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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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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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