how companies monitor employees at home office

At a time when the return to face-to-face work has become an arm wrestling between companies and employeestools of home office monitoringwhich have already spread in the United States and on Europe, have been rapidly gaining strength in the country. The devices work as a kind of “Big Brother” of the corporate world. Anything goes to ensure productivity: photograph the employee, his screen or even capture everything the person types on the computer keyboard.

To monitor employees while working remotely, companies track everything from search history to geolocation.
To monitor employees while working remotely, companies track everything from search history to geolocation. Photograph: Daniel Teixeira/Estadão

To Estadão, employees of companies that use this type of monitoring service report situations of surprise in the face of practice and tension between team members. Most of the companies operating in this market are foreign, but there are Brazilian startups that are exploring this market, which had a “boom” with the covid-19 pandemicwhich has driven millions of people to remote work.

One of the Brazilian businesses that have the tools to put the “corporate Big Brother” into practice is monitorcreated in 2019 by Murilo Rodrigues and Alexandre Cunha. From ten customers in the pre-pandemic portfolio, the number jumped today to 700, from the most diverse sectors.

Our conflict was how far we could monitor without invading privacy.”

Murilo Rodrigues, founding partner of Monitoo

According to Rodrigues, Monitoo was created thinking about a demand identified in IT companies, who wanted to trace the productivity of their employees – even at the time when everyone worked within the companies. “Our conflict was how far we could monitor without invading privacy,” she says.

The company’s tool tracks the programs and pages opened by the employee and separates them, through algorithms, from what can be considered productive or unproductive. This selection varies according to the company’s sector of activity. “The tool is used by direct managers and HR, but it can be used by the employee himself to know how he is spending his time. There are people who have a harder time staying focused,” he said.

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Monitoo Program Screen: Purpose is to capture employee productivity.

But the surveillance doesn’t stop there. There are much more invasive options on the market, which go beyond accounting for working hours and productivity. THE kickidler, based in Cyprusbut which operates in Brazil, makes video recording of the employee’s computer screen, automatically notifies when “workplace violations”, delay or access to sites classified as prohibited are observed.

The company designs, for example, a “pop-up” alert to remind the employee that he is doing something he could not during working hours. Sought, the company did not return the interview request.

There is no research in Brazil that shows the extent of the use of this type of tool by companies, but there are indications that its use has been increasing gradually. In the United States, to give you an idea, the calculation is that 6 out of 10 companies make use of some type of monitoring, according to a survey by the digital.com.

I was monitored even outside working hours.”

marketing clerk

Smile! You’re being filmed

It is not difficult to find, on social networks, reports of Brazilian workers who were surprised to discover that the company they work for virtually monitor their every step. An employee of Santander – who prefers not to identify himself – says that he was already used to the idea of ​​security cameras watching the environment, but he was startled by the news that his computer was being monitored all the time.

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“A person at work told me that they have access to everything we see on the computer. Apart from the cameras, because there is one that is behind my computer”, says the Spanish bank employee. “It’s a real Big Brother.”

When asked about its monitoring practices, Santander said in a note that it “monitors the correct use of the bank’s tools, with the consent of employees”. As disclosed, the purpose of the practice is “to ensure the security of confidential or legally protected information, as well as compliance with ethical and corporate behavior in accordance with Compliance standards.”

Monitoring needs to be known to the employee and included in the employment contract or individual agreement”

Antonio Carlos Pereira Neto, partner at Terciotti Andrade Gomes Donato Advogados, Antonio Carlos Pereira Neto

in the case of Deloitte Brazil, to monitor the performance of workers, the company periodically checks the location of employees on the institutional computer, as reported by a former employee of the company, who also preferred to remain anonymous.

He says that workers could not “keep the clock” virtually away from home, since the address informed to the company about remote work had to be respected. “There was a period when we needed to register, with geolocation, even the lunch and coffee breaks, with entry and exit”, he recalls. “The bosses were on top, watching if we were working from home.” When contacted, Deloitte stated that its relations “with its professionals are based on trust”.

“It was under this premise that we implemented, even before the pandemic, a work model that provided remote work on some days of the week that evolved into what we call ‘Digital Workplace’, allowing flexibility in the ways of working for our professionals”. He also stated that because of this established trust, the company “does not aim to control where its professionals access the system, since they can work from home, from the client in the context of the Digital Workplace”.

After sending employees home during the pandemic, companies discuss returning to the office as they try to keep an eye on productivity at home.
After sending employees home during the pandemic, companies discuss returning to the office as they try to keep an eye on productivity at home. Photograph: Daniel Teixeira/Estadão

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For a sales assistant, who also preferred not to be identified, the case ends up causing strain on the workers – despite the fact that, at her company, people were informed that there would be cell phone and computer monitoring.

During the period she worked at the company, the employee reports cases of excessive surveillance, beyond her work period. “The cell phone I received had a tracker, it monitored calls, messages and applications that I used. I was monitored even outside working hours,” she says.

For Carlos Eduardo Altonaconsulting partner Exec, the use of these monitoring tools should be a passing thing, which will be replaced by more refined management strategies. According to him, this is something that has already been discussed between companies and human resources specialists.

In the opinion of the Exec partner, in the future, software of this type will only be needed to manage extremely strategic positions, which will continue to perform the work 100% remotely. “In general cases, companies will have to establish more sophisticated tools that can measure the performance of employees without necessarily having to record them”, says Altona.

Monitoring is cool, but it has rules

O partner at Terciotti Andrade Gomes Donato Advogados, Antonio Carlos Pereira Neto, recalls that the monitoring of remote work was regularized in a provisional measure that regulated hybrid work. This monitoring, which can only be done through the “log in” and “log out” of the computer, highlights, is waived when the contract is for production or for a specific job.

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“Monitoring needs to be known to the employee and included in the employment contract or individual agreement”, he explains. This monitoring, he emphasizes, cannot embarrass the employee and must be in accordance with the General Personal Data Protection Act (LGPD).

According to Altona, from Exec, companies that use employee monitoring strategies using screen recording software, photos and access to research history need to be transparent, always informing employees about the practice. “The more documented, the better for the company to protect itself (from labor lawsuits)”, she emphasizes.

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