What would you say if I told you that you’re being watched, and everything you do electronically at work is being recorded and analyzed? Ridiculous? Here are some trends and truths:
- Companies are legally entitled to access any communications or intellectual property created in the workplace or on devices they pay for, that employees use for work
- Some large companies have a department called “workplace analytics” whose job it is to track emails and review communications on company telephones, mobile devices, and computers, to measure productivity, efficiency, time management, meeting effectiveness, or personal use
- You probably signed a technology agreement specifying how digital transmissions are company property and you are personally liable for misusing information or company issued equipment. Forgot about it? The company hasn’t.
- Some companies don’t look at emails, but only analyze who they go to and why. Other companies are sifting through text and transcribed calls on company mobile devises for frequency and meetings between staff, clients and personal
- These analytics of emails, chats, and appointments can give companies a portrait of how you spend your time, productivity, and work patterns. Some send an individualized dashboard to employees “suggesting” they spend less time in meetings and more time with customers
- Companies can learn to reallocate resources, spot problem employees and identify high performers by assessing data collected from work patterns through company technology
- One company has an alert system that tags an employee who downloads or copies a document outside of their function or responsibilities.
Any of this sound familiar? There are a host of consulting companies that provide services that deliver this kind of information to management. They have designed systems and programs to mine data that workers are generating to figure out what employees are up to, and with whom. Sad to say, there is little or nothing you can do about it. There’s a fine line between the trust between employees and companies and the level of intrusive assessment of employees.
There are, however, some things you can do to protect yourself from probing eyes and ears around your personal life:
- Understand what you are signing (or have signed) by asking for a copy of any agreement
- Do not communicate any private information on company devises – none.
- Keep a separate personal cell phone, smart phone and computer. Never use personal equipment for work or visa versa. One cross link can open up all your personal information.
- When travelling carry two phones and laptops: One personal and the other for work. Sounds redundant and foolish, but it’s the only way to separate work from your personal life.
- Safeguard your personal equipment with security systems that protect your information
This article is not intended to make you paranoid or wary of your employer. However, you need to be aware of your responsibility to yourself. Your information is personal and private. Giving it away is your decision and not someone else’s.
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