Let's talk about employee privacy. Many people have had to flex their working from home situations to adapt to safety measures, and absolutely flip the world upside down.
With this world going crazy, and people working from home in much larger numbers, this has prompted some employers to try to understand ways that they can monitor and check in on employees. I think some of this is probably altruistic, they want to make sure that people are doing okay. They want to make sure that people stay connected to the office. And they want to make sure that that collaboration is occurring.
But there is a dark side to this and it relates to employee privacy within their own homes as they're working from home. Earlier this year, the consultancy firm, PwC, came under fire for developing a facial recognition tool that logs when employees are away from their computer screens while working from home (creepy!)
As it relates to the workplace, there's a number of privacy regulations that have come into play. Things like GDPR, which is the EU privacy regulations, and many states in the United States have come out and said that privacy is the right of an employee and an employer has a duty to protect employee information.
So this is slip a slippery slope and employers, I would encourage you to think about a few things. If you're thinking about enacting employee tracking measures, the first thing is start to measure results first, before you assume that there's a problem.
A lot of times myself included as I'm dealing with kids and schedules and adjusted schools, and a spouse that also works from home, my day doesn't end, at five o'clock. It usually lasts well into the evening. A lot of times, I'm the most productive between eight and 10pm after the children are asleep. A lot of employees are going through this right now. So keep that in mind.
If you are tracking people on the hours they used to work from the office, and expecting them to do their work as part of a normal schedule, the question I would ask is, is it required to be done that way? If you don't require somebody to get their work done between a specific period of time, then what is the harm and allowing them to flex their time?
I think this comes down to goal setting. How are you and your managers setting goals so that your employees can ensure that they understand exactly what you expect of them? Do they understand the timeline that you expect them to get it done in? If you manage this process effectively, your productivity should hopefully not diminish or at least you should be able to measure your productivity effectively.
As opposed to having to resort to tracking software and facial recognition and creepy cell phone tracking programs and all those sorts of things.
The other thing to think about is how do we collaborate in a virtual world that's positive and fun and helpful, as opposed to forcing people to just sit on zoom meetings for six to eight hours of their day to ensure that they're connected to the organization. There are many different ways that you can do this. There's many apps within Microsoft Teams and Slack. There are other ways that you can engage people to stay connected to your organization.
If you're asking me: Do I want to work for the employer that I know has facial recognition tracking software that's going to track every time I sit down at my computer? I'm just gonna say No thanks.
I'm the Vice President - Human Resources for CPM Holdings, Inc. In this role, I oversees the aspects of Human Resources for 27 domestic and international locations in 11 countries. I've previously held progressive HR roles for Fortune 500 organizations.