Workplace surveillance is quite a hot topic among employers and its importance is growing while we seek a new normal. Surveillance puts the employees under the vigilant eyes of the employers, managers, heads, or bosses, and according to a report issued by ABC News, about 78% of major US companies monitored their employees’ use of e-mail, telephone, and even the internet.
There has been a constant and gradual shift in the modern employment landscape. Earlier, it was mostly supported by permanent employees who would commute to a central work location. Now, with the change in the paradigm, more and more people are starting to count alternatives like freelancing, outsourcing, telecommunications, etc. Consequently, their work conditions also vary significantly. For example, the work hours have become more flexible, and the work often goes unsupervised due to a lack of space and proximity.
Using a surveillance system in the workplace has been in practice ever since the advent of collaborative work. It is believed to boost the productivity of the employees, which is true to a large extent. It renders help to the employers in gauging the work performance as well as assessing the overall workers’ productivity. As a result, managers are able to reward the workers with better performance and higher productivity and at the same time, plan a line of remedial actions for non-performing and non-productive ones.
Moreover, the surveillance system also ensures that the administration and management are in the know of affairs. A potential threat that many industries face is internal theft. From inventory shrinkage to theft of intellectual properties, the industries are left to deal with the damages. Installation of surveillance systems helps in putting a stop to such asset thefts. With the advancement in technology, many new breeds of monitoring technologies are coming up that enable the surveillance of computer activities of workers. Some of them are keystroke logging, screenshot capturing, movement and mouse click tracking, etc.
Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, many companies and industries are bracing themselves for a better and heightened surveillance in the workplace. The primary reason is to track the symptoms of the virus among the employees and ensure their safety, health, and hygiene conditions. Monitoring will also help in establishing social distancing which is the need of the hour. As people are getting back to normality, contact tracing is seen as the only way to minimize the spread of the virus. Many companies are also resorting to the use of thermal cameras for the purpose of monitoring employees. It reads the temperature and if a fever is detected, the employee is quickly sent home.
There is no doubt that work-related performance data is required for the successful management of a business or firm. And the monitoring is designed in a way as to provide support in overcoming the challenges in the collection of data and information to maintain transparency. But it also, at the same time, raises privacy concerns for the employees. Not everyone likes to be under surveillance all the time. Moreover, employees are more prone to dissatisfaction at work when their privacy is violated.
While collecting data about employees carries risk, it can be reduced through the use of electronic monitoring. The surveillance should be used for a well-defined and explained purpose, and not be indiscriminate. Moreover, stating the reasons for monitoring and transparent communication with the employees will likely boost the performance.
The use of surveillance in the workplace serves myriad benefits to both the business as well as the employees. It provides the required assistance in compliance with the HVNL and workplace laws. It holds an especially relevant position during this hour where the world is combating with the pandemic to ensure the safety and health of the workers. However, it is imperative, at the same time, for the employers to be well-conversant about the need, introduction, and use of the surveillance.
Authored by:- Mr. Abhishek Kumar, Regional Director, Onvu Tech
(The views expressed in this article are by – Mr. Abhishek Kumar, Regional Director, Onvu Tech. Technuter.com doesn’t own any responsibility for it.)