Shibu Philip says he knows what it's like to “waste a little time at work.”
He is the founder of Transcend, a small London-based company that buys beauty products in bulk and resells them online.
For the last year and a half, you have used Hubstaff software to closely track your workers' working hours, to see what they type, what their mouse movements are, and what websites they visit.
With seven employees in India, he says the software ensures that they have “a certain level of responsibility” and helps cover the time difference.
“I know myself. People can take an extra 10-minute break here or there. It's nice to have an automated way to monitor what [my employees] are doing,” Shibu says.
“By looking at the screenshots and the time everyone spends on certain tasks, I know if they are following the procedures or not.”
“And if they are doing better than I expected, I also study the collected material and ask them to share that knowledge with the rest of the team so that we can all improve,” he says.
Employees are fully aware that the software is active.
Plus, they can eliminate time spent visiting websites that might have been accidentally logged during your break, for example, Shibu adds.
If you are one of those who have had to place your laptop on a pile of cookbooks during the pandemic or have had to complain about the speed of the internet at home, you are not alone.
Lazy at home?
With many people around the world now working from home due to the pandemic, the demand for software that monitors employee activity has rebounded.
The US-based Hubstaff says its number of UK clients has quadrupled since February.
Another company called Sneek offers technology that takes photos of workers through the laptop's camera and shares them for the rest of their colleagues to see.
Although it describes itself as a communication platform, its program allows you to take a photo every minute.
Its co-founder, Del Currie, told the BBC that his users had increased five times during the lockdown, adding almost 20,000 clients in total.
A recent study by academics at the University of Cardiff and the University of Southampton, both in the UK, found that a common fear among bosses is that workers who are out of sight will “laze”, although quarantine periods will not either. seem to have affected production a lot.
The survey also suggested that a third of those who work from home felt that their productivity had also decreased.
But is technology the answer to identifying those who might be lazing around or helping those struggling to adjust to working from the kitchen table full time?
“I would have felt bad if I knew they were watching me”
Photographer Josh says he struggled with both logistics and motivation
Josh, a 26-year-old photographer living in London, admits that the hardest thing about working from home was the drop in productivity.
Setting up a makeshift studio in the kitchen of their three-room shared flat was a logistical challenge, but also a motivational one.
“Some days I would do it, but other days I would sit and stare at my sandals for a long time, thinking: 'I can't do this.' It's very easy to do your laundry or make a cup of tea. ease”.
He is thankful that his boss does not use any tracking software with him.
“In those days when it was a bit more difficult to be motivated, I would have felt bad if I had known that someone was controlling my productivity,” he says.
Josh has long suspected that he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can make it hard to focus and manage time. His doctor agrees, although he is still on the waiting list for a test.
You have recently returned to the office and greatly appreciate having more face-to-face interaction.
“There I find a routine, a structure that really anchors me and helps me get through it all.”
Since restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were imposed, companies have had to design emergency solutions so that their employees can work from home.
With caution and written policies
Although some bosses who use tracking software argue that it is a valid tool for maintaining productivity, research by the Chartered Institute in Personnel and Development (CIPD), a London-based association of HR professionals, suggests that the Surveillance in a work environment can damage confidence.
“Monitoring employee behavior can be a justifiable way to reduce misconduct and potentially help manage time,” says Jonny Gifford, Organizational Behavior Research Advisor at CIPD.
“However, employers must have clear policies so that workers know how they can be monitored and, more importantly, the system must be provided.”
Employers will get “much better results” if they support their workers, he adds, “instead of focusing on potentially irrelevant input measures, such as the number of keystrokes.”
Jonathan Rennie, a partner at UK law firm TLT, also urges companies to consider introducing such software with caution.
“Employers have an implicit legal obligation to maintain the trust of their workers and must be aware of how they might react to the massive deployment of monitoring software,” he says.
It suggests that any company that uses monitoring software should have written policies that explain how and why it is being used.
There should also be clear guidance for administrators and safeguards to prevent misuse or “over-monitoring,” he says.