Big Brother seems to be gaining momentum in the business world. George Orwell’s fictional character 1984, whose name is synonymous with surveillance, is growing in popularity with many companies who believe it is necessary to monitor their teleworkers.
The Washington post reported last Friday that “market research firm Gartner says companies have used more monitoring tools during the coronavirus pandemic to keep tabs on employees and monitor work productivity. The number of large employers using tools to track their workers has doubled since the start of the pandemic to 60%. This number is expected to reach 70% over the next three years, âsaid Brian Kropp, director of human resources research at Gartner.
“And the software should become again more sophisticated, telling employers how to turn the data they collect into actionable metrics to drive the business forward. Soon he could be doing things like telling managers how employees work together through Zoom, understanding who the main contributors are, and how specific patterns can lead to specific results.
Last May, Forbes’ Associate Editor-in-Chief Kristin Stoller said: âNew study released by research firm Gartner shows employees nearly twice as likely to claim to be working when their employers use tracking systems to monitor their production. . Gartner surveyed more than 2,400 professionals in January 2021.
Accuracy notwithstanding, some business executives are challenging the control of employee work.
âOur role as managers is to create an environment where people can do their best. It’s really hard to do your best if you feel like you aren’t trusted, âCarol Cochran, vice president of people and culture, remote career site FlexJobs, told Stoller. “If I feel like someone doesn’t trust me enough to feel like they’re doing my job unattended through software, how can I trust them?” How can I build this physical security? “
Send the wrong message
Cook Calloway, the president of Illuminate Labs, has decided not to monitor the productivity of his employees. He said: âThe use of tracking software creates a tone of mistrust, which fuels the employer / employee relationship from the start. When I was a remote employee, I would have hated such a thing, and I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated.
âProductivity can be verified by the output of labor; these monitoring software tools are primarily useful for tracking hours worked, which don’t really matter in terms of productivity. If an employee has a task, I don’t care if they finish it in an hour or ten as long as it’s done, âCook said.
âI think employers who use tracking software are likely to experience a higher churn rate because they create a hostile work environment,â he predicted.
Do more harm than good
Malta Scholz, CEO and Co-Founder of Airfocus said, âI experimented a bit with worker monitoring software and realized that it was doing more harm than good. You get information about people’s online activity and productivity rate, but the results can be misleading.
âMost software is automated, which means you can’t really measure the work of people in more creative or more human roles. They don’t click their mouse or type as much on the keyboard.
âFrom an employee perspective, job monitoring software can create a lot of pressure, forcing people to be extremely careful about their online activity. Some may even click randomly on the keyboard to increase their productivity, jeopardizing their main job. Somehow, these employee monitoring tools become the primary focus instead of being an additional aid in understanding people’s performance.
Old World Thought
Lars hyland, Director of Learning at Totara Learning, observed that âmonitoring employees is an old world thought, it is not [a good fit]â¦ In an uncertain future and requiring flexible and adaptable people to respond to unexpected changes. It takes trust.
âThe alternative is to focus on what really motivates people in the workplace. It is the opportunity to improve and master their skills, to have a clear sense of the common goal with the company that corresponds to their personal values, and to have a work environment that offers autonomy , space and time to do their job well – an emphasis on effectiveness rather than efficiency, âhe said.
Cost of a business
Sarah hawley, CEO and founder of Growmotely and author of Conscious leadership, is against the use of surveillance technology for employees. She said, âIt’s a surefire way to create an environment in which the team won’t feel trustworthy or empowered, resulting in a lack of engagement, poor culture, and high turnover (all things which ultimately cost a business).
“Create an environment where clear results are defined, where employees understand their roles and what is expected of them, then treat them like adults and make room for them to work in the way that works best for them.” â¦ Will lead to the reverse. Committed team members who feel confident, empowered and valued, a positive culture and a low turnover rate. A win-win for all, âconcluded Hawley.
More ubiquitous … and sophisticated
In addition to becoming more ubiquitous, corporate Big Brother is more sophisticated. According to PCMag.com:
- On Slack, the monitoring software can see private messages, private channels, and of course a full history of anything users have ever Slacked to anyone on corporate accounts.
- For Google Workspace users, emails (even drafts) are visible along with anything uploaded or created in a Workspace app.
- The same is true for Microsoft Teams, except that even calls made using Teams or its Microsoft 365 Business Voice extension are fair play, as is the location of employees when they sign in to Teams.
PCMag.com noted that âSome apps can take regular or on-demand screenshots of what’s on your computer, while others can take a quick photo of you using your webcam.