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Companies turning to surveillance software as more employees work from home

Posted at 4:39 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 13:15:04-04

The sudden boom in working from home is leading more employers to consider surveillance for remote workers. NPR reports demand for tracking software has tripled.

This kind of software can be used to monitor company phones and computers, keeping records of mouse movements, keystrokes and webpages. Software can even track team members using GPS.

Measured productivity and time logged can directly translate into employee pay.

“It feels, initially on the surface, pretty intrusive from an employee perspective, let's face it. If you hired me, why are you spying on me?” said Julie Schweber, Senior Knowledge Adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management.

Schweber says it's very likely employers will get pushback from workers who feel they aren't trusted to do their job.

It could come down to transparency and communication about why the company wants to do this.

Among the benefits are an objective measure of job performance and extra security in the face of IT threats.

Schweber points out most employers have already been using some level of tracking for email and browser history.

“And in your employee handbooks, it's very common to say don't expect any privacy,” said Schweber. “Any personal stuff that you're using, it may be discovered. It may come out for a variety of reasons so keeping your personal stuff personal is always a good practice, from an employee perspective.”

Schweber says it's likely this software will continue growing in popularity, especially for companies that didn't have a telework culture before the pandemic.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.