The increase in remote working has also led to an increase in employee monitoring by employers.
Two studies carried out in the US have found that employees who were being monitored were more likely to cheat when asked to perform a set task when allowed to do so, compared to those who were not being monitored.
They also found that when employees were monitored by their employers they were much more likely to take unscheduled breaks, ignore instructions, damage workplace property, steal office supplies, and intentionally work at a slower rate, in addition to other rule-breaking behaviours.
The studies found that monitoring was more likely to work where employees perceived that they were being treated fairly. Suggestions to increase fairness from the authors of the studies include giving employees "visibility and input into when surveillance is appropriate and when it should be off-limits — and then stick to those boundaries," instead of "unilaterally implementing a monitoring system."
In the UK, data protection laws mean that employees should always be made aware in the employee privacy notice if they are to be monitored and for what purpose. Any monitoring and collection of data should be necessary and proportionate.
These studies carried out in the US are interesting because they suggest that being transparent about employee monitoring will increase its effectiveness and indeed prevent it from having a negative impact, in addition to ensuring in the UK that data protection laws are adhered to.
If you are considering introducing employee monitoring or have done so but are unsure if you have complied with data protection laws, please get in touch and we can support you.