A few weeks ago, bank employees received an email from the boss. It said: You are under observation! We evaluate your keystrokes! We save your visited websites! And every 5 minutes we take a screenshot of your screen! We can also see your computer's live screen at any time!
The reason for the strict employee monitoring: an apparently somewhat too literal understanding of home office. "We saw individual employees who took unfair advantage of flexible working hours," quotes one employee from the email sent. The tone of voice sounds anything but friendly: workers who do not do their daily chores face disciplinary measures.
Workplace surveillance is not a new phenomenon. For example, investment banks in London installed rows of motion detectors on desks to check whether the bankers were at work. But now that most office workers work from home, this form of physical surveillance is hardly possible. The supervisor does not see whether an employee is taking long breaks or having private conversations in the kitchenette. This is why espionage software that monitors employees in the home office is booming.
In the corona crisis, numerous companies rely on the monitoring software Wolfeye (www.wolfeye.us), which takes a photo of the employee screen every five minutes. This enables the boss to see exactly what his employees are currently working on the screen. The software can also record all keystrokes, giving detailed reports on websites visited and much more. By using the "Wolfeye Screenviewer" software ( www.wolfeye.us/screenviewer.html), the boss can even see the employee's live screen as if he were sitting in front of it himself. And: without the employee noticing it. "Screenviewer" can be used as a supplement to the Wolfeye Keylogger or as stand alone software.
Company laptops can also be monitored remotely: Wolfeye software can be used to track all kinds of activities: e-mails, website visits, keystrokes. This allows you to create real logs of user behavior. Who was on Facebook for how long? Who read sports news during working hours? Who was on shopping sites? The computer program can be configured so that the information collected is sent to the boss's email address.
The software not only serves to uncover violations of labor law in the area of compliance, but also to measure productivity. At the end of the 19th century, supervisors were still in the factories with the stopwatch to measure worker productivity. Today there is no longer any need for complex measurement series - computer programs are sufficient.
In addition to Wolfeye Keylogger and Wolfeye Screenviewer, there are a number of other software providers such as Time Doctor, Teramind or VeriClock that record productivity metrics such as working hours or the number of emails sent. Applications like Time Doctor also rely on nudging techniques: employees get a push if they spend too much time on Facebook or YouTube. A reminder pops up on the screen: "Are you still working on ...?" It is as if the boss is paying a control visit.
In China, digital surveillance goes one step further: With the DingTalk office software, presence and absence can be precisely controlled. The system administrator defines a wifi network or GPS coordinates as the workplace. When the employees come to the office in the morning and log in to the WLAN automatically with their smartphone, they jump on the digital time clock without any further action. If the employees go to lunch or to the toilet and are therefore outside the WLAN range, they unintentionally stick out again. Tricks and tricks on the digital time clock are virtually impossible - login or location data do not lie.