Working from an office used to be normal. But, that time is so far in the past that it would be naive to think we will ever go back to our former state. Honestly, many of us are wondering why working from the office Monday through Friday ever made sense in the first place. The time wasted commuting, along with the cost of rent is unbelievable.
Looking back, many people have started to wonder if going to work every day in person was more about control than productivity. It gave managers a bird’s eye view of what employees were doing all day. And, it kept employees working with fewer outside distractions.
But, was it really the right way to approach work? I don’t believe so. I’ve been the most productive when I’ve had the most autonomy. And, when I’ve been under someone’s thumb, my productivity and creativity have dropped.
The interesting twist to working from home is that some employers are looking for new ways to feel that they still have control over employees. I first heard about this when friends discussed their managers calling them on video at random times during the workday. The purpose appeared to be monitoring the employee, rather than anything helpful.
But, the real shocker comes from employee monitoring software. Last week, The Washington Post released a shocking article documenting digital monitoring of employees in the remote work environment. Employees shared stories about keystroke tracking, screenshots, and facial recognition.
One employee, who chose to remain anonymous, shared a story of trying to find something on their computer. He was clicking around, trying to find the spot where he needed to be. Suddenly, his boss started to speak to him through his headset, instructing him on where to go.
Another employee described her company using facial recognition software. In order to get paid, she would have to look toward her screen while working. If she looked around for too long, she’d have to log in all over again. Not only was her photo being taken, but the tiny light coming from the camera was on while she was working.
The thing about remote work is that it has the potential to be more productive. But, the relationship between employee and employer is built on trust. And, if someone is going slack off, they will be able to do this whether they’re being monitored or not. Beyond that, people are not machines. They may have days that are less productive, and they may have other days that are very productive.
The bottom line is, employers should consider decreasing monitoring, and increasing trust. You can do this by setting realistic goals and holding your employees to them. Measure results, not keystrokes. And, if someone isn’t trustworthy, replace them with someone who is. Create a culture based on mutual respect, and you’ll increase productivity, and save a little money on rent at the same time.