It's 2019. Does your boss know where you are?

A study last year said 98 percent of employers monitor their employees in some way. Another study put the number at 94 percent.

If you're the boss, this is probably not news to you. Frankly, it probably shouldn't be news to most employees either. But the scope and variety of ways some employers say they're tracking their employees is surprising when you see it all listed.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal recently, Sarah Krouse and Te-Ping Chen laid out some of how it's done, often using tools from companies most employees have probably never heard of, like ActivTrak, Bunch.ai, Ambit Analytics, Teramind, Humanyze, and 8x8 Inc.

Some employers said they use the data they generate only in the aggreate, or to improve company-wide productivity. Other said they hope to identify workers who might have mental health needs (including prevention of suicide).

But in other cases, individual monitoring is par for the course. At least one company executive is described in the Journal as starting eachy day "by checking which websites his colleagues have browsed.

Here are 19 different questions employers are asking about their employees in 2019 -- and using monitoring to answer, often without the employees even realizing it:

  1. How quickly does this employee respond to emails?
  2. How quickly do other people respond to this employee's emails? (Assumption: the faster other people respond, the more important they perceive you to be.)
  3. What data and appointments are on the employee's calendars, and how often does her or she check them?
  4. How much time does this employee spend logged into work systems when they are not at work?
  5. How fast does this employee normally speak, and loud his or her voice? (In one case, employees voluntarily wore badges equipped with microphones.)
  6. What do these employees' interactions tell us about which clients are most important to him or her? (This data is intended to let companies replace employees smoothly, by passing their most important clients to other employees.)
  7. What documents did this employee try to open or print? (Intended to detect corporate espionage or other unauthorized access.)
  8. How long are the employee's lunch breaks?
  9. How fit and healthy is the employee?
  10. How often is the employee sitting at his or her assigned workspace?
  11. Where does the employee physically go in the office when he or she is not at an assigned workspace?
  12. What websites does the employee visit? (In some cases, this is monitored both during and outside of work hours. Some monitoring software sends url information 60 times an hour, with screenshots)
  13. How often does the employee wash his or her hands? (Data was being gathered for nurses in one case.)
  14. How does the employee's productivity ebb or flow during the day? (One company said it realized employees did about three hours of actual work during each eight-hour shift.)
  15. How fast does the employee drive? (Data collected by UPS and Uber, reportedly)
  16. What is the sender information, recepient information and timestamp of every email the employee sends or receives? (In this case, the company insisted it wasn't reading the contents of every email.) 
  17. Does the employee interact more often with people inside or outside your company. (This could predict whether employees are likely to be looking to move on.)
  18. How often does the employee "talk over" colleagues in meetings?
  19. How "chipper" is the employee's team Slack channel? 

"If someone's browsing ESPN.com for five minutes, we'll see that," one employer told the Journal. "It tracks every little thing that happens on the computer from the time it's fired up."

Published on: Jul 23, 2019
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