Remote Work Boom Prompts Employer Surveillance Surge: Study Finds Ethics vs. Productivity Struggle
As remote work becomes the new norm, employers are searching for ways to keep tabs on their employees’ productivity. But this quest for oversight is giving rise to solutions that may have disastrous consequences for individual privacy.
A study by ExpressVPN and Pollfish surveyed 2,000 employers and 2,000 employees working remotely or in a hybrid capacity to gauge the extent of employer surveillance and its effects on employees. The findings were eye-opening.
While 83% of employers recognized ethical concerns with employee monitoring, 78% still utilized such software. This discrepancy highlights the conflict between employers’ need to ensure productivity and employees’ right to privacy.
Many employees were unaware of the full extent of their employer’s monitoring. One in three did not believe their employer was actively monitoring their online activities, and 15% were unaware that this was even possible. This lack of knowledge puts employees at risk as they may unknowingly participate in activities that could be used against them.
The stress and anxiety caused by employer surveillance were major concerns for employees. The majority (56%) reported feeling stressed and anxious about being watched by their employer, with 41% constantly wondering if they were being monitored and 32% taking fewer breaks because of it. In fact, 48% of employees would be willing to accept a pay cut to avoid surveillance, with one in four willing to take a 25% pay reduction.
Employer surveillance goes beyond monitoring productivity. In some cases, it has been used to inform performance reviews (73%), monitor the potential formation of workers’ unions (46%), and even as evidence in firings (41% of employees admitted their recorded work calls had evidence that could get them fired, while 37% of employers reported using stored recordings for firings).
The channels of communication that are regularly being recorded and stored include websites visited and time spent on various websites (66%), apps used and time spent on apps (53%), real-time screen monitoring (53%), periodic screen capture (33%), active work hours and log times (46%), productive versus unproductive hours logged (31%), chats and messaging logs (30%), monitoring and access to computer files (27%), inbound and outbound emails (23%), and transcribed calls (22%).
Employees’ suspicions about their employer’s surveillance activities align closely with the reality of what is being tracked. Many employees suspect their employer is monitoring websites visited and time spent on various websites (80%), apps used and time spent on apps (65%), real-time screen monitoring (61%), periodic screen capture (45%), active work hours and log times (62%), productive versus unproductive hours logged (48%), chats and messaging logs (47%), monitoring and access to computer files (43%), inbound and outbound emails (38%), and transcribed calls (36%).
The study highlights the need for clear communication and policies around employee monitoring in the remote work environment. Employers must balance their need to ensure productivity with the importance of respecting their employees’ privacy. Without clear guidelines, the use of employee monitoring can lead to a lack of trust and a negative impact on employee mental health.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in