This week Elon Musk announced that executives at Tesla and SpaceX had to return to offices. Musk’s justification is that an essential part of leadership is that people ‘see you’ that no company that has the mixed model has ‘created a quality product’ in recent times. Musk’s email, of course, sparked a debate about remote work, and also about how tech companies can measure the productivity of their talent and over-monitoring.
One important tidbit: Employees in the tech segment really don’t like being watched when they’re working remotely. In fact, a survey by Morning Consult found that 56% of people in the tech segment would quit if they found out the company was recording their screens. 51% also said that they would also leave their position if the company used facial recognition software (a technology used to monitor time at the workstation) as an element to measure their productivity.
The study goes on to detail examples of actions that employees view as excessive monitoring. For example, 47% said they would quit if a system was put in place to track their keystrokes, and 46% if their employer started taking screenshots of their computers.
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Of course, the study clarifies that in reality there are very few technology companies that usually apply these monitoring technologies. Only 19% of the companies surveyed took screenshots of their employees, while 18% measured keystrokes or recorded audio and video of their employees.
Interestingly, the study says that the reason many companies do not do this type of monitoring is a concern for the privacy of their employees. On the contrary, having these types of records can be material for people who work remotely in tech areas to make claims for the opposite: working extra.
“I would argue that they are probably your greatest risk and your greatest chance that someone will say, ‘Enough, I’m overworked, I’m tired, I’m burning out, I’m going to start looking at other options,’ reads one of the study’s conclusions.