Workers say surveillance makes them less productive — if they know about it

Workers say surveillance makes them less productive — if they know about it

July 28, 2023

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Dive Brief:

  • Employees remain suspicious of employer monitoring — if they know it exists, at all. Just over 40% of U.S. professionals surveyed by Glassdoor said their employer monitoring their work devices makes them feel less productive, according to data released July 25.
  • However, 36% said they don’t know if they’re being monitored in the first place.
  • Certain industries vary in how they feel about such surveillance. Finance and technology professionals were most likely to say it harms productivity, while accounting professionals were least likely to say it negatively impacts their work.

Dive Insight:

In the wake of the pandemic as remote work became commonplace, some employers turned to remote monitoring tools to assuage concerns about employee productivity. But various studies and surveys indicate that such monitoring could be counterproductive.

15Five survey results released earlier this year, for example, showed that one-third of managers surveyed said monitoring had no impact on productivity, while one-quarter said it drove workers to find new jobs. A fifth said that it led employees to actively sabotage their organizations.

15Five also highlighted a disconnection between what managers thought of the technology and how employees felt about it. More than two-thirds of managers said they thought productivity tracking software improved performance, while 72% of employees said the software either diminished or had no impact on performance.

Other studies have seen similar results; more than 80% of IT managers told digital workplace vendor 1E that they had seen negative results after their organizations adopted such tools.

Notably, advocates have pushed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create a workplace standard for electronic surveillance as part of the agency’s mission of maintaining worker safety against hazards to physical and mental health. The White House, too, said earlier this year it plans to examine the effect of such tools on workers.

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