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BT Week 9 - IT in workplace

Bozena Tkaczyk
  • Public
By Bozena Tkaczyk in the group COMP 607: Fall 2015 cohort December 4, 2015 - 3:20pm

Many exployers feel that they have the right to monitor their worker’s activity. Workplace monitoring occurs either to safeguard employees, protect the interests of the employer and/or to secure the interests of their clients. Afterall, employers are paying for time and they should know whether their employees are spending it wisely or not. While this may be a reasonable approach to the matter, there are other factors, which may cause some differences of opinion. Everyone has the right to a certain level of privacy in the workplace and most workplaces establish limits to their monitoring activities. There are; however, certain employers that resort to rather controversial modes of monitoring such as opening/reading emails, listening in on telephone conversations, monitoring internet activity as well as installing closed-circuit television video surveillance.

Many people work during the regular business hours of nine to five – a time when all other businesses, institutions and organizations are also open. Sometimes, the only time for people to run personal errands is during this time; a time to make phonecalls to the doctor’s office, discuss important matters with their children’s teacher or plan a surprise party for their husband’s upcoming 50th birthday - all of which should be done during work breaks. Not having the freedom to do certain things during this time, could cause much undue stress and frustration, leading to other consqequences down the road.  The employer has their bottom line, but so do their workers. The question is how to reconcile the needs of both parties with a solution that is mutually acceptable and beneficial. 

Some employees; however, may abuse their freedoms and use their time at work in otherwise unnecessary ways. In today’s world, with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, many people have become addicted to such distractions and will spend countless hours engaging with social media. Certain employees may also do their online banking, search online dating sites , look up materials unrelated to their work and even search pornography on the Internet. While such activity should not, and in most cases is not acceptable, many workplaces lack proper monitoring of their employees to ensure that such behaviour does not take place.

In certain cases; however, it is the employer who takes things too far. While making sure that employees stay on task and don’t waste their time at work is acceptable and in most cases should even be encouraged, certain employers take monitoring to rather oppressive levels - in most cases without the knowledge of their empoyees. Software such as Spector 360, for example, “enables companies to log, retain, review and report on employee activity,” through direct access to email/webmail, chat/instant messaging, user activity/inactiviy, websites visited as well as even keystrokes typed. Through such measures, employers are able to gain access to employees personal and sensitive information, such as passwords to private accounts, banking information and anything else that their employees might do at work, be it within regular work hours or on their breaks. 

While a certain level of monitoring is necessary in order to ensure that employees are not wasting their time and the resources of their employers on things that are unrelated to their work, there need to be strict guidelines as to how much monitoring is to be allowed. The question is, when does monitoring become too much and what is the best way to ensure that both parties remain fair without violating the rights of the other.