In 1949, George Orwell wrote the book titled ‘Nineteen Eighty- four’, which first put forth the idea of an omniscient government that could see and hear every action and word that its people undertook. Little did Orwell know- or perhaps he did know- that such an idea would, today, be a reality. Satellites can identify and follow any person on the face of this Earth. The content of our very thoughts and intended actions can be made known by what we post on the internet, which is analysed by people working in IT companies like Apple and Google, and even analysts in the defense sectors of governments. Proof of this is seen in the fact that advertisements, which pop up while we are logged into our email accounts, are related to the content of our most recently sent emails. Send a friend an email telling them that you are going for a holiday to Goa and immediately, pop ups relating to resorts and tourist sites in Goa, will appear. ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ literally epitomizes this idea in shows like ‘Big Boss’ and ‘Big Brother’ where a bunch of people are monitored via audio and video equipment, with their consent of course. For the purpose of this essay, we look at the concept of monitoring in the context of the organization, the ways in which it is carried out, the manner and purposes for which it is used, the negative effects of such monitoring, and the optimal way in which it can be carried on so as to diminish these negative effects .
What is it?
Employee monitoring or workplace monitoring involves viewing, recording and reporting what employees do in the workplace (Frayer, 2002). At first, it was carried on through supervisory overview, wherein the supervisor simply observed what the employee did and how he did his job, and made a record of it for later reference. However, with the move from the Industrial Age to the Information and Internet Age (Hart, 2000), employees came to depend on computers and technology to do their jobs, and so did their employers, who started using technology to monitor them.
How do we do it?
Several software and hardware applications are being used by employers, with prices ranging from thousands of dollars to absolutely free (also called freeware). ExtraSpy Employee Monitor is an example of such software. Most software presents a record of activities in the form of graphs that are easy to read. Also, certain types of software provide a setting to alert the employer when the employee undertakes specific, selected types of activities. New technologies make it possible for employers to monitor many aspects of their employees' jobs, especially on telephones, computer terminals, through electronic and voice mail, and when employees are using the Internet.
1. Email and Internet Monitoring: Incoming and outgoing emails pass through a filtering software to search for any content that violates the company’s policies. The software identifies suspicious emails which are then reviewed by a person who...