View Full Version : Here's Looking At You

11-13-2006, 12:49 PM
Goldbrickers beware: technology, a zeal for productivity and a fear of lawsuits is making it harder for workers to goof off on the job.

From monitoring computer use to installing cameras in the office to equipping workers with global positioning system satellites, the bosses have big eyes.
By and large, looking is legal.

"To a certain degree, as long as it's the employer's tools you're using, the employer rules," said Leslie Ann Reis, a workplace privacy expert at John Marshall Law School.

Watch what you say

Three out of four companies say they monitor Web site connections, according to a 2005 survey of 526 companies by the American Management Association. Half of firms reported that they review employees' computer files.

Phones, too. About half of the firms say they monitor the amount of time spent on the phone and track numbers, up from just 9 percent in 2001. Camera use jumped to 51 percent in 2005 from about 33 percent in 2001.
GPS is used by 8 percent of companies to track vehicles but is expanding rapidly to include workers too.

The boss means business: 26 percent of the firms said they have fired employees for Internet misuse. Six percent have canned a worker for misusing office phones.

At Twin Oaks Landscaping in Oswego, 18 crews are equipped with Xora Inc.'s TimeTrack GPS software, which allows the southwest suburban firm to monitor start and finish times on the site, lunch breaks and the routes the employees take to get to the assigned job.

"Part of the reason was that [some of the crews] felt the need to stop for refreshments before the job," company comptroller Paul Zabel said. "We've seen a great deal of curtailment in that regard."

Since installing the devices last year, "we're getting the labor we're paying for," Zabel said.

The employees "weren't too excited about it," Zabel said. "They felt it was kind of like Big Brother looking over them." But putting in a full day's work "is part of their responsibilities."