Are you worried about your homeworkers kicking back during the pandemic? Shibu Philips, founder of London-based beauty business Transcend, has told the BBC he has been using Hubstaff software in order to monitor what his employees are doing. He says he knows only too well what its like to waste time at work. The software allows him to track his workers’ hours, keystrokes, mouse movements and websites. He can look at screenshots and see how much time workers are taking on tasks. Employees are fully aware of the software and can delete websites visited during breaks.
The pandemic has created a big demand for this and other kinds of surveillance software. Employers worry that a lack of visibility will impact on employee productivity. Understandably, they want to protect their businesses at what is a crunch time for many. But is software the way forward? Employees have also struggled during the pandemic, worried about their health and families as well as their jobs and future prospects. Introducing monitoring software during a crisis could damage employee trust and confidence at a time when you want to retain your very best people to see you through the crisis. Surveillance software isn’t fool proof – it can’t record thinking time or the creative process in any meaningful way.
Instead of software, consider whether some TLC might be a better way to go. Make sure managers are checking in regularly with staff, not only to monitor work but to check on wellbeing. Filter out and deal with any genuine shirkers as you would normally if they took a three-hour lunch. The human touch can be more sensitive than software, and carrots invariably work better than sticks with the employees you want to keep. And remember, if you do use surveillance software to monitor staff, have a clear policy, get employees to explicitly agree to its terms and make sure it is used proportionately.