This article, written by Rebecca Crowe, responds to the recent Metro article: Your boss is already reading your emails. What happens when they can track your every move?
An increasing number of businesses are wielding AI and analytics as a means to track their workforce’s productivity. Ellen Scott’s thoughtful piece details several ways in which managers can monitor their team legally, using modern technology. She includes keystrokes, time stamp apps, and even technology which counts precisely how many hours you spend sitting in your office chair. When you add into the mix the use of AI from our personal phones (which can be used to track our behaviour and productivity), it seems like there is no escape. With Slack’s latest announcement that premium customers will be able to read their employees’ private messages without notifying them beforehand, the prospect becomes even more terrifying
It seems that ‘Big Brother’ truly present within the modern office. Why is this the case? Are we less committed and trustworthy than we were before? Have we become so overstretched that we need minute-by-minute monitoring to improve efficiency? Just because the technology exists, should we all be making use of it? This seems to be the logic of most companies engaged in this kind of employee monitoring. Whilst it’s true that there are more distractions in the modern world than in the past (social media notifications, phones ringing, and that dreaded email ping) - going full Minority Report isn’t necessarily the right call.
People are still people. Continuous monitoring can cause increased stress and anxiety, which actually obstructs an efficient working culture. And it’s not like employees don’t realise they’re being tracked and monitored - we’re well aware that it goes on. It’s not necessarily “sneaky” behaviour. Managers simply need to know exactly what’s going on within their teams. But if in doing so, you need to employ a wealth of drastic and data-heavy measures, then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself whether you recruited the right people in the first place.
So how should we proceed, beyond attempting to be “subtle” about employee monitoring? Simply put, it’s about being open and honest with your team. Ask them what they’re up to. Find out if they need support. Discover the reason why they’re struggling to hit a deadline. Try to apply a little humanity to the situation.
On the whole, machines make our lives significantly easier. We can’t deny it. There are some aspects, whatever, that just need a human touch. A central part of being a manager is to manage your people. If you’re spending all your time analysing the data from all these different ways of monitoring, then you’re not actually on the shop floor managing your team. Suddenly, you’re just the eye in the sky, keeping a close watch on everyone’s productivity.
So, how can you combine the usefulness of tech with the human aspect that garners trust and respect within your team? This is where a team management tool like Wundamail comes in. You ask your team a daily question, “what have you done today?” for example, and they email back with their response. All the responses are then compiled for you to review and reply to, if you wish, before being sent out to everyone in the team in only singular email. There’s no integration, no extra passwords, and it allows you to overtly monitor your team in a way that’s open, honest, and definitely not sneaky. It also allows everyone else to see what’s going on, so the element of accountability and collaboration within your team helps to further drive efficiencies - no hacking or keystroke counters necessary.
People are people, and wish to be treated as such. The further technology advances, the more reason we’ll have to rely on it, and we risk losing the benefit human interaction can bring. Wundamail bridges this gap to give managers the best of both worlds, and prevents employees feeling micromanaged, or even spied on. Put simply, it’s how you manage teams in 2019.