It’s easy to feel disturbed these days, even if you’re still working from home.
The notifications are constant. The pings ring in your ears and leave a nasty echo.
And then there’s the espionage.
When the pandemic hit, companies feared they wouldn’t be able to monitor their employees like they used to. They couldn’t tower over them, see how long it took them for lunch – or for a bathroom break.
It’s frustrating being a boss and not having full control. you should have it right? You are the boss.
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Smart tech companies were offering what these bosses really needed — spy software that could remotely track every keystroke and body movement of their employees.
A tech company insisted it could offer bosses a productivity number for each employee.
Fortunately, now that many are (reluctantly) returning to the office, those same bosses are often expanding the surveillance software there.
Because it warms bosses’ hearts. And, of course, because it’s a wonderfully inexpensive way to push employees to higher and higher levels of productivity.
Or is it?
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I was put into several levels of total stasis, you see, reading an exposé about surveillance software on the internet Wall Street Journal.
It described the different levels of data protection offered by different types of software. It has been explained that Microsoft is one of those companies that does not believe that simple activities lead to material productivity.
But then it offered the perspective of two professors – Valerio De Stefano of Canada’s York University and Antonio Aloisi of IE University in Madrid.
You have a book called “Your boss is an algorithm.” So many people must feel that this is true now.
However, its harshest conclusion about surveillance software is surely the most painful for those who succumb to it every day because they feel like they have no choice.
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As Aloisi said WSJ: “There is definitely no study that indicates that this increases productivity appreciably.”
I can hear you muttering that science, like law, is always too slow for the rapid innovations of technology. I hear other of you snort that might be the case, but wouldn’t it be nice to have objective, peer-reviewed proof that surveillance technology makes people more productive?
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There seems to be some scientific evidence that the opposite may be true.
But think about basic human psychology. Are you ever at your best when you know you’re being spied on? Are you offering the best version of yourself knowing your every move is being recorded? It’s not easy to dance like nobody’s looking.
Or could it be that you are most productive when you work for people who trust your talent and judgment?
There is another aspect. What does it say about the managerial ability of managers if they have to constantly monitor their managers? Could this indicate a lack of confidence in their managerial skills? Or even a simple lack of managerial skills?
I wonder who invents surveillance software that only works for a certain amount of time and then explains: “Yes, this employee can absolutely be trusted to handle it on his own. Switch off the surveillance now.”
Wouldn’t that at least have a chance to be productive?