The Rise of Remote Work and Monitoring Tools
As the pandemic made remote work universal, it was the multitude of its benefits that made it stay and become the norm. People could work from anywhere they wanted, and sometimes even anytime they wanted.
But working from anywhere and anytime is only loved by employees mostly. Meanwhile for employers, leaving employees free to manage their own work process was worrisome.
That is why employers had to turn to the help of employee and productivity monitoring tools.
In fact, despite the numerous claims that remote work is productive, employers do not really think so. Research conducted by HBR found how different the perspectives of employers and employees are about remote work.
While most employees prefer remote work unanimously because they believe it makes them more productive, most employers are convinced that it reduces productivity.
That was the beginning of mass usage of employee monitoring tools, especially in remote work.
How Do Employee Monitoring Tools Work?
Most employee monitoring tools work by tracking work hours, taking screenshots of employee’s screens, tracking their app and web usage, and recording their activity level based on the frequency of mouse clicks and keystrokes.
Others go even further by taking video captures of the screen and even using the device camera.
It is not surprising that such intense surveillance was going to cause a wave of turmoil among employees.
After all, monitoring is monitoring, even if it is for work.
However, while employees perceive it as a breach of personal space and private information, employers do not think so.
In fact, it is not entirely against the law to monitor employee activity at work and that’s what entitles employers to the use of such tools. One of the acts allows monitoring as long as the company can show a legitimate purpose for the need for monitoring. The other act allows monitoring but with the consent of the employee, also the company should appreciating employees.
What are the arguments of employers?
The main arguments of a significant part of employers are:
- Security concerns
- Exposure to potential hacking
- Cybersecurity risks
- Chance of low productivity
These are indeed legitimate concerns for a company.
Having employees work from home, using their own devices, and sometimes sharing them with family members can increase the risk of company information breaches.
What are the arguments of employees?
While employees do understand the concerns of employers, they believe monitoring should not cross the line of privacy. At the same time, common law recognizes an individual’s right to privacy. That is why it becomes harder to distinguish the right and wrong.
Can Employee Monitoring Tools Be Ethical After All?
Considering both sides of the coin, it is hard to say whether employee monitoring through the use of digital tools is right or wrong.
But one thing is certain.
Even if a company needs to use employee monitoring tools, there are several regulations that must be followed.
- The employer must respect their employees’ right to privacy
- The employer must inform the employee about the usage of employee monitoring tools and what information they are going to track exactly
- The company should provide clear guidelines regarding the usage of monitoring tools
Despite their intrusive nature, most employee monitoring tools offer freedom to the employer to decide what information to track. An example is the use of blurred screenshots which allows the employer to get an idea of what type of work is in process but also preserves the privacy of the employee by blurring the details.
Even though employee monitoring tools have been around and in use for quite a while, evaluating their effect is not an easy task. In fact, it might be up to the employer to decide how such tools affect productivity. After all, it is the employer that determines the use of employee monitoring tools. But no matter the case, the privacy of employees must be respected, and monitoring their work process should not touch their private information.