Over the past year, the majority of the UK workforce has been made to work remotely; which most likely means working from the comfort of their own homes. As a result of working from home, professionals do not have to worry about rushing in before a commute, having to queue up for hours to get their lunch or walk to the nearest Starbucks for a Coffee. There is an element of freedom.
Apart from daily/ weekly Zoom calls and meetings, your colleagues and employer won’t have access to your remote working space or an idea of your daily routine, besides working. Could this change? Will remote workers be monitored in the future?
Call centre company, Teleperformance, have come under the microscope recently, as they allegedly announced that thousands of their staff face being monitored by a webcam to see whether they are eating or looking at their phones whilst working. This came after being investigated by The Guardian ; where the newspaper discovered the plans of the company to monitor their staff.
Teleperformance employs approximately 38,000 members of staff in 34 different countries and has clients in the UK which include: NHS Digital, Royal Navy and the Student Loans Company.
Staff were told that while these cameras would be used for meetings and training purposes, they will also be used to spot any “infractions” committed by staff during working hours. The cameras will be connected to an AI system which would scan for any breaches in rules. If breaches were detected, a photo would be taken, sent to the manager and stored for 20 days.
This information was made public after Teleperformance told UK employees that cameras, which includes the AI-based scanning system, would be installed next month for staff that wish to continue to work from home.
They have since confirmed that staff will not randomly be monitored and were also “extremely disappointed” that the news had reached the media and it was considered gross misconduct. The webcams were instead there to tackle “lack of team engagement” and “respond to overwhelming concerns of isolation”.
Could Staff Be Monitored From Home?
As the future remains uncertain over whether staff will be working in offices full time, this news could pose a worry to workers that wish to work from home in the future.
Working from home does have it’s perks, but there are also some barriers which people may struggle with. Some workers may have responsibilities parenting children or looking after family members – all this can get in the way of working remotely comfortably and effectively.
The backlash this apparent attempt to breach privacy has received, is not likely to strengthen any organisations bid to monitor staff at home.
Andy McDonald, the shadow employment rights minister, said that particularly when companies were relying on home-working staff to keep them going, it was wrong to impose “invasive surveillance that will erode their rights to privacy and create a climate of fear and mistrust”.