Tech Workers Will Quit if Bosses Spy on Them

More than half of workers surveyed also said they'd refuse a job offer if audio/video recordings were a pre-requisite.
Aaron Drapkin

A survey has revealed that over half of tech workers say they would quit if their boss started recording audio/video of them in remote working environments via their computers.

The news is the latest installment in the ongoing debate about whether deploying employee monitoring software is ever ethically permissible.

Some bosses argue that utilizing other kinds of remote working tech like video conferencing software to perform daily check-ins is a more sustainable way to manage a team.

Poll Shows Monitoring is Divisive

The poll, commissioned by Morning Consult, shows that 7 out of 10 tech workers believe they aren’t being surveilled at work.

But whether they actually are is an open question – there’s no federal law in the US that dictates companies must inform employees if they’re being surveilled.

56% of tech workers, however, said they would quit their job if they found out that their employer was recording video/audio of employees through their computers, whilst 51% said the same if facial recognition was built into employee productivity.

Almost half (47%) said they would walk away from their position if their employer started tracking their keystrokes. A similar proportion (46%) said they resign if their employer started taking screenshots of their screen.

Most Tech Workers Aren’t Surveilled

The strong opposition to being monitored must be seeping through to boardrooms because only a small (yet still significant) percentage of tech companies actually surveil their workers.

Morning Consult found that only 19% take screenshots of employees’ computer screens, and 18% are tracking keystrokes. The same percentage of employers record audio and/or video of their employees whilst 15% use facial recognition to monitor productivity.

Indeed, more than half (56%) of survey respondents said they’d be surprised if their company started to record audio/video of them, and 55% said the same about facial recognition.

Earlier in the year we spoke to employees affected by monitoring software, and the companies that use it. Read our Tech.co exclusive story

Employees Can Afford to be Picky

It’s entirely unsurprising that almost three in five tech workers said they would not take a role at a company if their prospective employers said they would record audio or video of them whilst working.

This sort of response is perhaps an effect of the labor and skills shortages in the economy at present; refusing a job on ethical grounds – or just general stubbornness around preferences – is now more justified than ever.

Plus, employee monitoring software, in many cases, is a heavy-handed approach to monitoring what staff are doing, something which could easily be achieved with daily check-ins, regular team catch-ups. Advancements in video conferencing software and other remote working tech will make this easier than it ever has been before too – so there's really little need to invade your staffs' privacy.

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Aaron Drapkin is a Senior Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol three years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.

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