We were supposed to be thankful that the benevolent employer saw fit to provide us with high-speed Internet access, a computer, a working telephone and a lovely brown-beige cubicle in which all this magic was installed. The generations-old burnt-orange carpet squares laid down directly on linoleum (no padding) completed the effect.
All of this is, frankly, not such a big deal. This is the state of the world today, and it is our challenge to understand and adapt to it. So it was with surprise that I read a report of a study that confirmed the degree to which companies in Canada spy on their employees. I couldn't believe that given all we know, stuff like this is still shocking to some of us.
So I wrote this for today's paper:
Common sense will thwart spying bossYour turn: What's your perspective on employers monitoring employees' electronic activities? What's fair? What isn't?
Published Wednesday, July 12, 2006
The London Free Press
News this week that many Canadian employees are under surveillance in the workplace should hardly come as a surprise to any of us.
The Ryerson University survey, Under the Radar, concludes employers are recording phone calls, tracking e-mails, and gathering information from security passes. They claim to be protecting corporate interests and preventing employee abuses.
But it’s just as easy to see the potential for bosses to abuse all this power and access.
Policies governing how the resulting information is to be used are few and far between. Human resources personnel are often unaware of the full range of technologies being used to spy on workers.
A little common sense, however, can shut the spy-bosses down. Never use an office computer or phone for any questionable or non-business-related activity. If you have to think about it, wait until you get home.
Trusting Corporate Canada to behave in employees’ best interests is about as advisable as allowing the fox to guard the henhouse. Individual workers are ultimately accountable for protecting themselves.