Remote working has hidden employees from sight, causing some employers to worry about what their staff are doing during working hours. The Guardian has reported that one of the world’s biggest call centre companies is planning to install surveillance systems to monitor what their staff are doing, whether that’s working, eating or going to the toilet. Teleperformance, which employs 380,000 staff in 34 countries, works for big names in Britain such as the government, NHS Digital, Vodafone, Aviva and the Guardian itself. The article says that there is nothing to suggest that these companies know about this surveillance plan and Teleperformance has now indicated that surveillance will not be rolled out in the UK. Teleperformance has said that the surveillance plans evolved from employees saying that they felt isolated while working at home.
Do employees need this kind of monitoring to do their jobs? There will always be some employees who take advantage of being invisible to managers. But in normal times, these people take a few minutes extra for lunch, hang out too long at the water cooler and do their online shopping while they should be working. Most employees understand that they need to get the job done, regardless of where they are doing it. Sticking a camera in someone’s face and asking them to tick a box before they go to the toilet is insulting and infantilising. It is likely to breed distrust and cause the majority of hardworking employees to feel aggrieved. It won’t help businesses to recruit and retain the best people.
The best way to monitor performance is to do just that – monitor performance, just as you would in the office. Apply clear and measurable targets. Conduct appropriate day to day management. Create an open dialogue between staff and management. You don’t need a camera to see what your staff are doing. You need good management.