As things are now slowly returning to normal in our post-pandemic lives, there are certain things that just won’t ever be the same. One of those is the concept of working from home (WFH). Although most companies have started to welcome their employees back into offices, many business have adopted a hybrid office-home model. Polestar is no different. We have also adopted a hybrid model, shifting in days we work in the office and at home.
But as WFH becomes the new norm, employers are now implementing staff monitoring software to track their employees’ productivity that are making people questions privacy rights and ethical concerns. The demand for these have risen since the pandemic, showing that employers are finding this software useful.
Many specialist companies offer “spyware” with an even broader scope. Even widely used software such as Microsoft’s Office 365 contains “productivity tools” that are now coming under fresh scrutiny.
Monitoring techniques can include recording keystrokes, GPS tracking, using laptop cameras and microphones, checking the volume and content of emails sent, and scrutiny of the nature of websites viewed.
A recent poll conducted among 375 large global employers suggested that more than four-fifths planned to switch from monitoring hours staff worked to measuring their output. It represents a shift away from the simplistic factory-era “clock-in, clock-out” surveillance of physical presence for a fixed period per day.
Yet that shift to focusing on output instead of hours worked raises the question of how productivity is measured. A third of respondents to the survey expected that surveillance measures could trigger protests from employees.
Regulators are taking notice. The Information Commissioner’s Office, which oversees data protection in the UK in August opened a public consultation on data and employment practices. Drawing on the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) — itself under review in the UK post-Brexit — it says employers should respect privacy, be clear about the purpose and benefits of monitoring, and make employees aware of the nature, extent and reasons.
If you own a business, how have you adapted your business model post-covid? And what are your thoughts on integrating monitor software? We’d love to hear your thoughts!