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Surveillance Software to Monitor Home Workers Includes Screenshot Technology

Surveillance Software to Monitor Home Workers Includes Screenshot Technology
29 September 2020 | Updated 25 November 2020
 

Employers’ use of surveillance software, known as bossware, appears to be on the up, with off-the-shelf products able to track keystrokes, mouse movements and even take random screenshots throughout the day.

Online business owner Shibu Philip told the BBC that he uses such software to track seven remote workers based in India:

"By looking at screenshots and how much time everyone is taking on certain tasks, I know if they're following procedures.”

 

“We should both celebrate and be cautious of technology for its ability to support people and business through this crisis.” 

–Ed Houghton

Head of Research and Thought Leadership, CIPD

 

Screenshots, URL Activity and Keyboard and Mouse Usage

 

Hubstaff, Philip’s software solution of choice and one of many on the market, is a productivity tracking programme that has optional screenshotting as one of its features. 

Random screen capture can be customised by employers, and set to once, twice, or three times per ten minutes. Hubstaff’s website states that around two-thirds of businesses monitor their employees’ internet use.

Such monitoring is commonplace in compliance-heavy environments such as financial institutions and trading floors, but with working from home set to be the norm for the foreseeable few months, workplace monitoring of this type may gain momentum in other sectors.

Ed Houghton, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)'s Head of Research and Thought Leadership, wrote back in May that organisations must exercise caution when installing such software:

“While technology may present the opportunity for monitoring and surveillance, it’s clear that the benefits must be weighed up against the drawbacks. Clearly technology is currently connecting workers and enabling work for many in a way that even a decade ago was not possible.

“Organisations that would have stopped operations are today keeping their lights on, even if those lights are in the homes of workers and not the office.

“We should both celebrate and be cautious of technology for its ability to support people and business through this crisis.” 

Picture: a graphic showing a person working on a laptop, with a security camera facing them

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 29 September 2020

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