Electronic monitoring is not a new thing, nor one that only affects the workplace. From closed circuit television (CCTV) in stores and down many streets, to similar surveillance in offices everywhere, we are constantly being monitored in all aspects of our lives.

Why and how employers are monitoring employees

Many employers and organisations tend to perform similar tactics when it comes to monitoring (Emma Anderson, 2014), but I would like to focus on my current and previous employer in order to draw a common ground and paint a picture as to where and how we as employees are being electronically monitored.

There are a few different ways that I have noticed to be monitored, and given that I work as a software engineer, I have also done my own separate research as to what processes and tools are used to monitor me and my colleagues.

  • Email
  • Internet browsing
  • Instant messaging / chat
  • Software usage
  • Time in the office
  • Times passed through security doors
  • Time at desk as opposed to meeting rooms / hot desking
  • Printed material
  • Screen recording
  • How effective are these methods

    I think generally speaking, this is quite effective as there is no real way to get around anything, due to:

  • Always on the corporate network
  • Do not have admin access / root, so cannot install or uninstall anything
    Including monitoring software, VPN software, etc
  • Always have to use an access pass to gain entry or exit to floors, sections of the building
  • Potential impact of workplace monitoring

    I have worked in a range of companies, some which as described above, use extensive monitoring techniques, to small companies that do not perform any monitoring or blocking of internet resources, due to the size and technical knowhow of the company at the time.

    I have personally found that having more freedom electronically at the workplace makes me want to work harder and outperform the likes of my colleagues (ACAS, n.d.), as opposed to monitoring me so as to force me to only be able to perform work tasks 100 percent of the time.

    Carrying out work duties continually also makes me quite fatigued and drained at the thought of only continuing a single action for what feels like countless hours at the time.

    Electronic monitoring can benefit to an organisation and even its employees.

    Moreover, the actual usage and resulting intrusion into personal privacy can also have adverse affects (Thomas Jackson, Nilpa Shah, Ray Dawson, Darren Wilson, 2001)

    It is often difficult for organisations to find a balance.


    Emma Anderson (2014) The Evolution Of Electronic Monitoring Devices [Online] NPR.org, Available from: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/22/314874232/the-history-of-electronic-monitoring-devices (Accessed on 1st September 2017)

    ACAS (n.d.) Being monitored at work [Online] ACAS.org.uk, Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5721 (Accessed on 3rd September 2017)

    Thomas Jackson, Nilpa Shah, Ray Dawson, Darren Wilson (2001) The ethics of electronic monitoring within the workplace [Online] DSpace.Lboro.ac.uk, Available from: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/497/3/SQM%2525202001.pdf (Accessed on 1st September 2017)