The debate over monitoring employees

Your company provided you a laptop that can be used at home. Say you are using it to watch movies on Netflix. Should your company be allowed to track which movies you watched? Perhaps you do the majority of your work on a company-provided iPad. Should your company be allowed to track the Facebook posts you’re making on it during your off-hours?

Privacy in the tech age

These are the issues that Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large with Information Week, recently tackled in an online feature story. In his story, Claburn wrote about Harvard University administrators searching the e-mail accounts of 16 faculty members to locate the source of leaks to the media about a recent cheating scandal at the school. Faculty members were angered and shocked at the administrators’ actions.

More to come?

But Claburn wrote that it’s naïve to be surprised at this sort of surveillance. Employees, he said, should expect their bosses to monitor their computer behavior, especially when these employees are working on company-provided equipment.

Mixed opinions

The opinions by the experts quoted by Claburn are a mixed lot. These experts say that some monitoring of employees is reasonable, but other tactics are not. For instance, employers shouldn’t monitor their workers’ locations when these workers are off duty. Possibly the best advice in the story? Those companies who trust their employees tend to be rewarded with workers who are harder-working and more loyal.