What are your perspectives on WFH, surveillance and oversight of employees?

Steve Bridger

| 0 Posts

Community Manager

30 Sep, 2020 09:21

Apologies for the clumsy title, but as many of us 'get our feet under the table' and adjust to WFH or blended/hybrid ways of working... I, personally, think this is going to be an evolving area of opportunity - but also potential tension between employers and employees. 

How far should workplace policies, norms and 'culture' transfer into an employees home?

Some of the measures employers are taking would (to me) appear unreasonable - like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. You may have picked up on one of both of these articles in recent days...

'I monitor my staff with software that takes screenshots' - BBC

Shirking from home? Staff feel the heat as bosses ramp up remote surveillance - The Guardian

We've discussed this broad topic before on this Community - for example, this thread from just before lockdown...

When does staff time tracking become 'Big Brother'?

...but also as far back as 2015.

Computer surveillance in the workplace

But where is the 'line'? 

Unsurprisingly, in recent weeks I've seen many more discussions here on topics like WFH set up allowances, provision of equipment for home-workingtraining provision, but also smoking or vaping during work video calls.

In that last one, Peter Cunningham argued the 'duty of care' towards all employees does in some circumstances extend into the 'workplace at home', and might be enforceable. Peter knows his onions. Likewise,  posed a question (I can't find the thread at the moment)... 

Wouldn't it be a good thing if an organisation could accurately predict when say a Call Centre workers stress was rising and they were likely to need a break rather than ranting at a customer by monitoring their blood pressure, pulse or whatever? Or similarly in a factory setting? Monitoring an employees health "may" within appropriate guidance be the logical manifestation of wellness - making it real and practical rather than simply conceptual.

What do you think? I think things are going to get interesting!

ps You may be interested in registering for our free webinar on 6th October...

CIPD Coronavirus webinar series: Home-working long-term

  • The dinosaurs will be trying to re-assert control because they do not trust people and have no understanding of motivation or retention
  • In reply to Peter Stanway:

    I completely agree with Peter - now is the time for managers to really focus on what they want people in their teams to deliver and measure them based on that. Managers know which people in their teams will take advantage if they can and if they haven't done anything to manage that, that is really their issue. Subjecting everyone to restrictions is likely to have a negative impact on employee engagement. employers may feel that doesn't matter at a time when unemployment is increasing, but I am old enough to know that rises and falls and there will come a time, possibly quite soon, where employers are finding it difficult to recruit the people they need.
  • In reply to Teresa:

    A variation on 'He's got a headache. We've all got to take aspirin'
  • I would hate to think my manager didn't trust me to get the work I needed to do done from home. If she introduced "spyware" I think it would have a negative effect on how productive I was and I wouldn't feel at all engaged with the Company. As I work in agri food we were lucky to remain very busy during the start of the pandemic. At the start it was 3 days at home and 2 in the office. She understood that all in her team had childcare responsibilities and home schooling to do, she said she didn't expect us to sit in front of a lap top from 9 -5 but trusted us to work the hours to get the work done.
    As my manager if the work wasn't getting done she would have had complaints from the managers that I work with, the same for the whole of the HR team.
    Yes there are some who thought working from home was just extra holiday and we had a couple of those, but we didn't punish everyone. Those who couldn't or wouldn't work from home were brought back into the office. Thankfully we have a lot of space and could do this safely. Don't punish all staff on the actions of a few.