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 I have been a MT fan for a while, but this is my first time posting.  I am responsible for a team of outsourced workers, and my CEO wants to use a screen capture tool to monitor them.   This tool would basically take random screen shots throughout the day and make them available to an administrator (which could be our organization, or our clients directly).

For some reason this doesn't sit right with me, but I haven't been able to put it into words to have a productive conversation with my boss about it.  I think the request stems from a lack of trust of the employees, and from an assumed lack of trust on the part of our clients, but these are just guesses because this has mandated, and so there hasn't been a lot of room for discussion.  

Perhaps my discomfort with this is just a "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" thing?  I wouldn't stay in an environment where I felt there was someone watching me 24X7, so I have a hard time implementing it for others.  We are in the process of rolling out the trinity, and it is going well.  I believe that any performance issues that exist currently, or may come up in the future can be dealt with through O3's, etc., so I don't think that this will materially affect performance, but that is just a guess at this point.

Any thoughts?  Am I making a big deal out of nothing?  Has anyone had experience with this type of tool that they can share insights from?  Thanks.

TomW's picture

In my experience, that kind of software does a couple of things in the short term:

  • It tells people that the company does not trust them
  • It encourages people to spend more time surfing on smart phones, ipads, and other non-monitored devices

Eventually, people forget and go back to their normal habits (except for a few hold-outs, who generally are a little more concerned about "privacy" in general)

Aside from the trust issue, it also tells employees that the company is worried about little details while missing the bigger point. If someone is meeting or exceeding all expectations of deadlines and quality, I don't really care if he's surfing Facebook for 10 minutes while his software compiiles or his code syncs with CVS.

TomW's picture

In my experience, that kind of software does a couple of things in the short term:

  • It tells people that the company does not trust them
  • It encourages people to spend more time surfing on smart phones, ipads, and other non-monitored devices

Eventually, people forget and go back to their normal habits (except for a few hold-outs, who generally are a little more concerned about "privacy" in general)

Aside from the trust issue, it also tells employees that the company is worried about little details while missing the bigger point. If someone is meeting or exceeding all expectations of deadlines and quality, I don't really care if he's surfing Facebook for 10 minutes while his software compiiles or his code syncs with CVS.

jrosenau's picture

Most companies already have monitoring in place.  I had a direct that I was getting negative feedback about. I was able to go to our security group and pull logs of their web activity.  Is that a possibility here?  Is that in place at your organization?  Alot of companies do that now and only pull it on an as-needed basic and only keep it for a month or so.

I'd be interested to know why you'd allow clients to see those screen shots and not just the internal resource managers.  Why would your clients care?  As the podcasts have recently been talking about, shouldn't they care only about the status of your work with them?

As you said its mandated, there might not be much you can do but voice that it concerns you about what message this action is sending to the workers you are responsible for and that it will make your job to have them execute the work more challenging.

John 

parcoast's picture

 Thanks for your input.  A couple of responses to the thoughts above:

On why our customer might want to view screenshots:  Our business model is a bit different than most outsourcing firms because we hire the workers and then their sponsoring organization manages them directly.  We aren't responsible for the output, just the worker being present and on-task (whatever that task may be).  Think Odesk, but with live management and Class A office space.  It makes for interesting management problems, since performance is hard to quantify, and in many cases our managers don't really understand the client's business or objectives.

My natural inclination was along the lines of TomW's comments.  Performance can be measured by the output, and not a one snapshot at any one moment in time.  Unfortunately, when it comes to outsourcing some companies are willing to forego best practices (O3's, building relationships) when they are even more important due to the distances involved.

So far it sounds like some of my concerns are validated, whether or not I have to fulfill the mandate--a reality I understand.  Thanks again for the feedback, and I would appreciate hearing more points of view.  Would anyone out there support this type of measure, and if so, why?  What benefits would you expect from it?  Maybe I can provide those benefits another way.