Why monitoring employees is so contentious

As the owner of a small business, you now have the technology available to know what Web sites your workers visit while sitting at their desks. You can monitor how they use Twitter and Facebook. You can even tap into their smart phones to find out where they physically are throughout the day. But just because you can do this, it doesn’t mean that you ought to.

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.

High-tech snooping?

If you run a package-delivery service, it might be OK to use new tech to monitor the location of your drivers, Claburn writes. And he points to the lower level of worker theft after Dunkin’ Donuts started monitoring employees. But what about tracing the location of a company-issued smartphone even when the employee using that phone is off work? Employers, Claburn writes, should probably avoid this.

The end of privacy?

The opinions by the experts quoted by Claburn are a mixed bag. These experts say that some monitoring of employees is reasonable, but other tactics are not. Such as, 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 are generally rewarded with workers who are harder-working and more loyal.