Big Employer is watching you: the rising trend of employee surveillance

Employers are increasingly using a number of tools to monitor and surveil their employees’ work habits.


November 8, 2017

The tech industry has an unhealthy obsession with “optimizing” productivity — hell-bent on fortifying their focus by gulping pills, fasting, and tinkering with their sleep schedules.

So, it should come as no surprise that employers are increasingly using a number of tools to monitor and surveil their employees’ work habits.

Noticed you’re slacking off. You good?

The Guardian reports that American companies “aren’t required by law” to admit they’re watching you — and, frankly, it’s never been easier.

There’s Crossover, a tool that monitors focus by taking photos of remote workers every 10 minutes through a webcam. There’s Wiretap, which can be used to covertly monitor conversations on Slack. Then, there’s Tetramind, which alerts managers when employees are switching between applications too much (a sign of distraction).

Should these not suffice, there are other software programs that track websites visited, measure emails, and keep track of keystrokes.

Basically, your boss doesn’t trust you

There’s kind of a creepy overlord aspect to all of this — and the founders of these technologies seem to embrace it with open arms: “It truly is Big Brother watching you,” the CEO of Qumram bragged of his own employer-voyeur creation.

“If you’re a parent and you have a teenage son or daughter coming home late, not doing their homework, you might wonder what they’re doing. It’s the same as employees,” another founder told The Guardian.

These technologies seem to rest on a structure of inherent distrust — the notion that workers are incapable of managing their own time. And that’s just… one sec — gotta check Facebook.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.