More and more companies are observing the WFH of their remote employees on camera – but it costs them a lot of time

The panopticon may be more real than we think.

Earlier this month, 1,000 executives surveyed at companies operating primarily on a remote or hybrid schedule. The vast majority of them admitted to having monitored their employees in some way.

Possibly highly dystopian: More than a third required employees to have a monitored live video feed. Three out of four of these companies have fired employees based on what they found out about their surveillance software. A similar number – 70% – said employees had quit because they refused to be monitored.

Companies stick to their decisions; 97% believe that using the software has increased employee productivity. But only 10% of those companies admitted they use the monitoring software to encourage a return to in-person work.

The boom in employee monitoring coincided with the pandemic as many industries first transitioned to a remote-first model. Concerned productivity would falter at home and hurting their bottom line, leader fought to lure workers back into office, and some turned to monitoring workers who insisted on staying at home. Almost 40% of companies surveyed by said they first started monitoring workers in 2020. 20% started monitoring within the last year.

The survey reiterates previous findings that a shocking 80% of large private employers in the US track productivityas the New York Times reported last year, from tracking keyboard movements to active time online. The results could lead to missed bonuses or promotions.

“Our survey shows that there are still organizations struggling to manage their workforce in the wake of the pandemic,” wrote Stacie Haller, senior careers advisor at “The focus on hours worked versus actual productivity … appears to reflect the challenges management teams face.”

Resentment inhibits innovation

Despite employers’ belief that monitoring remote workers can make them more productive, they’re only fueling paranoia backfires on their efforts.

When asked by how they use their monitoring software, most companies responded that they monitor web browsing and application usage (62%) and block certain content and apps (49%). But a surprisingly high percentage – 37% – require workers to be in front of the camera all day. In this group, nearly all (93%) say they monitor the live video feed, often four or more hours a day. Of course, that doesn’t occur to many employees who end up resigning.

Actually supervised workers tend to be less loyal and try less because of their fundamental distrust of their company. In 2021, David Welsh, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, conducted a study Employees who were under the watchful eye of their bosses were more likely to take unauthorized breaks and work slower. The workers “felt controlled and felt less personally accountable because of the way they were being monitored,” he said said the BBC.

In fact,’s study found that remote workers who are being monitored typically spend two to three hours of the workday unproductively, with some time devoted to non-work-related activities such as browsing the web or social media. “But I want to point out that even with internal work, two hours can easily be wasted,” Haller said. “However, internal staff are not monitored in the same way. It’s not surprising that many employees don’t want to feel like Big Brother is watching them on a daily basis.”

As more managers trust their employees’ ability to work unsupervised, “hopefully software monitoring will become obsolete,” Haller said.

Besides that, despite all the espionage and resentment Hybrid workers are the most productive, committed and optimistic about their work and its impact. Maybe the best thing bosses can do is leave their people alone.

This story was originally featured on

More from Fortuna:

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *