Which Tech Employers are Monitoring You Excessively?

Even as tools for monitoring employees proliferate, most tech pros don’t think their employers are excessive when it comes to observing workplace behavior, according to a new survey by Blind.

Only 25.8 percent of respondents said their companies went to “unreasonable lengths” to monitor employees. And that’s a good thing, as excessive surveillance tends to make employees paranoid and unproductive.

That being said, some tech firms engaged in higher levels of monitoring, according to their employees. For example, some 54.12 percent of Booking.com employees felt unfairly monitored—the highest in Blind’s survey. By comparison, only 4.69 percent of Spotify employees felt the same.

LinkedIn (10.78 percent), Adobe (11.54 percent), Airbnb (14.81 percent), and Nvidia (16.07 percent) also boasted relatively low rates of over-the-top overwatch. (This Blind survey had 6,707 respondents, and ran from Sept. 20 through Oct. 1.)

Tech pundits have predicted for years that employer monitoring of employee activities will only increase. New tools are capable of analyzing individual and team performance down to the minute; for example, Google’s Work Insights platform allows managers to monitor the team deployment and usage of G Suite apps such as Sheets, Calendar, and Gmail. If employees aren’t logging into email or calendar, management is going to find out about it really quickly.

Other companies have attempted to boost employee productivity by blocking access to certain sites and social networks. A recent Spiceworks survey found that, in companies that place no restrictions on employee access to the web, roughly 58 percent of workers spend at least four hours per week on websites unrelated to their job. That number drops to 30 percent in companies that block social media. Those kinds of numbers are powerful incentives for companies to institute some combination of monitoring and bans, even as employees grumble about increasingly Orwellian surveillance.

There is a limit to paranoid cultures, however. Another Blind survey found that “poor leadership” and toxic culture lead to employee burnout. Toxic culture can sometimes stem from mistrust and paranoia among management and staff. Employees are generally fine with being monitored, but there are always limits to how much they’ll tolerate before negative feelings set in.

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