Employee monitoring technology is looking more and more like the wave of the future for organizations looking to maximize their workforce’s efficiency and productivity. A growing number of vendors are now offering monitoring systems that use a complex series of badges or sensors, along with advanced data processing, to track employees’ movements in the office, their activity, their communication, and even their emotional state. At Bloomberg, Rebecca Greenfield discusses the implications of this emerging technology for employees’ privacy:
Legally speaking, U.S. businesses are within their rights to go full-on Eye of Sauron. “Employers can do any kind of monitoring they want in the workplace that doesn’t involve the bathroom,” says Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute. And as long as the data is anonymized, as Enlighted’s is, some people don’t mind tracking if it makes work life easier. “It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t feel intrusive,” says Luke Rondel, 31, a design strategist at Gensler. “It’s kind of cozy when you’re working late at night to be in a pod of light.” A majority of U.S. workers the Pew Research Center surveyed last year said they’d tolerate surveillance and data collection in the name of safety.
Research CEB conducted last year also shows that relatively few employees consider it unacceptable for their employers to collect this kind of data. For example:
- 45 percent of employees think its acceptable for their employers to analyze text in their emails, 30 percent have mixed feelings, and 25 percent think its unacceptable.
- 41 percent of employees think its acceptable for their employers to track their movement using sensors in their work badges, while 31 percent have mixed feelings, and only 28 percent think its unacceptable.
- 35 percent of employees even think its acceptable for their employers to analyze transcripts of their phone conversations at work, 28 percent have mixed feelings, and 37 percent think its unacceptable.
CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can read the full report here.