The Hidden World of Workplace Surveillance

Published by Berkan K. on February 21

book 3 min read

In recent years, the concept of workplace surveillance has gained more and more popularity, seen in warehouses and companies like Amazon to a more nuanced and pervasive monitoring within the office environments. This shift has introduced a new paradigm where almost every digital interaction can be logged and analyzed by the employers. The implications of such monitoring practices are not only invasive but they also touch upon the aspects of productivity, well-being, and behavior in the workplace.

The Danish Engineers’ Association (IDA) has collected a list of software solutions utilized for employee surveillance, partly based on the report ”Digital Surveillance and Control at the Workplace” by Wolfie Christl of Cracked Labs, and reports from the UK’s Trade Union Congress (TUC). Additionally, the American organization Coworker has launched a searchable database, Bossware and Employment Tech, cataloging over 550 tech products designed to monitor employees’ productivity, well-being, or digital behavior.

Below is an overview of some notable surveillance technologies mentioned by them:

  • Forcepoint: This software claims to assess if employees are facing financial difficulties, their work performance, potential resignation plans, communication patterns, and overall mood through comprehensive device and program usage monitoring, including emails, calls, website visits and even physical office access.
  • Celonis: Aimed at evaluating employee activities through operational systems like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Salesforce, Celonis records keystrokes, mouse clicks, and clipboard contents, purportedly to uncover inefficiencies and optimize productivity.
  • Humanyze: Marketing a wearable device akin to a smart access card, Humanyze analyzes behavioral data to calculate an “organizational health score,” measuring efficiency through metrics like performance and adaptability, using sensors to monitor speech, social interactions, and movements.
  • Prewave: An Austrian startup offering software to assess and monitor employee activities on social media, Prewave can predict job-switching intentions and evaluate outside-of-work behaviors that may impact company reputation or operational continuity.
  • Performetric: Initially developed for esports, this software aims to manage mental fatigue among call center employees by evaluating typing and mouse movement patterns to prevent burnout and enhance performance.
  • Hubstaff: A tool that measures activity levels through time tracking and background monitoring, Hubstaff provides insights into app and website usage, capable of taking screenshots to ensure accountability.
  • Occupeye: Utilizing sensors and wireless technology, Occupeye helps optimize workspace utilization by monitoring the presence and movement of devices within an office, contributing to energy savings and efficient space usage.
  • Teramind: Offering real-time insights into employee computer activities, Teramind can record and replay actions, monitor communications, and provide productivity analyses to alert employers about unproductive behaviors.
  • InterGuard: This product enables real-time monitoring of productivity details, capturing screenshots and video recordings of online activities, and can be configured to alert on specific actions or words.
  • Microsoft 365 and Viva: Encompassing a range of tools for work management and analysis, these products store data on activities, communication, and behavior in the cloud, offering insights into meeting hours, email time, and network analysis to optimize workplace efficiency and collaboration.

The rise of these technologies shows a growing trend towards monitoring of employee behavior and productivity. While some argue that such measures can enhance efficiency and safety, they also raise significant privacy and ethical concerns. As the line between work and personal space thins in the digital world, the debate over the extent and nature of workplace surveillance is likely to intensify, creating critical questions about trust, autonomy, and the future of work in an increasingly monitored world.

Hello, I'm a 23-year-old Software Engineer based in Denmark, specializing in Cybersecurity and
Fullstack Development.

Beyond programming, I enjoy sharing my journey and insights through writing, aiming to contribute to the tech community and inspire like-minded professionals.

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