Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The accusations are troubling.

Now, the company is suing former Tesla process engineer Martin Tripp, alleging, among other things, that he hacked gigabytes of Tesla's confidential information and trade secrets and sent them to third parties, including members of the media.

It's worth wondering, however, just how closely companies track their employees' digital lives.

After all, you, too, might have disgruntled employees. You might even be one.

If you're the former, do you wish you were tracking the unhappy -- or, indeed, everyone -- even more than you are? If you're the latter, have you any idea how much you're already being tracked?

A piece of never-before published research that tries to answer these questions has just descended upon my laptop. Perfectly legally, you understand.

It suggests there's a vast gulf between what companies know about employees' digital behavior and what employees think they know.

The research, performed on behalf of digital transformation company Alfresco, asked more than 300 IT professionals working in companies with more than 500 employees about what those companies are really doing behind the digital scenes.

98 percent admitted that they do, indeed, monitor their employees' digital behavior.

A mere 11 percent of employees, say the IT people, are aware of just how deeply companies dig. 

This matched with the 11 percent of employees who have no idea that their companies spy on them at all.

87 percent of companies apparently track their employees' email.

70 percent grab their whole web browser history. 55 percent spy on Slack, Chatter, and anything else that the company provided to "help" employees communicate.

Here's something that might surprise one or two people.

41 percent of companies creep in on voicemails. 34 percent look through the peephole to observe LinkedIn and Facebook activity.

Please stay calm when I tell you why the vast majority of these companies don't tell employees the extent of their abject nosiness. 

76 percent said that they fear the reaction.

No! Really? Why? 

11 percent admitted they knew employees would be "horrified."

It's currently unknown exactly how Tesla might have caught its alleged saboteur/claimed whistleblower.

However, the lawsuit offers: "After Tripp initially stated that no misconduct had occurred, Tesla investigators confronted him with evidence to the contrary."

The company also says Tesla takes "reasonable measures" to ensure its proprietary information is kept confidential.

Few would be surprised, I suspect, if as part of its "reasonable measures" Tesla wasn't monitoring at least some of employees' digital exploits.

Indeed, Tesla offers quite some detail in its allegations.

It accuses Tripp of "knowingly, willfully and without authorization modifying, disclosing, using, transferring, taking, retaining possession of, copying, obtaining or attempting to obtain access to, and permitting access to data, programs, and supporting documents that exist inside or outside Tesla's computers, computer systems, and/or computer networks."

So before you even think of eking out your frustrations at work, before you even send that Slack message to a work "friend" about how much you loathe your boss, please think carefully.

Someone might be watching you.

Published on: Jun 21, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.