A large number of remote workers in the United States are concerned that their communications are being secretly monitored by their employers.
A US-centric analysis of Google search trends revealed that the top HR-related questions relate to privacy and monitoring when working from home. Elements Global conducted the research and discovered that three-quarters of remote workers fear Big Brother will be watching them.
This trend is a concern for small businesses that often have much more personal relationships between employers and employees. Distrust and resentment are hurting morale, and this comes on top of the pandemic, which has already taken a huge toll on employees.
Employees think you are spying on them
The research began with a list of over 300 common HR related questions. They then narrowed the list down to the 50 most commonly searched questions. These questions were then categorized into related categories, with privacy and monitoring being two of the categories containing the most frequently asked questions.
Georgina Coleman of Elements Global explained: “Trust is a central dynamic in employer-employee relationships. Employees have a lot of questions about their privacy limitations and the extent to which employers monitor them. As our data will show below, employers also have reasons for concern.”
Trust issues are further emphasized by the statements accompanying the above statement. It revealed that 49% of employees ignore reporting to the HR department for fear of retaliation. Two out of three employees also report that they don’t report issues to HR because they don’t think any action will be taken.
Employers keep track of employees
Speaking directly about privacy and monitoring concerns, Coleman added: “No matter where you work, there are countless ways an employer can track what you do and how often you do it.
“Of the workers surveyed, 74% of those who work remotely are concerned about their employer monitoring the time and extent of their work, and 76% of workers who use a computer are concerned about their employer monitoring their communications.”
Additional findings in the research revealed that 53% of workers admitted to deleting Slacks and other messages so that their employer could not see them. Another 64% admitted to deleting browsing history to hide their lack of productivity.
Privacy and Monitoring Survey Questions
The most common privacy questions included inquiries about whether employers can share salary or FMLA information with other employees. The monitoring question most frequently asked by workers was whether or not an employer could monitor their personal computers. They also asked if employers could track their personal phone and laptop location.