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Career Corner: Remote Employee Monitoring

Photo courtesy of Pxfuel

Have you ever felt micromanaged at work? If your boss doesn’t know what you’re doing for every moment of the day, you might as well be nonexistent. You definitely couldn’t be working or making logical, sound decisions on your own, using your years of expertise. Having someone looking over your shoulder always seems to make me more productive. Wouldn’t you agree?

No way! For most people, micromanagement is one of the most demotivating things ever. If you want your employees to only work while you babysit them — and to constantly be on the lookout for another job — then micromanage away. But, if you want people who are thoughtful, hardworking, and will go the extra mile for you, trust your employees.

There’s a new trend that is quite frankly, disturbing. Did you now that some companies are monitoring their employees remotely through their computers? This technology existed before. But, since the pandemic, companies are making the news for their monitoring practices. And, the worst part is, many aren’t telling their employees.

The employee-monitoring software employers are using can take photos of what you’re working on. They can look at which websites you’re visiting. Using your phone, they can even detect where you went during the day. The software reports out on an employee’s usage in small increments, looking at how much time the employee spent typing or using the computer mouse. The New York Times recently reported that employee-monitoring company Hubstaff has seen their sales triple since the pandemic began in March.

Is this really what work is supposed to be about? Whatever happened to salaried employees being expected to “get the job done” whether it took 30 hours or 60 hours? What about employees in creative fields that may find their most productive time in smaller bursts? Many people agree that depending on the type of work you do, it’s not a consistent flow of productivity. We aren’t machines after all.

What about jobs that center around phone calls that are not hooked directly into your work computer? What about those people like me who like to use, dare I say it, paper? What about people who print documents out to review them? Or, those who work their thoughts out in a notepad?

This state of being monitored is really too much. Companies need to get back to the basics with their leadership skills and mentoring. I have rarely met an employee who doesn’t want to pull their own weight at a company that treats them with respect. And, when a company does not respect them or their work, getting great results is next to impossible.

If you’re a company executive who is considering this software, think of other ways to measure productivity and success. Secret software monitoring is not the way to go. We’ve really gotten off the path if we think some artificial productivity score applied equally to all employees is meaningful or motivating.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

June 4, 2020

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Angela Copeland


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