The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Saturday, 11 July

PwC's Facial Recognition Tools To Monitor Home Workers

PwC's Facial Recognition Tools To Monitor Home Workers
16th June 2020
 

PwC faces criticism after developing facial recognition tools to track employees, but they say that the tech has been developed to support an existing compliance environment in financial industries. 

According to the report by Financial News, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ software is intended to be used to monitor employees’ absences from their computer screens, including bathroom breaks. It works through a computer webcam and would require a written explanation for long screen absences.

George Stylianides, a partner in PwC’s financial services group, told Financial News that the technology is to help finance companies meet compliance requirements during the pandemic, when much of the workforce is working remotely.

ThisWeekinFM spoke to a member of the corporate affairs team at PwC, who reinforced that this technology is not intrusive and is for a workforce normally working from secure trading floors. Rather than being a general remote working solution, it is intended as a security extension for investment banks and asset managers, who already operate under very strict Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidelines.

PwC is one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, and the second-largest professional services firm network in the world.

 

“We expect firms to consider what steps they could take to mitigate outstanding risks if they are unable to comply with their obligations to record voice communications. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective review once the situation has been resolved.”

–Financial Conduct Authority Guidance

 

Supporting the Compliance Environment Required for Traders and Front Office Staff

 

Whilst the financial services sector is deploying its workforce remotely, it’s clear that privacy and security measures still need to be adhered to. Particularly with regards to employees who are usually working from a secure trading floor, the same high level of security still needs to be provided.

The FCA is urging such business to continue with the expected reporting and compliance, stating that: “We expect firms to consider what steps they could take to mitigate outstanding risks if they are unable to comply with their obligations to record voice communications. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective review once the situation has been resolved.”

In response, PwC has built an early stage prototype aimed at helping financial institutions to continue meeting these guidelines, including the use of facial recognition technology. 

“This technology was developed specifically to support the compliance environment required for traders and front office staff. Crucially it is designed to support those adhering to the regulations while remote working in the least intrusive, pragmatic way.”

–PwC Spokesperson

PwC was keen to emphasise that such solutions are not an indication of intrusion and that the system can even be calibrated to individual working routines.

A PwC spokesperson said: "This technology was developed specifically to support the compliance environment required for traders and front office staff. Crucially it is designed to support those adhering to the regulations while remote working in the least intrusive, pragmatic way.”

 

Facial Recognition Tools to Monitor Home Workers is “Not The Answer.”

 

Angela Love, Director at Active Workplace Solutions, a company which specialises in workplace change, has commented that using “facial recognition tools on an already confused and anxious workforce is not the answer.”

Love instead highlights the importance of employees feeling valued and trusted throughout this difficult time:

“COVID-19 has presented new challenges in managing unseen workers. However, facial recognition tools to monitor home workers is not the answer. I would never advocate such an approach. 

“This simply screams ‘we don’t trust you’. If an employee believes they aren’t trusted then a business will never get the best out of them."

However, in the highly regulated world of finance and trading, the use of facial recognition technology could simply be considered as an additional "new normal" measure for a workforce already very acclimatised to a high level of workplace monitoring.  

Picture: A graphic image representing facial recognition software, showing a person's face being scanned

Article written by Ella Tansley – published 16th June 2020

Share



Related Articles

Study Shows Live Chat Increase During Lockdown

Live chat has become the communication method of choice for business enquiries during lockdown. With face to face customer service on pause and many large...

 Read Full Article
Analysing Short and Long-Term Workplace Trends After COVID-19

Workplace trends have undoubtedly shifted during the COVID-19 lockdown, but which will stand the test of time and become part of our working culture? Phil Oram, is a...

 Read Full Article
IWFM Urges Chancellor To Help Workers Worried About Costly Commute

IWFM believes that Rishi Sunak should announce a cut-price season ticket across the railways, and a cut to fuel duty in his speech today. This would help the 43 per...

 Read Full Article
How Will Catering Change When we Return to our Offices?

Concerned about how post-lockdown office catering might work? Dean Kennett from Fooditude tells us how it can be done safely. Dean Kennett is the founder of Fooditude,...

 Read Full Article
49 Per Cent of Commuters Plan to use Their Own Vehicle, as Travel Habits Shift

COVID-19 will revolutionise the way we commute, stemming from a lack of confidence in public transport, says Addison Lee. Research shows that 6 out of 10 London...

 Read Full Article
Wearing Headphones in the Office – Acceptable or Not?

Working in headphones is the norm for many individuals and industries, but others feel that it shuts down communication and prevents true collaborative...

 Read Full Article
The Workplace is Here to Stay, says Oktra

The world has learned a lot about the way we work in the last few months. Oktra managing director Martin Reeves discusses what is certain about the future of...

 Read Full Article
Workplace Risk Assessments, Dealing with Threatening Behaviour and Employee Wellbeing

Conducting a risk assessment is not just about adjusting furniture to fit in with social distancing or stricter cleaning measures. Louise Hosking, Vice President of IOSH,...

 Read Full Article
Introducing the TWinFM COVID-19 Resources Section

Guidelines to help businesses to re-open and operate safely have been published by the government, but what products and services are available to facilitate...

 Read Full Article
The Implications of Test and Trace for Employers

Following Test and Trace instructions has been described as "civic duty", however, the current voluntary nature of the scheme does provide some challenges for...

 Read Full Article