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Remote work normalised: Exceeded employee surveillance

Remote work doesn't come out as “one of the new things” nourished by the pandemic, but it’s been there for a long time. The pandemic gave a better reason why working remotely can have the same benefits as office hours or even more.

Though social interaction is something we thrive on, remote work doesn’t give the same interaction or social circle. There is always a catch. If that were all, then we’d understand, but monitoring remote workers became a trend.

Time trackers are a pretty usual form of tracking as it is used almost everywhere. Even to gain personal achievements, time trackers can pour benefits. Remote workers are taken one step ahead in terms of surveillance by employers. Several pollings took place in multiple locations, but the one that caught our attention was from respected pollster Opinium. It gave us the result that remote workers under companies or organisations are being monitored quite heavily.

Among 80 per cent result that made it to the final count, 52 per cent of remote workers think camera monitoring should be banned, and the other 28 per cent thinks this monitoring should be heavily monitored. The last 8 per cent of the workers believe employers should be allowed to watch them. Not only that, they think employers should be able to monitor or use employee cameras whenever they choose to.

Surveillance or close observation has legal boundaries. A report shared by the Washington Post on September 24, 2021, mentioned legal ways of monitoring. But some employers have to take it a step ahead and monitor employees at unexpected times. Though it is the result that should count in terms of monitoring, personal whatnots should be excluded.

Chief executive of Connecticut, Elizabeth Harz, said, for some employers, remote work would mean “economic ruin” for his company. Remote tracking software can monitor employee productivity and how long it takes for an employee to respond to emails. Another report shared by the Prospect (UK) showed direct statistics taken from many employees regarding monitory actions. The Prospect report said one in three (32%) remote workers are now being monitored. The finding wasn’t based on a small group of people but included employees supporting various political parties.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is reviewing measures as far as remote monitoring goes. Young workers from age 18 to 34 are prone to more monitoring than their older colleagues. Among them, 48 per cent reported constant monitoring while 20 per cent said they are monitored via cameras directly.

Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary, said, “We are used to the idea of employers checking up on workers, but when people are working in their own homes, this assumes a whole new dimension.” Additionally, “New technology allows employers to have a constant window into their employees’ homes, and the use of the technology is largely unregulated by the government.”

As remote work became mainstream outside freelance work ethic, monitoring came to a different level. It can be good to measure performance, but camera access is quite excessive. Prospect filed notice, and through ICO regulation, the camera monitoring will only be available during conference meetings and calls. Work time camera access can hamper privacy, and it is uncalled for. Explicit surveillance on employee’s personal life can be disruptive, and who can leverage from it?

Several other respected news portals reported on the matter as it’s getting out of hand. If employees cannot be trusted later down the road, they would not fit the company from the start. The disappearance of comforts can be threatening to the work ethic and mindset of an employee. It can backfire as mistrust doesn’t help anyone.


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