Working From Home: Privacy vs Paycheck
It seems with every passing day we are drawing closer to a full-blown surveillance state. Security cameras, traffic cameras, cell phone cameras, no matter where we go, there is a camera watching us. It should be no surprise then that some people are being watched in their own homes as a condition of employment.
In 2020, it's probably assumed that whenever a person is on the internet, they throw all expectations of personal privacy out the window.
It's also probably safe to assume that whenever an employee is using computer equipment that is owned and controlled by their employer, it's expected that everything you do on that computer is tracked.
The grey area is what happens when an employee is working remotely from home and they use personal computer equipment for work purposes?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working from home than ever before. With that comes expectations from employers that their employees are truly working and not watching Tiger King.
Some employers have required their employees to install tracking software on their personal computers as a condition of working remotely. According to Insurance Journal, this software can record keystrokes, take screenshots, and of course track website visits. Some can even enable the device's webcam to take pictures or video of the employee. Seeing a co-worker in their pajamas could be awkward.
The software also knows if the computer sits idle for a period of time and will produce a pop-up message encouraging the employee to resume working.
It doesn't stop with an employee's laptop, there are smartphone apps available that allow employers the option to track the location of the employee's phone.
According to Insurance Journal, it's entirely legal for employers to monitor employees so long as the monitoring is disclosed.
Some employers would say that if they are paying for an employee's time, then the employee should be working. Employees would say they don't want to be surveilled in their homes.
A positive take-a-way for both sides is employees could use this software to prove to their employers that they are capable of handling the responsibility of working at home.
Or the employee could find another job, one without in-home surveillance.
Insurance Journal contributed to this article.