Employers are often tasked with making sure employees do not use company time for personal errands or tasks. Whether it be checking Facebook and private emails, or shopping online and making personal calls, employees are quite rightly under some level of scrutiny for spending a large amount of time not working. However, a new app called Mr Follow, which monitors online and mobile activity right down to the last detail, has caused a stir in the working world. When, if at all, is it ok to spy on your employees 24/7?
What is Mr. Follow?
Mr. Follow is a downloadable app that works in stealth mode. If it is installed on an employee’s phone, it can be used to monitor almost all communication, including SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook chat and Viber, as well as all incoming and outgoing phone calls and emails. Not only that, but the app can also be used to listen to the surrounding areas of the monitored phone and includes a GPS tracker which can identify the exact area where the phone, and therefore the employee, is. This incredibly hi-tech app demonstrates a shocking new way in which employees can be spied on, listened to and monitored during their working hours. Mr. Follow has come under a lot of scrutiny from the critics who say this is one step closer to a Big Brother society in which employees may feel untrusted and exposed.
What does the law say?
Although the issue of employee time-wasting has been hotly debated over past years, particularly with the rise of easily accessible tech supporting social networking platforms, the idea of spying on your employees is not one to be taken lightly.
• Employees must be made aware that their communication is being monitored and there must be a policy in place informing them of this.
• This policy must state why the employer is taking this action, i.e., to avoid misuse of company time, the protection of company data or to ensure employees are not putting the company’s reputation at stake by using devices unlawfully.
• The policy must be signed by the employee making them fully aware of the fact that any and all communication they have may be monitored and recorded.
If these practices are not put into place, the employee’s privacy will be compromised and there could be the danger of lawsuits.
Is it good or bad?
The answer to this depends on whose side you’re on; the employer or the employee! The main critique people have is that it breeds mistrust between management and workers and creates a negative overtone when it comes to morale. Being watched is not something many people enjoy, and although the company’s reasons may be purely based on the productivity of the business, the app may end up causing more problems than it solves!
There are issues to do with morality as well; mainly the idea that if you cannot trust the employees you have trained up to do the job then perhaps there are deeper issues within the learning and development of the team. Either way, the technology is now in place to take spying to the next level.
And in case you’re wondering, in our online recruitment agency we can say with complete confidence that we will NOT be using Mr Follow any time soon!
Jamie Mistlin find me on Google+.