Many companies are tempted to monitor their telecommuters. Is it a bad idea

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The extension of teleworking due to the pandemic, more out of necessity than conviction in many cases, has popularized the use of monitoring software (also known as bossware) to control the work of employees. In United States 60% of companies with part of the remote staff they admit using them, and in Spain there are not a few companies that also use them.

The reason such tools are used seems simple: bosses don’t trust employees to work as hard without their direct supervision in the office. And that lack of trust is what, paradoxically, would make employee monitoring ineffective, according to several studies.

Why? The main reason that leads a company to control the work of its employees through software is to maintain productivity. However, the investigations point out that when professionals know that they are being monitored they feel more pressure and stress, which leads them to be less satisfied with what they do and, consequently, they feel less committed to the company, perform less well and are even more prone to look for a new job.

On the other hand, a Harvard University study It also points out that workers who know that they are being monitored may feel that the company is being unfair to them, since this behavior denotes that they do not trust their professionalism, which can lead them to relax their own moral convictions and tend to more likely to break company rules and, for example, take more breaks or perform tasks more slowly.

Right on. The various studies that exist on this subject explain that the monitoring of employee activity is not completely harmful and can be beneficial for all parties as long as it is used to collect anonymized data that, together, offer a global vision of the performance of the company. the template that allows identifying possible shortcomings that can be improved together.

Positive results have also been seen when company leaders properly communicate the scope of monitoring and manage to convince employees that it is a fair measure. For example, to use it as a sanction and reward system: draw attention when productivity is reduced, but also reward those who perform above expectations.

In fact, an investigation by the consulting firm Gartner reveals that when the company communicates openly and transparently to employees what data will be collected and how it will be used, up to 70% of workers accept the use of monitoring software.

Bossware Growth. After the start of the pandemic, the use of software to monitor employees has grown exponentially. Already in April 2020, the global demand for these tools doubled, and in the following months internet searches on how to monitor employees working from home increased by 1,705%, according to the Harvard Business Review.

If you have children to care for, you telecommute: Spanish justice already requires granting the remote for family conciliation

Also, in these little more than two years the sales of software for remote monitoring of desktops, monitoring of keystrokes, periodic screenshots and video surveillance have skyrocketed. And this control is not only exercised over teleworkers. Amazon, for example, tracks the smartphone data of your delivery drivers to obtain data on its efficiency and identify unsafe driving practices.

Legality of monitoring. The use of this type of tool in Spain is legal as long as a series of requirements are met. To begin with, the Spanish Agency for Data Protection requires that the company demonstrate the need for its use (justification by the type of work that employee does), its suitability (that there are no less intrusive alternatives to achieve the same result) and its proportionality (that the end to be achieved is proportional to the intrusion into privacy that is carried out), as we already explained in Xataka.

In addition, the company must inform the employee about the use of the software, although without obtaining his permission, in the case of a corporate team. You do have to obtain the express and informed authorization of the professional in the event that it is going to be installed on a personal device that is used for work, something that the professional can refuse.

Image | John Schnobrich

The extension of teleworking due to the pandemic, more out of necessity than conviction in many cases, has popularized the…

The extension of teleworking due to the pandemic, more out of necessity than conviction in many cases, has popularized the…

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