Spying on your employees gives them another reason to leave. Photo: Shutterstock
Bossware, or employee monitoring and surveillance software, is a drag for many tech workers, despite industry analysis finding it on the rise.
About half of tech workers would quit if they had to be monitored at work with facial recognition or audio/video recordings, according to a new survey by Morning Consult.
Other types of bossware, namely tracking keystrokes and remotely accessing computers to take screenshots, are also disabled, with around half of respondents saying they would quit if they were. brought into their workplace.
Bossware on the rise
About three-quarters of tech workers are currently unsupervised, according to the 2022 survey of the computer, medical, pharmaceutical, communications, software and aerospace industry.
However, that figure could be higher, with a separate survey from Digital.com revealing that 60% of companies with remote staff use monitoring software.
That looks set to change, with virtual workplace surveillance introduced by the pandemic set to become more commonplace.
The number of large employers using tools to track workers has doubled since the start of the pandemic to 60% and that number is expected to rise to 70% over the next three years, according to a 2019 study by Gartner.
Fears of reduced productivity with remote work are unfounded, the research firm found.
According to Gartner research, about 55% of employees perform highly when they have radical flexibility about where, when, and with whom they work, compared to 36% of those who work 9 to 5 in the office.
“There is a common misconception that remote work leads to decreased employee productivity, despite data showing that remote work leads to positive productivity outcomes,” said Gartner Distinguished Analyst Helen Poitevin.
With the pressure on tech talent, the message to organizations is that now is not the time to embrace bossware, if they want to attract and retain their talent.
More than half of respondents to the Morning Consult survey would decline a role in an organization using employee monitoring technology.
Remote monitoring is also bad for workers’ health.
Employee monitoring has been linked to workplace stress and mental health issues, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States has found.
There are also very few regulations and enforceable standards relating to employee monitoring, as well as workplace stress and mental health requirements regarding how to register, classify and protect employees.
More research and action is needed around enforcement in home offices where employers use bossware to monitor and control the activities of their workers, the Center for Democracy & Technology says in a report.
Lack of transparency and concerns about data privacy
Employees are also put off by privacy concerns, with research from Gartner showing that less than half of employees trust their organization with their data.
There is also a real lack of communication, with 44% having no information about the data collected, according to the survey.
When there is communication on these topics, it tends to be poor, resulting in limited employee understanding and awareness of the use of personal data.
With the increasing adoption of bossware, Gartner expects to see new regulations emerge to introduce limits on what can be tracked about employees.
Organizations have too much leeway when it comes to adopting remote monitoring technology, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation said in its bossware report, with necessary protections, especially regarding data privacy laws.
He says surveillance must be necessary and proportionate and that there should be tools available to limit the personal data that is also collected during surveillance.