As working from home has become a new routine, the incident of companies using technology to remotely monitor employees has been exposed, causing public attention and discussion. The work scene moved from the office to the home, and the electronic eyes of the “supervisor” also extended to people’s relatively private space.
Enterprises are worried that employees are “fishing”, and employees complain that they live under surveillance. Both sides have their own insecurities, but this also brings more conflicts and disputes.
01 “Don’t even dare to go to the toilet”
According to netizens, Suntech started a similar monitoring operation as early as the beginning of the epidemic, and the company required its employees at home to install remote monitoring software overnight. Moreover, this monitoring software only supportsWindowsSystem, employees who use Mac computers to work need to install virtual machines to cooperate with monitoring.
Captured every 5 minutes, this frequency makes employees complain that they “don’t dare to go to the toilet” and question the company’s “inhumanity”.
Netizens broke the news that Suntech took pictures to monitor the working status of home employees. | Source: Maimai screenshot
According to Hexun.com, Suntech has responded to the matter: “The company installs the software for the employees to work on their own with the informed consent of the employees. During working hours, the software will randomly check the working status of the employees, and provide the employees with meals and breaks. Waiting for personal time to do random checks.”
Suntech said that the measure is currently in the trial operation stage, and the company is collecting suggestions internally, hoping to find a better balance between company efficiency and employee experience.
In addition, Suntech said in response to the “Securities Daily” that there are false and exaggerated descriptions in the online revelations. In fact, the company has adopted the principle of moderate relaxation. While ensuring the work efficiency of employees, it also gives employees sufficient rest time. There is no less than 89 snapshots count as absenteeism.
In response to the public discussion caused by the incident, Geek Park consulted lawyer Yuan Jun, a member of the Labor Law Professional Committee of the Beijing Lawyers Association and a lawyer from Zhongwen Law Firm.
“Working from home is a change in the workplace. The nature of the labor that employees should provide during working hours remains unchanged, and companies should also pay labor remuneration. The law does not prohibit companies from managing home-based employees.” Lawyer Yuan Jun said, “For employees to work at home The company has the right to manage the working status during office hours.”
But management cannot cross the line. For the company’s request that exceeds the management limit, the employee can refuse, or can report to the labor inspection department. If the company deducts employees’ labor remuneration or imposes penalties on employees, it may file an arbitration or lawsuit with the labor arbitration commission or the people’s court to safeguard its legal rights.
How to determine the company’s management boundaries?
In the Suntech incident, the public opinion is most concerned about the management measures that the company reportedly captures employees’ faces every 5 minutes, and that less than 89 times a day is considered an absenteeism management measure, although Suntech later denied the existence of this rule.
Zhao Chunyan, co-partner of Beijing DHH Law Firm, told Geek Park that theoretically, what kind of working hour system is applicable to home-based employees, whether monitoring software needs to be installed, and whether less than 89 snapshots per day are considered absenteeism. The establishment of these labor employment systems It should go through a legal process, that is, by holding a staff meeting to discuss and negotiate with the union, and it should not be a simple notification. “This does not comply with the provisions of the Labor Contract Law.”
If the working hours system of working from home has been approved by the employees and has gone through a legal publicity process, then the two parties can take pictures if they reach an agreement, which does not constitute an invasion of privacy.
After the incident was fermented on the Internet, some Suntech employees said that the company still implements a system of snapshots every 5 minutes, but the requirement for the appearance rate has been lowered to 60%.
02. The bottom line of technology and the boundary of management
The “home office” in the eyes of employees and the “home office” in the eyes of enterprises have their own anxiety points.
According to the requirements of the employee’s revelations, home employees are captured every 5 minutes, and 89 or more captures a day are considered qualified. Then, the total time required for employees to sit in front of the computer is about 7.5 hours. According to the standard of 8 hours a day, employees have a total of 7 “missed” opportunities to capture photos, and can spend a total of 35 minutes away from the computer.
As a manager, it is reasonable to worry about the working status and output effect of employees working from home, and the business challenges under the impact of the epidemic are also real. However, if you want to use this kind of technical means to establish a handle for remote management, whether it can really improve the work efficiency of employees, and whether it means a good working condition in front of the computer, there are actually huge doubts.
The long epidemic has indeed accelerated the development of digital management, but when the tentacles of management appear in the form of simple and rude “supervisors”, a conflict between corporate management and employee emotions will inevitably arise.
It seems that the company is hoping for a position that needs to go to the office. When working from home, it ensures that employees have the same working state as “sitting at the desk”. However, taking photos involving the employee’s home environment involves the space of the employee’s personal privacy. Raising doubts and simply creating a work environment that is even more stressful than in the office does not deliver the efficiency businesses hope for.
At the same time, the management boundaries of enterprises are clearly stipulated in the law. Geek Park learned from lawyers that during the period of working from home, enterprises should inform employees of the method and scope of management when conducting remote management. However, if the management action itself does not involve employees’ personal information and behavior, employees’ consent is not required.
For example, if the employee’s computer is equipped by the company and it is clearly stipulated that it is only used for office purposes, then the company may even grab the employee’s computer screen. The company’s forcible capture of employees’ computer screens is beyond the scope necessary for management, and is suspected of violating the relevant provisions of the Civil Code and the Personal Information Protection Law.
The behavior of regularly starting the camera to capture home office photos obviously has obvious problems compared with the above cases. The enterprise can manage the scope directly related to the employee’s work, but should not collect the employee’s private content; if it has been collected, it should not be saved and used for other purposes; if it cannot be separated from the work content, it should be Perform desensitization treatment. Whether these “monitoring software” meet similar compliance requirements is worth digging into.
In recent years, more and more companies have begun to introduce digital means to manage employees, but the digital management systems introduced by companies to improve efficiency often have inconsistent standards, and the relevant mechanisms are sometimes not very transparent, which leads to a lot of “stupid formalism” and many heated disputes.
The issue of regulatory boundaries brought about by digitalization has been evolving in recent years. In February of this year, rumors of layoffs from an Internet company spread, which also let the public know about a third-party service system that claims to be able to understand employees’ turnover intentions.
After the company purchases related system services, employees use office computers to browse recruitment websites and submit resumes online. The system will record the length and number of visits. After statistical comparison, the employee’s turnover tendency can be inferred. It can be understood that the company’s human resources system and department heads have been “information enhanced”, which is more conducive to preventing sudden changes in post personnel.
The R&D company behind the system convincesly claims that their products are used by many large companies, but with different types of services. Since Sangfor has not publicly disclosed the mechanism by which this information was obtained, the question of whether this involves violating the boundaries of employees’ personal data remains unanswered. But the existence of this system does easily bring up many of the questions raised in sci-fi movies – “Does a person’s idea lead to confirmed results?” Does an employee searching for a new job mean that person should be hired? Replace the complex issues in practical management such as replacement.
In 2021, there have been news that some companies have used “smart cushions”, which can collect employees’ heartbeats, breathing, sitting posture, and judge the working status of employees. Although the company clarified that this is an internal product test, not the company’s management system, in today’s technology era where cameras and AI can fully form similar judgment capabilities, this technology-enabled management boundary issue needs to be seriously considered of.
Technology has expanded the management capabilities and methods of enterprises, and has also brought to the surface the ethical dilemmas behind technological progress.
Under the epidemic, technological progress has broken through the limitations of physical space, and has spawned a series of changes in office methods. Home office may not become a more efficient norm for some jobs.
However, the efficiency of working from home is highly dependent on the self-consciousness and self-discipline of employees. At this time, it is necessary to introduce a more reasonable and accurate performance management system, combined with more advanced and reasonable technical means of supervision, in order to bring about fairness among employees and the survival of the company. , development and employees in one line.
The borderless use of information technology in enterprise management is a form of formalism and short-sighted behavior. In China’s thousands of industries, in terms of the nature of work, although “culture and values” cannot be used to cure all diseases, and it is impossible to use one management system and tools to solve problems, the boundaries of technology and management cannot be solved. The discussion needs to have basic rules and a unified bottom line. And technology products that break through the bottom line are actually hurting the company and every employee.
In the digital age and under the impact of the epidemic, the impact of the past few years on the management of Chinese enterprises must be extremely far-reaching. At this time, technology, managers, and employees urgently need a direction and consensus that can work together.