Friday, June 27, 2008

Shedworking surveillance

One of the most popular clich├ęs about homeworkers (probably only after the one about us always working in our pyjamas or naked) is that we bunk off all the time to go shopping or watch the television. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this appears to remain a stumbling block for many managers in allowing more flexible homeworking options. So while we might not like the idea of it in terms of the theoretical threat to our personal liberty – especiall as we appear to be headed towards an increasingly 1984 surveillance society - would the option of electronic tagging actually encourage a larger take-up of homeworking and shedworking?

To some extent we’re already some way down this path. Earlier this year, researchers at the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK reported that managers in around a fifth of workplaces admitted to monitoring their employees using computer-based systems. Indeed companies such as Brickhouse Securities in the US already offer a pretty wide range of both personal and businessGPS trackingproducts.

The downside? The researchers also revealed that in workplaces where computer checks were operating, reports of work-related strain rose by around seven per cent, rising to 10 per cent in call centres.

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