Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peerdrum: helping bosses spy on homeworkers

We had hoped that we were seeing the end of the bad old days when bosses didn't trust their homeworking staff to get on with the job in hand. These managers are the dinosaurs who insist on presenteeism and - despite all survey results to the contrary - secretly believe people who work from home wear pyjamas and watch daytime television all day.

Well, they'll be rubbing their hands with glee with the launch of Peerdrum. This web application takes screenshots every ten minutes and tracks time spent on projects with the aim of 'managing' remote workers' performance. Yes, there's a kind of 'pause' button but let's be honest, if you know your boss is peering over your shoulder then that's not really an option you'll be keen to use very frequently.

And what does it say about the trust within your working relationship? There are many, many great applications out there which are useful for people working remotely on a project to share their work and thoughts. This isn't one of them. However you dress it up, it appears to be a way for bosses to spy on homeworkers and we don't like it. But maybe that's just us - what are your thoughts?
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  1. It's programs like this that are the reason I'm self-employed. With the exception of the screen captures, it seems like it would be a useful collaboration app, especially the time-tracking feature. But you can tell from their video that they created it for bosses to spy (just look at the part where they pull up the screenshot of The Oatmeal as an example). I couldn't work for a company that instituted that kind of management practice. If they're going to micromanage like that, then I can tell right now that we would not be compatible.

  2. Personally, I think if taking a 15 minute walk to clear your head while working at home is what you need to do to get your *best* work done then you should be able to do so without worrying about whether someone is watching your time. If only bosses understood the whole quality not quantity adage. I've spent many an unproductive hour sat in an office, staring at a programming problem, but feeling that I couldn't take a break. Now I'm at home, I can wander round the garden for 15 minutes eating runner beans and solve the problem in a way that suits me! I think I would be glad to be fired from a job where my boss didn't understand that...

    People in offices never take enough breaks anyway, leaving you with employees with RSI, headaches, stress etc. 100% time spent at your desk does not equal 100% productivity...

  3. Sometimes you need a mental break. The Oatmeal is a great place to have a laugh and get back to work.

    Better problem solving also involves getting out of the office; standing, walking, or laying down. It could include nature, exercise, or closing our eyes. Furthermore: food, color, sound and textures can also stimulate creative solutions.

  4. Thanks for the article, Alex. I understand the reaction, but Peerdrum is not a spying tool - mainly because it keeps the control in the hands of the worker. There are lots of tools that let you spy on your team, track their emails, visited web sites, keylogging, etc. I really, really hate those apps. Peerdrum empowers the user, letting them determine how and when they are managed, while reassuring reluctant managers. The idea behind Peerdrum is to allow you to work from anywhere, set your own hours, break whenever you want for as long as you want & give peace of mind to those who need it.

    Tony Gialluca III
    Founder, Peerdrum Inc.

  5. Janet K.11:48 PM

    If this will convince my boss to send me home, I'm all for it.

  6. I'm sure I'd have some fun if I thought this was installed on the work systems. Leave work computer with singing cats playing all day and use second computer to do some work with. Keeps the boss entertains and I'd avoid distractions from the boss ringing up every ten minutes wanting to know why I was installing windows updates rather than working

  7. It's nonsense for those of us already working from home. If your boss trusted you to work from home in the first place, then surely this is not needed.

    On the other hand, as someone mentioned, if this is the enabler, then maybe it is a good thing.