I'll be watching you

3 Mins

Is your work activity monitored by your employer?

A proliferation of new technology can check keystrokes, mouse clicks, track your physical location and your use of applications or websites. They can track your email sending rate and how long you spend looking at documents too.

With home working taking off in 2020 because of the pandemic, there’s since been a vast increase in demand for surveillance technology. In the UK, an employer survey by YouGov in November 2020 found that 20% of UK businesses were using, or planned to use, employee monitoring software. The practice was more popular in larger companies.

Lorry drivers, factory workers and call-centre workers have had their output monitored for many years. But with new surveillance software installed on work laptops (often called ‘bossware’) it can affect many more industries, and you could find your work being monitored without realising it.

A December 2021 survey of 2,209 UK workers showed 60% believed they had been watched and monitored at their current or most recent job.

But research shows this level of surveillance can hinder creative thinking. It can also lead to distrust, with many workers unsure exactly what data about them is collected.

This technology can’t spot when employee has a fantastic new idea worth pursuing. Or when a chat over coffee leads to a valuable new working relationship. Sometimes, what managers should value in their employees isn’t something you can get from surveillance data.

What do you think of this type of employee surveillance?