Telecommuting Is Becoming Common – and more Closely MonitoredSue Shellenbarger from The Wall Street Journal reported on July 11th that computer monitoring programs, which are used to track the use of computers by home workers, are growing increasingly sophisticated and coming into widespread use for supervision of telecommuters. Working from home is becoming more like being in an office.
- Workers generally know if their home computer is monitored.
- Some bosses track projects and schedule meetings on calendars shared with workers.
- "Virtual face time" may be required by email, instant messaging or phone calls.
- Fewer than ten percent of home computers used for work employ security monitoring, but a research firm estimates sixty percent will use monitoring by 2015. These programs secure data and comply with government rules, but they also generate a lot of data about computer use.
- Attorneys say employers should state if employee computer use is monitored and should track only business-related activities.
- Tracking productivity and preventing leaks is permitted.
- Tracking time spent on client projects is a common use of the monitoring programs.
- Monitoring programs can spot people who need help from the boss; the programs can also record people who are goofing off. One popular computer use report deals with frequent Facebook users.
- One supervisor noted an at-home employee had a work record lagging others. The program revealed that this employee was using a lot of time to write "Word" documents, which were not required on the job. It turned out that that employee was spending most of her workday doing homework for a master’s degree – and she was let go.
- The number of corporate employees working at home at least one day a month has been increasing by 23% a year since 2007, on average, and has reached 22.8 million workers last year, a market-research vice president notes. The biggest increase is among those only working from home one or two days a month.
- It’s possible for employees to work from home each Friday or to leave the office early to escort children home from school and then complete the day’s work after dinner. Employers can track workers by focusing on accomplishments rather than time, as well as tracking videoconferencing, entries on shared calendars, email traffic and instant messaging.
- Supervisors can hold weekly team meetings and discuss projects and deadlines, giving out assignments and final deadlines. Shared calendars and conference calls are common. The ultimate judge isn’t the regularity of clock hours, but the attainment of timely high quality results.