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Top 7 Ethical Considerations for Using Employee Monitoring Software on Remote Wo

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Top 7 Ethical Considerations for Using Employee Monitoring Software on Remote Wo

Pointers

1. Introduction

2. What does employee monitoring mean?

3. Know the Ethical Repercussions of employee monitoring

3.1 Personal Data and Privacy Breaches

3.2  Weakens Employee’s Trust and Morale

4. Top 7 Ethical Considerations for Using Employee Monitoring Software on Remote Workers

4.1 Discuss with your employees

4.2 Know the legal requirements for remote working

4.3 Use monitoring software that doesn’t track personal phone calls or files

4.4 Educate yourself on what is acceptable remote work behavior in your industry

4.5 Keep monitoring results confidential. Do not share information with others

4.6 Get all employees to agree to be monitored during the onboarding process

4.7 Ensure you have a strong privacy policy in place so there are no grey areas

Closing Thoughts

Employee monitoring is a successful employee management approach, but privacy issues and the legal concerns of “how much is too much?” have sparked many inquiries about the ethical aspects of monitoring employees.

For many businesses, this is perhaps the first time they’ve ever dealt with mostly remote staff. And this change has generated a new interest in monitoring software tools that allow employers to look at what a remote worker is doing.

But while monitoring your remote employees, you should follow certain ethics to avoid legal trouble.

Are you curious to know about employee monitoring ethics?

This post will discuss the top 7 employee monitoring ethics while using work monitoring software on remote workers.

Let’s dive in-

What does employee monitoring mean?

Employee monitoring entails monitoring your employees’ behaviors with various workplace surveillance systems, such as video surveillance, electronic security, computer monitoring, and so on.

On the one hand, employee monitoring ethics advise you on how to maintain track of your workers and their job without intruding on their privacy. As a result, you may build a transparent employee monitoring system that promotes a secure and effective working environment.

Is it intentional unethical monitoring or not?

Not on purpose, to be precise.

Employers frequently attempt to safeguard their businesses and trade secrets. The majority of them are probably unaware of the ethical issues associated with staff monitoring.

With the rise in availability of sophisticated employee monitoring software, not every company confines their monitoring to work hours. Employees may view such surveillance methods as an invasion of privacy, particularly if they do not trust their employers. This can result in demotivated or unengaged workers, legal action against the firm, or high staff turnover.

This mutual mistrust is exacerbated when remote workers are involved.

But, Why?

Remote work doesn’t necessitate working in a physical location, so remote employee trackers take on the role of being the sole means to keep track of their job-related activities during business hours.

However, using a monitoring tool while working remotely on one’s personal computer or device might be interpreted as gathering personal information during non-work hours.

This breaches employee privacy and makes remote workers more concerned when employers tell them to install employee monitoring software on their systems.

Do you want to know the major ethical repercussions of employee monitoring?

Read the following section to know the answer-

Know the Ethical Repercussions of Employee Monitoring

Here are two ethical issues associated with employee monitoring to be aware of in order to gain employee confidence and maintain openness in your organization.

1. Personal Data and Privacy Breaches

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Do you know what makes most workers uncomfortable about being observed?

It is a personal privacy invasion.

Employees may get uncomfortable when their computer usage is constantly monitored while at work.

This might be higher for workers who are being subjected to monitoring for the first time — they may have a greater expectation of privacy as they have not been tracked earlier.

Why not keep track of things without informing the staff?

Tracking workers without their consent may be a significant ethical issue. You will not only find yourself in legal difficulties, but you will also quickly lose your staff’s confidence!

The easiest approach is to inform staff what you’ll be monitoring and how you’ll follow the monitoring standards set by your state/nation.

2. Weakens Employee’s Trust and Morale

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Employee monitoring might create distrust and animosity in the workplace.

Investigating their personal accounts/messages just to be sure they’re not doing anything wrong might send the wrong signals.

Especially, if you are performing it secretly.

Yes, there may be workers who jeopardize corporate data or act unethically. But assuming everyone is the same can directly influence their motivation, productivity, and performance.

Furthermore, there is a distinction between monitoring and intrusion.

Intrusion refers to peeping into the personal data of your workers, which has nothing to do with your company during monitoring.

If your employees feel intruded on, they may become dissatisfied and unappreciated, leading to poor work culture, damaged corporate reputation, and even legal issues.

Top 7 Ethical Considerations for Using Employee Monitoring Software on Remote Workers

1. Discuss with your employees

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You must discuss your intentions of monitoring online activity with your employees before you begin. It is also an excellent idea to let them know that you are not trying to spy on them and that there should be no feeling of mistrust.

When you discuss your intentions, you may want to consider addressing concerns that may come up. They will likely be apprehensive about being monitored, especially if they think you might see personal or confidential information. If they know upfront what areas of their activity will be monitored, it can help alleviate those fears. It can also make things easier when there is a problem, and you need access to records to find and fix it.

You should also let them know that all records are secured with password protection, ensuring nobody without authorization will have access regardless of how many employees work at your company.

2. Know the legal requirements for remote working

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In many areas, employees are allowed to work outside of traditional office space while still completing required tasks. It’s a good idea to confirm whether or not your area has any specific requirements and make sure you fully understand them before embarking on a remote-work initiative. If so, make sure you follow these legal guidelines to help ensure your business stays in compliance with local laws.

For example, companies with workers in California must provide daily rest periods and weekly days off for full-time employees. Companies that do not comply can be fined for violation plus additional liquidated damages.

3. Use monitoring software that doesn’t track personal phone calls or files

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When it comes to monitoring software, it’s a good idea to pick one that doesn’t monitor employees when they don’t have work-related duties. For example, most employees would feel uncomfortable knowing their employers had access to information about their personal phone calls or correspondence with family and friends.

In some countries like USA, privacy rights are protected by law, meaning you could end up breaking federal and state laws if you install monitoring software that illegally monitors an employee’s personal communications. If you want to use tracking software, make sure your policy is clear on what behavior is tracked.

4. Educate yourself on what is acceptable remote work behavior in your industry

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You may have a difficult time deciding how to use employee monitoring software in a way that doesn’t violate an employee’s rights or other ethical considerations. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on what is acceptable remote work behavior in your industry and culture before implementing new tools. For example, if you are looking for more examples of professional expectations and guidelines, look at Workplace Fairness’s compilation of acceptable remote work practices. This will give you a better idea of whether it is appropriate to track specific tasks or behaviors with technology (or not). Creating written policies about employee monitoring makes things crystal clear for everyone involved—your employees, their managers, HR teams, and executives.

Discuss current state-of-play: Be honest about where you stand right now: What issues do you see at hand? Do any issues need immediate attention? Formalize rules and boundaries regarding remote worker monitoring.

5. Keep monitoring results confidential. Do not share information with others

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Regardless of whether you’re monitoring for employee productivity or job security purposes, do not divulge your findings to anyone but those with a need-to-know. You must remain professional, even when presenting bad news. After all, if an employee sees results being discussed openly, they may wonder what you are saying about them behind their back. Even if others have a right to know specific details about someone’s performance (such as upper management), don’t share anything that may be construed as gossip or personal attacks.

Let reports speak for themselves and avoid informal language in e-mails and letters related to your findings. If things must be said face-to-face, wait until after business hours so that you can discuss matters in private.

6. Get all employees to agree to be monitored during the onboarding process

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It’s a good idea to get all employees involved and on board with your employee monitoring policy from day one. During onboarding, you can run an online survey asking new hires whether they are willing to be monitored at work in exchange for a generous salary and paid time off. Ensure that these benefits are clearly listed for each question, along with an explanation of what type of monitoring is included in your policy.

A common choice is all incoming emails and phone calls, but if you do include calls, be sure it’s very clear that callers won’t be recorded unless consent is given. It’s also recommended that you define parameters for when (and how) workers should contact management if they notice any problems.

7. Ensure you have a strong privacy policy in place so there are no grey areas

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You should clearly tell employees about their rights, what their employer can monitor and what actions may result in disciplinary action. With a firm privacy policy in place, you’ll avoid any legal implications and have a clear guide for how you should use your monitoring software. Create employee guidelines so they know how they should act.

Employers must understand what they can and cannot do when it comes to monitoring employees, but it’s also vital that employees know how best to behave at work, so there aren’t any grey areas.

Whether you give them written instructions or just verbally explain expectations, it’s a good idea to make sure everyone understands where things stand concerning remote workers and monitoring software.

Closing Thoughts

Companies need to be mindful of the significant ethical repercussions and legal requirements when implementing employee monitoring software on remote workers. The seven considerations we’ve provided can help you find a balance between productivity and privacy, so your business is protected from any liability or data breach risks.

If you want an elevated way to stay in compliance with all these guidelines and know what behavior is acceptable for employees at work remotely, request a demo for Workstatus to completely follow the employee monitoring ethics while managing your workforce.

It’s an easy-to-use cloud-based remote employee monitoring software that helps companies track their remote working staff without having access to personal phone calls or files. Plus, it has features like GPS tracking, automated reminders about daily tasks, GPS time clock app, online timesheets, etc. making life easier for both managers and employees alike.

Thanks for reading!!


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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”

“Exactly!”

“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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