Spying by employers to their employees has increased drastically while employees are stuck working at home during COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new survey many companies are planning to permanently shift to work from home model to save cost. With this, approximately seventy-seven percent of workers would continue to work from home once the pandemic is over. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the global embrace of remote by at least 10 years so about tens of millions of people are suddenly remote.
Many of whom are doing this for the first time it’s a new experience for many employers too. For some people there’s a real fear of if you send all of your employees to work from home won’t they just watch Netflix play video games you know not get dressed and you’ll still be paying them. So, some employers are turning to productivity management software or other kinds of surveillance to attract their employees while they work from home.
As a result employee tracking software has seen a significant spike in recent months. The idea of being tracked at work isn’t anything new. They sign off a lot of our rights when they go to work for someone and you know it’s in that big pile of paper that you get on your first day. In many ways surveillance work goes back as far as work does.
Employers have an interest in trying to understand what people are doing when they’re paying for them to be at work. Anyone who works in IT (Information Technology) company can tell you that if you are in fact working in the employers place of business using employer-provided laptops and or other computer equipment and you are transmitting information across employer owned networks you are absolutely being monitored in surveil.
Many of these kind of monitoring processes have already been experimented on what people consider to be low skilled workers in the UK. For example it’s been very common to have biometric scanners for cleaners to know you know how long they’ve been in a room for and you know how quickly things have been done and so on.
There is a lot of these technologies have been introduced already and now they’re starting to kind of flow up the chain of the workforce and be used elsewhere and I think the shifts are working from home means that many of those forms of surveillance which perhaps we have taken for granted while we’re at work and now reaching into our homes.
Many companies that existed pre-pandemic have already developed software to track employees in a variety of ways. There’s proto score hub staff inter guard time dr. Tara mind very clock transparent business and many others proto score alone has seen a 600 percent uptick in interest from prospective customers since COVID 19.
Recently, CNBC’s Eric chemi spoke with its CEO, they take a number of data points beat a CRM tool that they’re currently using a phone system like a LAN edge and email system it could be G suite or Microsoft 365. They aggregate all those data points in a real-time proprietary dashboard that provides them a weighted score. They record and transcribe all your phone calls.
They use AI tools to massage that into a real-time store that you see as does your boss and the CEO and the VP of Sales and the chief revenue officer everyone is seeing the productivity. Every morning you come to your desk you have an email from them, you have your productivity score, your proto scores on the first line of the enum. Your score yesterday for hunter score was 74, your colleagues were 90 they’ve done more and it’s a tool that you could gauge yourself against your peers.
One example of a company that uses proto score is Vonage. I’ve recently in the last year pre-pandemic gone to our virtual sales force because of the capabilities for proto. Wherever any pushback from employees that are like I don’t like that you’re tracking everything. You know guys who go out and get things done or those who use these tools for their advantage and they know we’re watching which is always good.
Another company working in the same space is transparent business which takes a different approach but has seen a 500% spike in users month two months. Since COVID 19 transparent business is different from proto score in that it doesn’t track anything until workers manually clock in but it records those exact times and uploads a stream of desktop screenshots to your manager when you are clocked in you do have the ability to delete those screenshots after the fact or clock out and stop them entirely.
Technology allows for the monitoring and tracking of the work that the user the worker reports as work done basically instead of reporting to an office they report to the cloud and the cloud is the canvas and digitizing the work flow enables us to work better and keep people accountable for the work that they do.
Transparent business says that this type of system is both easier for the worker and ultimately results in them having more privacy it’s a consent when you have a worker going to the office you are monitoring them all the time there are cameras everywhere and this is an invasion to the privacy people are super stressed out they don’t need a micromanager on top of their head so with these dishes can say okay my process is transparent and worked early working so as I’m working.
Managers and employees’ opinion on snooping
When it comes to the moral quandaries around snooping on staff – employers and employees are at loggerheads. Whilst 90% of managers believe it’s completely acceptable to keep an eye on their workers’ emails, 43% of employees think this is an invasion of privacy.
A comprehensive study on snooping from GetApp uncovered a secretive world of C-Suite intrigue – where only 10% of employers think it’s unethical to keep tabs on staff communication. The majority of bosses (72%) use internal tools to monitor their employees – asserting that it’s their job as leaders to keep a close eye on business practices.
Legal Aspects of ‘Spying’
Privacy laws are only getting stricter in an era where GDPR and data encryption are everything. So, where does that leave anxious managers who suspect something is awry?
As per Carl Blake, of law firm Simpson Grierson, there’s limits to a CEO’s power over their people.
“Although an employer may own the computer, facilities and networks that employees use to send emails – both business-related and private – there is no carte blanche right for an employer to covertly monitor and access all such emails,” he explained. “If an employee has consented to the monitoring of their emails, and a suitable contractual provision exists in the employee’s employment agreement or employer policies that allows such monitoring, then such monitoring may occur without a breach of the Privacy Act.”
Ethically, employers should be respecting certain aspects of their employees’ privacy. That being said, leaders do have a right to ensure that productivity is thriving with remote workers – and that time declared ‘working from home’ isn’t code for Netflix and a beer. It’s all about transparency and openness – from both parties. Having said that if employers or managers have personal interest in spying their employees then it one of the biggest disadvantage of IT industry.