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These tracking devices fuel distrust among employees

A recent study revealed that closer employee monitoring can fuel distrust and contribute to discrimination in the workplace, despite the fact that office surveillance has long been a management tactic to keep tabs on workers.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) reported that over 60% of UK employees are skeptical of the manner in which employers collect and utilize workforce data, despite the implementation of more stringent privacy regulations.

Workers are concerned that the surveillance data may be abused, as employers may establish unjust targets, micromanage employees, and exert greater control over them. The Orwellian nature of contemporary surveillance has even been questioned by some.

Workers are also becoming increasingly apprehensive about technologies that are employed for surveillance in other regions of the globe. For instance, the state of Illinois in the United States has been the subject of at least 30 class-action lawsuits against companies that are purportedly in violation of the state’s biometric information privacy law.

Contemporary methods of surveillance

Although biometric devices that scan fingerprints have supplanted the conventional punch clock, more advanced technology can monitor metrics that extend beyond time-in and time-out records. Contemporary forms of surveillance encompass:

Productivity tracking software is employed to monitor internet usage, email correspondence, chat transcripts, and time spent away from work. It also records calls, periodically takes screenshots of programs and files, counts keyboard strokes, and surveys a physical location using a camera.

Wearable and portable devices are employed to monitor the user’s location or personal health.

Sentiment analysis and facial recognition: assessing the reactions and sentiments of individuals by analyzing their communication patterns and behavior (e.g., tone, frequency of interaction).

The majority of employees (70%) anticipate that surveillance will become increasingly prevalent in the future. Additionally, a significant majority (79%) believe that companies should be legally obligated to consult with employees prior to the implementation of office monitoring tools.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, stated, “Our right to privacy should not be compromised by the implementation of new technologies, even in the workplace.” “Employers should engage in a dialogue with their employees to decide on workplace monitoring policies, rather than imposing them on them.”