“Big Brother” Is Monitoring Your Work

A recent article in The Economist titled “Big Brother Bosses” commented that more and more companies are using software to monitor their employees’ behavior. According to the article, in these days of financial stress, there’s been a communications breakdown between management and employees, and managers are turning to new tools to combat “presenteeism” – a syndrome where employees show up for work every day, but then get very little work done.

For those of us from the contact center, the need to see how employees are performing isn’t that radical. We’re used to an environment in which everybody can be measured for productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and schedule adherence. Similarly, in manufacturing organizations such as Toyota’s, productivity and quality measurements are considered a standard part of daily business. Not to mention schedule adherence—you can’t build something if someone isn’t there on the line.

It isn’t such a stretch to imagine that managers of knowledge workers also want to know how much work their employees are performing, and whether or not the work meets a quality standard. The capability exists today to produce reports of calls and email activity, including the nature of the activity and the duration, as well as the parties with whom an employee has interacted; reports can also be produced on back office work items handled by the employee.

 Such information wouldn’t benefit just the manager—the employees themselves could find it useful. While it might feel intimidating to know that at any point your manager can see how much work you’ve handled that day, it could extend accountability throughout back office teams. For productive workers, it could demonstrate their value to the organization, and where teams are overworked, provide hard data to back up their requests for additional head count.

Adding workforce management and recording/scoring technology could enable back office teams to better plan out head count and training needs, as well as assist management in mentoring employees for career development purposes. While these technologies are now taken for granted in the contact center, they could significantly improve operations in the back office.

So my question to our blog readers is this: would you view this as beneficial technology, or as “spyware”? If you could have technology that could help answer that difficult question of “What did I do at work today?”, and could point out where you were spending the bulk of your time, would you view it as helpful and embrace it? Would it help you adjust your work accordingly, so that you were spending time on the things you really needed to? Or would you simply see it as intrusive and another step by Big Brother?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

Rachel Wentink