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Workplace expert urges employers to take balanced approach in remote work ‘surveillance’

A workplace specialist has shined a spotlight on key issues that employers need to consider when tracking their employees’ output when working remotely.

user iconEmma Musgrave 05 July 2021 SME Law
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Maureen Kyne, principal of Maureen Kyne & Associates, said while employee surveillance software has become the new norm to help manage remote offices, companies “must strike the correct balance between respecting the personal information of staff members and the employers’ right to monitor.

This is particularly important now the line between work and home is blurred for many employees, Ms Kyne said.

“COVID has turned the workplace upside down so employers want to understand how people work, when they’re most productive, and how their diary and workload looks in a remote or hybrid environment,” she said.


“It makes smart business sense; it gives you accuracy, a better understanding of productivity and performance and it is helping companies anticipate changing roles and expectations in the post COVID environment.

“I think you have to put a lot of trust in someone that is working remotely because the boss may have no idea what employees are doing all day.

“What employers can’t do is install monitoring software without advising employees they’re doing so and getting their written consent.

To avoid crossing boundaries, Ms Kyne outlined her top tips for introducing responsible digital monitoring with staff.

Firstly, she said it’s important for employers to convey a strong level of transparency with staff.

Remote work creates new expectations, she said.

Just as the office provided a level of assurance that employees were doing their job well, digital monitoring tools help managers ensure employee efficiencies and performance expectations are met.

If the current trend to work from home continues, tracking technology will become the norm and ultimately take the place of a manager’s eyes.

On the opposite side of the coin, Ms Kyne said a level of transparency and accountability must be ensured with clients.

When COVID upended workers and forced them to work from home, it also demands greater client accountability, she said.

Clients want assurances their needs are being met remotely. Monitoring technology allows for billable hours, time management and project status to be tracked to justify contracts and assure the same level of customer service and sales exists and it will continue to be delivered.

Clear communication must also be prioritised when it comes to new workplace rules, according to Ms Kyne.

A clear workplace surveillance policy setting out rules for use of email, chat, social platforms, Internet use and using company property will remind employees they are still subject to the company’s workplace policies, she said, before noting that it’s essential for employers to have a clearly defined electronic surveillance policy in place.

Ensure all workers are aware of the monitoring techniques being used and they understand their responsibilities in the remote workplace. Explain the information and material from surveillance is for employment purposes only and will not be sold or used by a third party.