Are You Being Watched?

September 1, 2022

When Covid 19 required employees to work from home, companies (some very reluctantly) had to comply. At that time, I learned that productivity software was “flying off the shelves”. If the software is needed to measure productivity, then we might as well dispense with leadership.

The first thing that’s wrong with this approach is the notion of measuring activity vs. results. Long ago as the Corporate training manager for a large company, I was required to write a monthly activity report. With a team of 17 trainers, this would have taken many non-value-added hours. However, we were focused on results and if our team members couldn’t describe an outcome from the activity, it was not included.

A fun note: smart people have found ways to play with the software. One remote professional said she walked around with her mouse in her pocket – moving it regularly to show “productivity”.

A software vendor states: Installing employee monitoring software is the best thing to do to monitor your remote employees. It makes it easier to identify issues, and much more satisfying when the results are widely recognized. The software allows remote employees to manually start a clock when they begin working. The software takes computer screenshots randomly or at intervals assigned by the employer, which can be reviewed online, as evidence that work is being performed. No spying, only transparency.

No spying, only transparency??
Creating and managing a high performing team to achieve results is the key responsibility of a leader. Effective leaders establish trusting relationships with team members, set and communicate high expectations, and provide coaching and recognition based on those results. It doesn’t matter where people work to these successful leaders.

Using software for the sole purpose of measuring an employee’s activity communicates a lack of trust for the very people companies have gone to great lengths to hire and retain. The reality is, that it is not a management tool, but a workaround for managers unwilling to engage in open, two-way, adult-to-adult communication.

As a leader in your organization, create trusting relationships and clear expectations supported by frequent two-way communication. That’s not hard. And you know who is achieving results and who is not. As an employee, with more options available, consider the message your company is sending by monitoring your productivity and determine if this is acceptable to you.