A Dangerous Direction for Electronic Employee Monitoring
In the past, employee monitoring was relatively straightforward. You either had cameras or you didn’t. You either required employees to check in with their supervisors or you let them punch their own cards and move to their shifts.
These days, things are a little more complicated. Northern Arizona University is implementing a system by which class attendance is tracked by scanning students as they walk into a classroom. The article is a little light on detail, but from what I can piece together, student ID cards will be implanted with an RFID chip (similar to the technology used in current US passports) which can be read from a distance. Thus, when you walk in the door, a sensor detects your student ID and automatically registers your attendance.
How long until this tech enters the workforce?
Remember, if your location can be tracked, that opens up a lot more options for monitoring. Not only will your employer know when you got in this morning, but also how many times you got up from your chair, how many times you went to grab some coffee, how long to the second you spent on break, when you typically go to the restroom… the list goes on and on.
There’s some research on employee monitoring in industrial/organizational psychology, but it’s mostly focused on e-mail monitoring and the use of cameras. What happens when employees can quickly and easily record everything you do, down to the total number of minutes you spend leaning back in your chair to relax? At what precise point do employers have an ethical responsibility to respect the privacy of their employees?
And on the other hand, what an awesomely powerful source of data for research!
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