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Employee-tracking software : Big Data, or Big Brother?

Software can tell you what your employees do, where they go, and with whom they interact. But are you simply collecting Big Data, or acting like Big Brother?

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Software can tell you what your employees do, where they go, and with whom they interact. But are you simply collecting Big Data, or acting like Big Brother?

Ever wish you knew more about what your employees do all day? There is a high-tech solution to that particular problem: employee-tracking software.

The sheer amount of data you can gather with this kind of software is impressive. Programs like ActivTrak can tell you what websites your employees frequent at work, or how they use company-issued devices. Organizational tracking systems like TeleNav Track, on the other hand, allow you to monitor and manage remote employees from afar. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg–if you can think of it, there’s probably a way to track it.

Such seemingly endless data mining opportunities raise the inevitable question: Are you simply collecting Big Data or acting more like Big Brother? On the one hand, employee-tracking systems can give you a detailed understanding of employee behavior, and a clearer sense of the strengths and problem areas within your business. But they come with the potential costs of violating employee privacy or, at the very least, creating a culture of paranoia in the office.

Before you dole out microchip trackers at your next team meeting, here are four things to consider.

What is it that you want to know?

There are some upsides to knowing exactly what your employees are up to, according to Ben Waber, CEO of the data collection firm Sociometric Solutions, but you need to be clear on what exactly you’d like to know.

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Sociometrics uses RFID chips embedded in ID badges to track employee behavior, collecting data on everything from employee location to the type of interactions they have with one another. The company’s chips know where employees go on their breaks, with whom they interact in the office–even how they speak to co-workers and colleagues. The chips don’t record conversations, but they do live-stream tones and intonations which are then interpreted by Sociometrics software.

Sound creepy? Waber says knowing how and when employees interact with one another can be immensely helpful for business owners and team managers.

One Sociometric client discovered that team members who encountered one another accidentally on breaks returned to their desks feeling more socially connected and were subsequently more productive–they completed tasks 25 percent more quickly than before. As a result, the company decided to schedule regular breaks when team members could all socialize together.

Whether your office turns into a happier, more productive place–or the paranoid dystopia of George Orwell’s 1984–depends on how upfront you are with your employees, says Fran Dirksmeier, global asset manager at G.E. Healthcare. G.E. produces the AgileTrac system, which allows healthcare professionals to monitor clinicians’ habits and work patterns–primarily to improve hospital hygiene, Dirksmeier says.

“I don’t think anybody likes being tracked, but [you] can’t manage well what you can’t measure well,” he says. Explaining to employees that you intend to use the information as a learning tool, and not a means of reprimand can go a long way, Dirksmeier explains.

Excerpt from:

Spying on Employees: Should You Do It?

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Myanmar

Digital Revolution and Repression in Myanmar and Thailand

Activists have also proactively published social media content in multiple languages using the hashtags #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar and #WhatsHappeningInThailand to boost coverage of events on the ground.

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By Karen Lee

Following the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s netizens became the latest to join the #MilkTeaAlliance, an online collective of pro-democracy youth across Asia.

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Ecommerce

How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability

A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.

The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.

Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.

In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.

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While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.

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