Remote work means increased surveillance and less freedom

Employee surveillance software is the new tool to manage the post COVID-19 remote office. There is a strong business case for time tracking software and staff surveillance as more employees opt to work from home.

The rise in home working has seen a growth in workplace surveillance and more companies are relying on the technology to help manage employees without ‘line of sight’.

The need for remote work surveillance

Companies must strike the balance between respecting personal information of staff members and the employers’ right to monitor since the line between work and home is blurred.

Remote and hybrid offices present employees with many freedoms though it is more complex than simply working from a laptop. The pandemic has turned the workplace upside down.

Employers want to know how people are working, when they’re most productive, and how their diary and workload looks in a remote or hybrid environment.

To maintain the trust of the workers, managers need to work with employees and explain the motive for its use and not a finger pointing exercise as it makes smart business sense.

It gives you accuracy, a better understanding of productivity and performance and it is helping companies anticipate changing roles and expectations in the post COVID environment.

I think you have to put a lot of trust in someone that is working remotely because the boss may have no idea what employees are doing all day. Employers can’t install monitoring software without advising employees and getting their written consent.

Employee monitoring in remote workplaces

Remote work creates new expectations

As the office provided assurance that employees were doing their job well, monitoring tools help managers ensure employee efficiencies and performance expectations are met.

Ms Kyne says if the current trend to work from home continues, tracking technology will become the norm and ultimately take the place of a manager’s eyes.

New office means new roles

Information provided from the technology can identify strengths and weaknesses in teams, identify productivity levels, determine new roles, redefine leadership roles and give managers a visibility over their remote workforce so they can offer regular feedback.

Client accountability

When COVID upended workers and forced them to work from home, it also demands greater client accountability. Clients want assurances their needs are being met remotely.

Monitoring technology allows for billable hours, time management and project status to be tracked, justifying contracts and ensuring customer service and sales continue to be delivered.

Clear communications and transparency

Clarifying the new rules ensures that workers understand monitoring scenarios.

A clear workplace surveillance policy, setting out rules for use of email, chat, social platforms, and company property will remind employees of the company’s workplace policies.

Surveillance agreement

Have a clearly defined surveillance policy in place and obtain written employee consent.

Ensure all workers are aware of the monitoring techniques being used and they understand their responsibilities in the remote workplace. Explain the information and material from surveillance is for employment purposes only and will not be sold or used by a third party.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies didn’t believe that remote and hybrid work was a viable concept but the problem was never about getting the work done.

The problem lies in how to keep employees engaged to work in the remote environment and their ability to deliver and be productive outside of the traditional office environment.

Monitoring software will help as managers try and predict what types of activities are associated with higher productivity, effectiveness of teams, what time of day employees are more productive, what kind of breaks might help staff become more productive and engaged.

Just as employees have adjusted to their emails being monitored, search engines being tracked and mandatory drug and alcohol tests, surveillance technology will become the norm to ensure employee efficiencies and performance expectations are met.

Ms Maureen Kyne is the principal of Maureen Kyne & Associates and is a workplace bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination specialist working with C-Suite and senior leadership teams across manufacturing, healthcare and local government sectors.