October 5, 2020
The majority of people are not aware of the nature of new remote work monitoring technology, but do not like the idea of it. According to a new polling commissioned by the Prospect union, around two thirds of workers are uncomfortable with workplace tech like keystroke and camera monitoring and wearables being used when working remotely.
Although the union does not make the methodology available, the poll looked into different forms of monitoring technology which are already in use across the UK and are being actively considered for more widespread introduction by employers. It claims that:
- Only a third (32 percent) of workers had heard of keystroke monitoring and camera tracking technologies, while a quarter (26 percent) had heard of electronic tracing
- Two thirds (66 percent) of workers would be uncomfortable with keystroke monitoring with nearly half (44 percent) very uncomfortable
- Four in five (80 percent) workers would be uncomfortable with camera monitoring with 64 percent very uncomfortable
- Three quarters (74 percent) of workers would be uncomfortable with electronic tracking with wearables with 61 percent very uncomfortable
The polling also suggests that around half (48 percent) of workers said that they thought that introducing monitoring software for remote work would damage their relationship with their manager- this rose to 62 percent among younger workers.
Having your keystrokes monitored while working in your home may sound like dystopia, but there are few controls in place to prevent it becoming a reality
There was some evidence that more consultation could reduce the level of apprehension around these technologies, with one third (32 percent) of remote workers saying they would be more comfortable with monitoring software if trade unions or worker representatives were involved in conversations about how it would be implemented. This number rose to 36 percent of young workers.
Prospect has been calling for businesses that are thinking of introducing such technology to consult with their workforce, and for proper regulations about the use of monitoring software, including a ‘right to disconnect’.
Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “Having your every keystroke or app usage monitored by your boss while you are working in your own home may sound like a dystopia- but there are precious few controls in place to prevent it becoming a daily reality for millions of workers across Britain.
“Employers are beginning to think about how their workplace will operate in the future, including a far greater prevalence of blended working and exclusive working from home. As the new reality takes hold we will see more and more debates about the use of technology to monitor workers – the evidence suggests the workforce are simply not ready for it.
“The changes have been thrown into sharp relief by the new government advice advocating a further six months of remote working. If government is going to tell workers to stay home, then it needs to get serious about this issue, by bringing businesses, unions, and tech companies together to discuss what modern workers’ rights should look like in this new world of work.”