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What surveillance of employees does to morale

While I’m talking people today, I wanted to break this story on its own.   Quoting extensively from ZDNet.

A report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Council (JRC) warns that employee remote monitoring and surveillance tools could be severely damaging to relations unless balanced by putting power in workers’ hands.  

Based on findings from some 400 articles, the JRC report found that workplace surveillance has grown more pervasive through the ‘datafication’ of work, particularly with the expansion of algorithmic platforms used widely in the gig economy by companies like Uber Deliveroo and Amazon.

Remote working during the pandemic has also seen an increase in monitoring technologies, some of which – such as email monitoring, biometrics, wearables, and webcam and screen recording – prompt a “very strong sense of privacy invasiveness” amongst workers.

Work-from-home orders might have led some organizations to implement employee-monitoring tools arbitrarily as a solution to the management challenge it presented.

The researcher notes that technology is not a replacement for proper management techniques: “If you’re a manager in an organization who is trying to scramble to work from home suddenly and you’ve been given technology that tells you what your colleagues are doing at their desks, and take pictures of them, that might be seen as a surrogate for the performance side of it. It’s not.”

Why do we care?

I had spotted (and while I’m linking to it, didn’t cover) a piece about automation driving employee satisfaction.     Instead, this research is about the negative impact of that technology (and that I highlighted in the last piece too).

That expert quote – that’s the insight.  It’s about people management, not management via technology.    There’s the sweet spot.    Play there.