anything productive. You would be better off monitoring output of a measurable metric based on their job, as Ryan suggested. If you don't have metrics and goals which can be measured or desired output, then it is managements fault for not setting measurable output expectations or timelines. For example, an IT support person may be expected to close X priority 1 tickets per week or to have an average triage time of 5 minutes. A clerk in accounting may be expected to process X forms per day. I can think of few scenarios where time of PC locked would be a good metric for productivity, since by having a screen up doesn't directly relate to work output.

If you know the employee is not productive, you may want to eliminate distractions such as games or fun websites. If not required, block Internet access all together. You could potentially monitor web activity, but again, if they are just efficient and have downtime, than you need to think about what problem you are addressing.

There are all sorts of more advanced things you could dream up such as an app which monitor what application has focus and count the time of focus per application, but that might not be addressing the root problem either.

share|improve this answer
+1 People adapt to their situations. If they're rewarded for looking busy or some abstract measurement, that's what they'll do. If they're rewarded for getting their work done (especially regardless of what they do when they're no productive) then that's what they'll do. If the employee values the entertainment of distractions over the benefits of employment, there's no software that will change the fact that; given their choice they will screw off, and the employer should evaluate the profitability of keeping such an employee. This might sound simplistic, but I eat my own dog food. – Chris S Mar 4 '13 at 13:36

What is the user supposed to be doing? I would think it would be more productive to go after the programs they are to be using. For example, how many order entries have their username on it. Look into the applications they should be using for work. This will show you a better result.

share|improve this answer
Agreed. Else 'unlock, play flash games, browse forums etc' will also get logged as productive hours. – Hennes Mar 2 '13 at 17:24
This is a new job for me, so I dont know who the user is, or what they are supposed to be doing. I dont even know if they are in the same physical building as me. Your idea as good though, if they are using an application that logs times and username/IP that could work. Still, I think if I can see if the computer is in a locked state for several hours a day, that is a telling sign. – Keltari Mar 2 '13 at 17:25
Can you ask their supervisor/manager? Do you know their title (accountant, shipping clerk, assistant)? Do you know what core applications your company uses (SAP, Quickbooks, Salesforce). These questions and answers will point you in the right direction. – Ryan E Mar 2 '13 at 17:29
I will have to get more info from my supervisor to see what they are doing for the company. – Keltari Mar 2 '13 at 17:30

Measuring productivity is not really an IT function, the OS and apps aren't designed to do this, and how do you even define productivity?
However, you've been given this task and you want to be helpful: I'd look at web browsing and email; those are generally easily trackable and are common ways of being unproductive.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by Community Aug 15 '14 at 14:31

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .