- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2023

While their bosses are no longer around the corner, remote workers are not free from surveillance.

According to a new survey from Resume Builder, many companies invested heavily in employee monitoring software at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that, even though their employees wouldn’t be in the office, they would still be working.

The vast majority, 96% of remote businesses, use employee monitoring software. The trend gained momentum after March 20, when just over 9% of companies used remote monitoring software.

The most common forms of worker surveillance involve monitoring web browser use and blocking certain apps and websites.

Some businesses make employees be on camera all day. Of the companies surveyed, 37.4% of businesses require workers to be on camera. The survey also found that the people assigned to watch the video feeds of their employees typically watch two to six hours each day.

That kind of monitoring is bound to find unproductive or unsatisfactory employees. According to the survey, 73% of companies fired at least one employee because of data found during surveillance. 

However, many companies have fired more than one. Of those companies, 34% fired six to 10 employees.

Intense worker surveillance leads to resignations as well. The survey found that 69% of companies have had workers quit over a disagreement over monitoring.

“It is not surprising that many employees do not want to feel like big brother is watching them daily when they are good employees and working hard for their organization,” Stacie Haller, Resume Builder’s chief career adviser, said.

Despite complaints from employees, business owners feel that monitoring employees has improved productivity. Only 3% of companies do not believe that employee monitoring has increased productivity, with most strongly (63%) or somewhat (34%) believing it has.

The survey also points to the future of online work.

“As managers become more comfortable in managing a remote workforce, and as younger workers become managers and have been working more of their career remotely, software monitoring will hopefully become antiquated and the focus will be on results and not the amount of time worked,” Ms. Haller said.

• Vaughn Cockayne can be reached at vcockayne@washingtontimes.com.

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