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Workplace Monitoring and Blocking Software

Workplace Monitoring and Blocking Software

Software monitoring and blocking tools have become commonplace within the work environment and have been used in order to protect company intellectual assets from employees who either deliberately or accidentely become the cause of security issues. In addition to this, one of the main arguments for such tools is the idea that they increase employee productivity. While this may be true in situations where non-work related activity is monitored and blocked accordingly, it doesn’t always seem to be the best way to essentially increase productivity. In order to determine the true effectiveness of such tools, we must first understand why employers feel it necessary to use them. There are of course several legitimate reasons including the productivity issue described above, protecting intellectual assets, and protecting the organization from liability stemming from employees’ use or misuse of Internet resources.

Employers need to consider the negative implications increased monitoring of their employees may bring in terms of overall perception and attitude. Friedman & Reed (2007). What the employer may feel is perfectly acceptable policies and processes, the employee may have a very different view. Zwieg and Webster (2002) reported that certain technologies cross the line from being perceived as benign to being viewed as unfair and invasive. Such technologies create psychological barriers to monitoring or other security acceptance among the corporate culture. From an ethical point of view, an employee surely does not give up all of his or her privacy when entering the workplace. Schulman (2013). Employees’ perception that their privacy is being invaded may in effect increase as corporate monitoring activities expand throughout the organization.

According to Webster (2002), employers would do well to consider the issue of monitoring policies and procedures from different stakeholder perspectives within the organization. The interests of major constituents such as owners, managers and employees should be better balanced given the overall organizational objectives. Appropriate levels of monitoring and blocking processes should be implemented where necessary, but also communicated clearly with employees at the same time as raising their overall awareness of security challenges the organization faces. Monitoring and blocking software has its place in the workforce when implemented properly. When cases where these technologies become overused, or abused, they may in effect cause the opposite intended effect of increased employee productivity through a decrease in overall morale.

References:

  1. Friedman, B. A., & Reed, L. J. (2007). Workplace Privacy: Employee Relations and Legal Implications of Monitoring Employee E-mail Use. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 19(2), 75–83. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1007/s10672-007-9035-1
  2. Schulman, M (2013). Little brother is watching you. Retrieved from: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v9n2/brother.html
  3. Zwieg, D., & Webster, J. (2002). Where is the line between benign and invasive? An examination of psychological barriers to the acceptance of awareness monitoring systems. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(5), 605–633.

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