HR Brew: Employee surveillance is exploding with remote work (feat. Jessica Vitak)

UMD iSchool Staff - January 27, 2022

Journalist Sam Blum examines how the expansion of worker surveillance runs the risk of shattering employees’ trust.

Image of hands typing on a laptop keyboard

Sam Blum of HR Brew shares that worker surveillance has increased since the pandemic and rise of telework. Companies are keeping tabs on their employees through techniques such as monitoring keystrokes and mouse movements on company computers, scraping emails, taking screenshots, tracking workers’ physical locations through biometric employee IDs, and tracking the lengths of conversations with colleagues. Blum shares that “60% of companies with at least 1,000 workers that responded to the [Gartner] survey had adopted these technologies by the end of 2021, compared to only 30% prior to the pandemic.”

In the article, Blum interviews data privacy ethics expert Jessica Vitak, Associate Professor and HCIL Director at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies. Vitak discusses the lack of awareness that many employees have about this surveillance, stating that “The emphasis should be on the company to make sure its employees have not just been notified, but that they know about and understand these policies.” Vitak goes on to explain the phenomenon of function creep, which occurs when technology is used for purposes beyond its original intent.

Read the full article here, published January 19, 2022 by HR Brew