Sunday, September 13, 2009

Employers spying on staff: Big Brother bosses | The Economist

A timely security/privacy reality check – excerpts:

The fastest-growing area is network forensic software, which lets firms record and playback exactly what happens on employees’ computer screens, and can even record keystrokes.

Gartner’s John Pescatore says the software is “like a giant TiVo” or “a security camera pointed at a till in a bank”. This niche doubled in value between 2007 and 2008, from $25m to $50m. Mr Pescatore predicts that the market will jump another 50% by the end of this year.


Monitoring software can also be used to spot “presenteeism”—employees who turn up in the office every day but then do nothing. Peter Cheese, managing director of Accenture’s talent and organisation practice, says that presenteeism has become more common as communications break down between managers and staff in firms that are under financial stress.

I believe this sort of monitoring is inevitably going to expand to include, e.g., the amount of time spent in meetings and the effectiveness of those meetings (time invested relative to progress against stated goals etc.). I suppose relatively useless meetings could be considered a form of group presenteeism (note that I'm referring to going to work and doing nothing (purposefully productive), not going to work when ill, which is another definition of "presenteeism" -- the primary definition, at this point).

Employers spying on staff: Big Brother bosses The Economist

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