The debate over monitoring employees

July 16th, 2013

Your company provided you a laptop you can use at home. Say you use it to watch movies on Netflix. Should your company be able to track which movies you saw? Maybe you do the majority of your work on a company-provided iPad. Should your company be able to track the Facebook posts you make on it during your off-hours?

Privacy matters

These are the concerns that Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large with Information Week, recently tackled in an online feature story. In his story, Claburn wrote about Harvard University administrators searching the e-mail accounts of 16 faculty members to uncover the source of leaks to the media about a recent cheating scandal at the school. Faculty members were angered and shocked at the administrators’ actions.

High-tech snooping?

That’s because today’s technology allows employers to monitor everything from where their employees are during the day – thanks to smart phones and GPS – to what Web sites they’re visiting to what e-mail messages they’re sending. Employers implement this for a multitude of reasons; they don’t want their employees to embarrass them on social media sites. They need to make sure that their employees aren’t visiting TMZ during working hours. The question is: Will this monitoring pay off for companies?

Mixed opinions

A source quoted by Claburn, though, sums up the downside of this lack of privacy. The source claims that when employers trust employees, they’re rewarded with worker behavior that is worthy of such trust. Sadly, in today’s tech age, trust by both employers and employees appears to be declining.