Can Your Boss Still Watch You Even When You Work From Home?

As more companies are becoming web-based, an increasing number of people are opting to work remotely as opposed to going to the office. However, the notion of going to work by plugging into the cloud instead of commuting to a high-rise office building has come full circle in some ways, owing to certain companies using computer-monitoring software to check in on employees.

The programs enable the bosses to procure summaries of what websites an employee visits during a certain time of day and for how long. One such program, InterGuard, made by Los Angeles-based company Awareness Technologies, is popular with employers in the financial services and health care industries as it enables bosses to track productivity, prevent leaks and comply with security regulations.

Although some people believe that such measures are intrusive being that these programs generate a great deal personal information on employees’ online behavior, many supervisors are aware that a number of employment lawyers have advised them to let their subordinates know that they are being monitored and to track only business-related activities. By the same token, a number of workers do not mind that their online movements are being tracked. “It doesn’t bother me,” says Amy Johnson of Dixon, Illinois, who works from home as a fingerprint technician. “I’m not doing anything I shouldn’t be doing.”

Indeed, many bosses fall back on the monitoring software when it alerts them of an employee’s reduced output. Celeste O’Keefe, who runs Dancel, a litigation-support services provider for attorneys says that she doesn’t use the software to snoop on individuals. However, when she discovered through using monitoring software that an employee had fallen behind on account of studying for a Master’s degree on company time, “I had to let her go. I couldn’t say, ‘Oh, I’ll trust you again.’”

According to IDC, a market research company based in Framingham, Massachusetts, the number of corporate employees who work from home at least one day a month has been rising 23% a year since 2007, on average, to 22.8 million last year. As of now, fewer than ten per cent of employers use computer monitoring software, but Gartner, Incorporated, a tech research company based in Stamford, Connecticut predicts that sixty per cent of employers will use some form of computer monitoring software by 2015.

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