When using employee monitoring as part of a remote workforce management strategy, employers need to strike a balance between the privacy expectations of their remote employees and the business’s need to manage and monitor productivity levels. In this article I will provide key tips for using remote employee monitoring software while respecting the privacy of remote workers.
Employers that want to use software that monitors remote employees as part of their remote workforce management strategy need to be aware of the potential privacy concerns that their employees may have. These are common objections and concerns of employees that are being monitored while working from home.
Employees that are being monitored while working from home are often concerned with how the monitoring data is used. They are likely to be concerned that having their productivity measured by employee computer monitoring software may not provide the full context into how well they are performing.
Employers that use monitoring software for remote employee productivity tracking need to understand that raw internet usage data is not the only indicator of productivity and that automated decision making should not happen solely based on internet monitoring reports. Instead, internet usage monitoring data should be used to identify actively disengaged employees that are misrepresenting their contributions and to provide managers with data that they can use to make informed productivity management decisions.
The use of monitoring software can be considered too invasive for remote workforce management when employers attempt to use computer spy software that tracks employees without their knowledge or when they collect more data than the employees consider necessary.
Employers that use remote spying software to secretly track browsing history are not only likely to be violating data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, they will lose the trust of their employees by hiding the intent behind tracking the computer usage of their employees.
To reduce the invasiveness of employee monitoring, consider the transparency and proportionality of the measures taken.
Employees that are being monitored while working from home may feel that the use of computer monitoring software is a sign that their managers do not trust them to be productive without direct supervision. This feeling of a lack of trust can ruin employee morale and cause even the best employees to begin to feel resentful, resulting in – ironically – a decrease in their productivity!
When addressing these concerns, it’s important that the employees are recognized for their contributions and that they understand that the use of the monitoring software is not due to a lack of trust between the employer and the employee. It helps to emphasize the other uses and benefits for employee monitoring such as data loss prevention, providing managers with clear indications that their employees have everything they need to work effectively, and highlighting employees that are doing amazing work.
A clearly defined policy that outlines the organization’s employee monitoring goals and the methods used to collect data will greatly help to increase transparency. By being open and honest about monitoring activities prior to their implementation, remote workers are given the opportunity to voice their concerns and learn the extent of how remote employee monitoring will be used by the company.
While an employee monitoring policy allows employees to be informed of monitoring in the workplace, it does not necessarily constitute as informed consent in the legal sense – the inherent power imbalance of an employer/employee relationship may mean that consent cannot be relied on as the legal precedent for employee monitoring in relation to data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA.
What to Include in Your Employee Monitoring Policy:
As part of your employee monitoring policy, consider giving monitored employees access to their own productivity reports so they can see exactly what data is being captured. Any available opportunity to increase transparency will help build trust in the intentions behind the monitoring that will be taking place.
If the company does not provide dedicated devices for remote workers to use or they have a formal Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that allows them to use personal devices in the workplace, there are limitations to the monitoring activities that can take place.
Should your remote employee give permission for their personal devices to be monitored, careful planning must be implemented to avoid inadvertently capturing personal information and sensitive internet history. If employees that are working from home have a designated schedule, schedule monitoring activities to only occur during working hours to avoid collecting personal usage data.
With the principle of proportionality in mind, clearly defining the types of data that is truly necessary to manage your remote workforce is key. The monitoring that will be taking place needs to be proportionate between its legitimate business use and its impact on employee privacy – if the impact on employee privacy is too great to justify, other metrics should be considered.
Examples of Invasive Monitoring:
Software to track remote employees can play an integral role in remote workforce management, but only if employee privacy is respected in the process. By limiting the amount of monitoring that will take place, respecting the boundaries associated with personal devices, establishing a clear employee monitoring policy, and using employee monitoring data effectively, employers can effectively use employee computer monitoring software to manage their remote employees.