As the permanence or regularity of remote work settles in, more employers are increasing surveillance on remote staff.
- Known by some as bossware, an increasing number of employers are using technology to monitor employees, going so far as to track keystrokes and mouse clicks.
- In a case of “productivity paranoia,” more managers are worried that employees aren’t meeting productivity quotas and resorting to watching workers’ every move.
- The number of employers using some sort of monitoring software has nearly doubled since the pandemic.
Why it’s news
The world is still adapting to the new normal of remote work and employees and employers are butting heads on a few key issues, like the best way to ensure productivity.
In some cases, the monitoring is so detailed that hourly workers feel they are cheated out of pay when stepping away from a desk to use the restroom or get a cup of coffee. If the computer idles for too long, the time will be taken out of their paycheck.
Perhaps one of the greatest issues with increased surveillance is that there is little to no evidence showing that it increases productivity at all. Studies do show, however, that surveillance increases employee stress and increases the likelihood of them calling out of work, Christopher Mims reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Annoyed employees are also likely to find ways around the surveillance, including “mouse jigglers.” These can be computer programs or physical tools used to keep a computer screen from going into sleep mode, tricking surveillance tools into thinking the employee is still working.
Unlike office work, remote employees may not work during the typical nine-to-five, but instead make up time in the evenings or on the weekends.
While 87% of employees said in a Microsoft study that they are more productive when working from home, 85% of managers said they had a hard time determining how productive their employees were.
Studies like one conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research have found that hybrid and remote workers tend to get more work done than in-office employees, partly because they can choose what time of day to get work done.
Columbia Business School assistant professor Melanie Brucks recommended that employers look for more concrete ways to measure employee productivity rather than judging by whether or not they’re in the office.