Remote working is becoming a preferred way of working for many job professionals around the globe. It allows them to work from anywhere and stay away from the unconsented surveillance of their bosses during working hours. But not anymore. Reportedly, now companies are keeping an eye on their remote workers and even firing them if they are caught slacking off.
A recent report by Business Insider revealed that many companies across the globe are now using software to surveil their employees and keep track of their work during office hours. For instance, an Australian woman was fired from her consultant role after her employer used keystroke monitoring software to find that she had low keystroke activity on her laptop between October and December. Her manager informed her that her role required over 500 keystrokes per hour, but she was averaging less than 100, and hence her contract was taken.
Here, however, the main concern of employers is not remote working. According to them, if employees are working from home and producing results, then remote working is in one way good for companies. It saves on resources and keeps employees productive given the flexibility around the work. However, many employees are slacking off from work and using loopholes to avoid work. For this reason, employers are now tracking employees with software that checks their work, keystrokes, and even watches them through webcams.
A platform X (formerly known as Twitter) user named Michael Patron in his tweet in July announced that he had fired two employees who had been using mouse-moving technology to simulate work. He shared “They were remote and clocking in and using software to mimic work but not actually working – prob hundreds of hours of this. I liked these people and they were well liked within the company.”
To reveal how he caught the employees, he shared that he used Time Doctor, a SaaS employee monitoring tool. He said that he screen-recorded the employees and checked the logs. However, he clarified that the tracking was not done for each employee. He said that the tracking was only done when he found one employee who was never replying to Slack messages and missing deadlines. He also noticed that the employee had 4+ hour blocks of no typing and was just switching tabs with auto software. “I mean, TD is just a safety measure to us – we don’t check it unless we see an issue – it did take me 2 months to notice it,” he tweeted.
Time Doctor is a software that provides real-time dashboards and progress reports to help businesses evaluate their employees’ productivity levels. It tracks time in and out, breaks, and web and app usage. “We help companies get peace of mind with productivity analytics,”said Carlo Borja, Time Doctor’s content marketing manager to Business Insider.
Employee monitoring is becoming increasingly common, with many companies tracking how active their employees are on their computers, how many mouse clicks they make, or even using webcam photos to ensure that they are at their desks.
The report highlights that despite the increasing shift to hybrid work arrangements, the demand for employee monitoring software has remained strong. According to Time Doctor CEO, Jaime Borja, over 298,000 employees worldwide are currently being tracked using the company’s software. The company’s largest customer bases are in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
At Tesla’s New York plant, for example, workers told Bloomberg that the company tracks how active they are on their computers. As a result, some workers have avoided taking bathroom breaks, fearing that they will be penalized for being inactive.
Other companies also use similar tactics to monitor their employees. For example, some companies track mouse clicks or use webcam photos to ensure that workers are at their computers. A recent report by The New York Times found that eight of the 10 largest US private companies track their employees’ productivity.
This trend is raising concerns about employee privacy and surveillance. Some critics argue that these practices are invasive and can lead to stress and anxiety among workers. However on contrary, others argue that employee monitoring can be a valuable tool for managers, as it can help them to identify and address productivity issues.