1 in 3 employers use Live cameras to keep tabs on remote workers: Survey

More than one in three employers (37%) use live camera feeds to keep tabs on remote workers, prompting some to quit while others get fired, a new survey found

Work from home, WFH, BPM, IT industry, tech, jobs, work, gender

By Matthew Boyle

More than one in three employers (37%) use live camera feeds to keep tabs on remote workers, prompting some to quit while others get fired, a new survey found.
Just about every company that has remote workers uses some form of monitoring, the survey of 1,000 business leaders from career site found, with the most common tactics being monitoring web browsing and blocking certain apps or content. Most companies have either terminated staff or have had workers voluntarily leave due to the surveillance. Still, just about all of those surveyed strongly or somewhat believe that the monitoring has improved productivity, despite research showing that it can prompt disruptive behavior.


“There are still organizations struggling to manage their workforce post-pandemic. They are freaking out, buying software and monitoring employees, because they don’t know how to manage a remote workforce,” Stacie Haller,’s chief career adviser, said. “It’s the older generation of managers who are not adjusting.” 
While employees might be on camera all day, there’s no guarantee that anyone’s watching them. Nearly half of those surveyed said that those live feeds are monitored for fours or less per day. Just 6% said they were checking on their staff for eight hours or more. About six in ten of the respondents worked in human resources, Haller said, with the rest in partner or leadership positions. Most of the companies surveyed had between 100 and 500 workers. 

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The rise in monitoring workers stems from a desire to keep tabs on performance when millions of white-collar workers suddenly went remote when the pandemic hit, but it also reflects a lack of trust on the part of some managers that their workers can get stuff done while not in an office. In the survey, about one-third of companies said their employees spend three hours per day or more on non-work activities. Research has also found monitoring workers makes them feel less responsibility for their own conduct, making them more likely to break the rules.
“It is understandable that they want to know what their employees are up to as they adjust to this new era of remote work,” said David Welsh, an associate professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, whose research focuses on unethical workplace behavior. “However, what these organizations often fail to realize is that this monitoring comes with a psychological cost. Our research suggests that such practices will inhibit the sense of control that employees feel over their work and may lead them to act out in other ways.” This could include taking unapproved breaks, disregarding instructions and purposefully working at a slow pace, according to research Welsh helped conduct. 

For those reasons and others, some CEOs eschew monitoring. “I really don’t like the spying on employees in any way,” said Daniel Yanisse, co-founder and CEO of Checkr Inc., which conducts advanced background checks for employers. “I want to trust my employees. We don’t do any monitoring of keystrokes or video or any of that.”

First Published: Mar 24 2023 | 9:27 PM IST

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