Employee Monitoring Has Increased 56% Since The Pandemic Started — Here's How to Fight Back

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 23, 2024 at 9:53PM UTC

“I was just sideswiped by my manager,” a Fairygodboss member writes on the community feed. “I’ve been with this company almost fully remote for a little over two years. I get along great with my manager and peers and my reviews have been great and I was even given an additional salary increase last month.

“But on Monday a report went out that shows every second that my mouse isn’t moving and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of me. I’m so anxious now because my manager is having me dig through calendars and emails to try and fill the times my mouse wasn’t moving. Shouldn’t it be enough that I excel at my job and work days and night when necessary? I’m about to clean up my resume because I don’t see how this who exercise is going to work in my favor.”

For many, this may sound alarming. But employee surveillance has become increasingly common. Top10VPN finds that the demand for employee monitoring software has grown by 75% between January and March 2022. More and more, employers are not only cataloging how many hours employees are working and the websites they visit but also using tools like biometrics to track and assess activity and behaviors.

It’s natural that workers are shocked by this — and concerned. So, what can they do to fight back?

1. Look into the company policy.

“This kind of micro monitoring is becoming very common,” Martha Farley Berninger writes. “Decide if you can move forward productively in this environment, and if so, make a point of doing what is needed to meet the metrics. If not, start looking seriously. Check for company policy on this monitoring and make sure you know what to expect.”

It’s critical for you to understand exactly what your employer is tracking and how they’re using that information. Make sure you read the policy carefully so you know what’s going on.

2. Voice your concerns — and offer evidence.

One 2020 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that autonomy is linked to employee health and wellness. Monitoring employees, meanwhile, is the opposite of affording them autonomy and wreaks havoc on engagement and productivity. Moreover, it can make employees fearful and paranoid.

Raise your concerns with management, offering evidence of why employee monitoring is detrimental to employee well-being, workplace culture and the overall organization.

3. Document everything.

It’s very clear that productivity cannot be measured by mouse movement. So, show them how you are working hard and producing results by documenting your efforts.

“Be confident in what you do and dazzle them by listing every dang thing you can think of including when you work outside of normal hours,” Audrey Kirsch writes. “Often no one really knows all that we remote workers do. Someone has asked, so tell them.”

“This is the point where, if you do not already, you should start documenting,” another Fairygodboss member agrees. “Buy a notebook and start writing down how much time you spent on a task and write out what that tasked involved.”

4. Look elsewhere

Ultimately, and unfortunately, this may not be the supportive work environment and culture you need.

“To me, this is a sign of insecure leadership with very little trust in their employees,” Anonymous writes. “If you are getting great reviews, and have had no conversations/indications of a performance issue, I would push back. Personally, I'd start looking for another job, as this is an indicator of some deeper-rooted issues in your company's culture that I would not want to continue to be a part of.” 

“This seems like a massive red flag regarding the culture of the company,” JC Lindquist agrees. “You are not wasting work hours on a CYA project.”

“It's time to clean up your resume and tap into your network for other positions outside of this company,” adds Kat. “Capturing mouse clicks as a productivity measure takes micromanagement to a whole new level. You deserve to be treated like the smart, capable professional you are-not some child that has to be monitored constantly. There are plenty of companies that don't do this to their employees, so now you have the opportunity to find one!”

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for dealing with employee monitoring? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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