There's no hiding...
Staff working from home may enjoy not being within physical sight of their boss – but they are more visible than ever thanks to the workplace systems that are evolving with this new cohort of virtual workers.
Working from home can be empowering, flexible and liberating – but it can also add more stress and weight onto your workload. When an employer does not manage their remote working set-up properly with their employees, it can create a whole host of new problems – including trust issues. Without trust an entire work culture can disappear and mean that employers turn to problematic, and debatably unethical, methods of keeping track of their team.
Employees all over the country have chosen to continue working from home after COVID-19 lockdowns or are within companies that simply did not return to the traditional office. It is critical that these staff members are aware that they are being monitored from home using new technologies that they may not even know are installed on their computer.
Technology has caught up and been adapted to screen the activity of employees from home across the country. Employers are using this equipment to keep an eye on staffers from afar. If you want to ensure that you continue to put your best foot forward with your workplace, you must understand where and how you’re being tracked online.
Four of the key monitoring devices and systems that you had no idea your boss is employing include:
- Your work email account is not as private as you think. Using your work email to sign up to Netflix or your favourite boutiques’ email list is not a great look to your employer, especially when they have access to your account. These days most employers will have overriding access to your email accounts via their saved passwords. Next time you send something to trash or archive it so that its out of sight, reconsider if your boss would have the same approach.
- Text tracking is now a thing. There are a number of applications on the market that track every word you type and report back to your boss. These programs are often referred to as ‘ethical hacking’ because they must be installed onto your device and only notify your employer if you type something they have flagged as inappropriate, such as credit card details or redacted business information.
- You are against the clock. Employees all over the world are expected to complete tasks at a rate that is productive and in line with their company’s expectations. When you work from home your boss can’t pop their head over your shoulder to check that you’re on track, so instead they’re adopting solutions such as ‘Time Doctor’ to log employees’ productivity. Platforms similar to Time Doctor will track screenshots, webcam usage, the amount of time a single project takes and other metrics of productivity, and compile them for your boss’s viewing.
- Don’t forget your cloud-based file server. Without any additional spyware or IT know-how, your employer can see every file you have recently viewed, edited or uploaded. Common cloud-based platforms, such as OneDrive, GoogleDrive and Dropbox, will all divulge to your boss what files you are using in order to determine if you’re on track and on task.
This might be a rude shock to employees who did not know many businesses use monitoring software to track their employees’ computer activity. If your mind is suddenly running through the number of times you scrolled through your Facebook feed last week, ordered a new dress online, archived an email you didn’t want to deal with, or lied about what time you uploaded that urgent file onto the server, then it is time that you step up.
There are very few excuses for using your work computer during work hours for non-work related activities, so if you know that this is you then it is time to start doing the right thing. If not, you could risk serious consequences from your boss who has been monitoring your productivity – or lack thereof.
There are a number of things you can do to manage your boss’ online monitoring. Five things you should never do on your work computer include:
- Do non-work-related activities. Your work computer should be used solely to produce work content. That may mean you need to invest in a personal device, or just use your phone for any personal errands or online shopping hauls.
- Save personal passwords. If you save your personal passwords to your non-work accounts you’re exposing your personal data with the company’s IT team and hackers.
- Write sensitive emails. Gossiping about your boss? Having a whinge about the results of last night’s meeting? Do not do it in your work emails. Using keyboard-tracking technology, your boss will know what you have sent before even the desired recipient of the message.
- Keep your personal files on your work computer. Forget the boss, do you really want the IT team scrolling through your personal documents? Anything saved onto your work computer is, rightfully or wrongfully, fair game to anyone with access to your device.
- Look for a job. If you want a sure-fire way to burn bridges with your current employer and completely butcher your chance for a stellar reference, then it would be best not to apply for a job or scroll through Seek using your work computer. Not only is it disrespectful to your boss, it is also majorly unproductive.