Privacy of employees at the workplace remains a contentious issue with most of the employers closely monitoring the activities of the employees. Employers are concerned with what their employees are doing in an effort to ensure that they dedicate their working hours to do the organizations work (Turnbull and Canadian privacy institute, 2004, 8). In addition to this, employers are concerned about the type of information that the employees send out to their colleagues and other people because some of this information could have serious consequences to the organization. Therefore employers have put up systems that monitor what the employee is doing and its relevance to the organization. Some employees monitor the behavior of their workers even during non-work hours.
The methods used to monitor employees are numerous and range from personal supervision to video camera monitoring. Some of these methods include, use of sophisticated software, smart card security badges, phone tapping devices and global positioning technology (Turnbull and Canadian privacy institute, 2004, 10). These devices help the employer track down the following;
a) Any movements, activities and the employee’s location at any given time during working hours.
b) Usage of electronic mail and the internet- Usually a review on the websites visited by employees is done regularly.
c) Conversations made over the phone and the numbered that were dialed during these conversations.
d) Job performance
In 2007 the American management association conducted the electronic monitoring and surveillance survey. This survey revealed that 73% of employers monitored electronic mail messages and at least 66% of employers monitored web surfing (Guerin, 2009, 41). The survey further reviewed that 30% of employers fired workers due to misuse of the internet, 28% fired employees due to inappropriate electronic mail use and another 6% fired employees on the grounds of phone misuse (Guerin, 2009, 41).
There are no appropriate policies that provide employees with workplace privacy rights. There are grave consequences that could occur to the company if they granted employees absolute privacy in the workplace. Some employees have filed lawsuits against the employers but the courts have always been careful and often consider other factors to determine if the employer was justified to fire the employee. The employer has a right to venture it the privacy of employees during work hours to determine to make sure that they are doing the right thing.
Privacy within the modern movable office
The ubiquity of the internet and globalization has made most organizations recommend the use of movable office (David and Yudken, 2003, 6). In a modern movable office people are able to carry out their normal office duties from various locations. A movable office can be set up at home or at any location in the globe (David and Yudken, 2003, 6). The modern movable office has limited physical interaction employees and has revolutionized how people relate with each other at the office. Small organizations in particular find it more convenient to run mobile offices because they do not require a lot of space and resources.
Monitoring workers in the case of a movable office is a difficult task. The management only gets in touch with the employee only when need arises. It is impossible to check what an employee is doing at a particular time, who he/she communicates with or who he sends emails to. Although the organization will provide the necessary tools such as laptops and phones, it may be difficult to track their use or their users. However, a closer look at the idea of the moveable office clearly shows that it brings in more benefits than the traditional office. The employees have to meet their targets and complete their work in time. This gives the employees greater control of their lives and can perform tasks that would initially have taken an entire day in a few hours. Therefore the movable office allows the employees maximize and take control of their time and lives.
Managers usually monitor the activities of their employees so that they can limit time wastage and unauthorized use of the company’s resources. The employees feel monitored and may develop a negative attitude towards the employers especially in cases where they are monitored even after their normal working hours. Employers have also fired employees on the basis of unauthorized use of the internet or sending inappropriate emails to other people. The movable office is a far better option when it comes to granting employees privacy. This is because it lets the employee have more autonomy and better control of their time. The employer also benefits because his work is done on time and professionally without any confrontations with the employee.