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The Pros and Cons of Monitoring Remote Workers | Lisa Nagele-Piazza, SHRM-SCP

Remote and hybrid work arrangements continue to reshape the way employers approach performance management, and many organizations are turning to technology to help supervise offsite workers. Whether an employer simply notes when remote workers are available online through a platform such as Teams or Slack or uses more sophisticated software to track keystrokes and other activity, monitoring remote employees has its pros and cons.

Employers will need to understand the relevant legal risks and balance the value of such practices with the potential impact on employee morale. Here’s what employers should consider as they review and revise their remote-work policies. 

The Benefits of Monitoring Workers

“With the dramatic increase in remote-work arrangements since the inception of the pandemic—and the stickiness of those arrangements to this day—many employers are looking for ways to monitor productivity and ensure that employees are available and working during business hours,” says Risa Boerner, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Philadelphia.

How can technology help? Employers can use systems to track productive and unproductive time while employees work remotely, notes Amber Clayton, SHRM-SCP, senior director of SHRM’s HR Knowledge Center. For instance, a monitoring system could detect when an employee is performing tasks that aren’t job-related, such as surfing the Web for restaurant recommendations or things to do on the weekend. 

Monitoring can also be useful…

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