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Employers increasing levels of surveillance in an attempt to recreate office at home

As the coronavirus crisis continues, office workers have been advised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep working from home where they can. 

However, this may not mean escaping the office environment entirely, with some employers reportedly using increasing surveillance to try and keep tabs on workers they’re miles away from. 

According to the Observer, several employers have been using online tools to recreate the normal workplace – while others have requested digital methods of monitoring their workers from tech companies. 

Shirking or working? Employers seem increasingly unsure...digital health researcher Dr Claudia Pagliari says managers have 'ramped up' tracking their employees

Shirking or working? Employers seem increasingly unsure…digital health researcher Dr Claudia Pagliari says managers have ‘ramped up’ tracking their employees

Dr Claudia Pagliari, a researcher into digital health and society at the University of Edinburgh, told that bosses have ‘ramped up’ their attempts to track their employee’s time, in the same way they might in the real world. 

‘It has really ramped up’, she said, ‘People are home working, and many organisations are beginning to want to track what they’re doing.’

She revealed that employers are keeping track of workers’ time through tools such as Slack and Microsoft Team, which report when an employee is active. 

The publication also spoke with David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, a company providing a platform for remote employees. 

WHAT IS API?  

Application Programming Interface (API) is a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other. 

When using an app on a mobile phone, the application connects to the Internet and sends data to another server. 

The server retrieves that data, performs the required actions and sends it back to the phone. 

The application then interprets that data and gives the user the information you wanted in a readable way.

APIs can also be used to control access to devices that an application may not have permission to use. 

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He claimed that he’s turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees: ‘We went so far as to say that our API cannot be used for any form of employee surveillance.’   

This news comes after the dramatic reversal of the Government’s recent drive to get people back to workplaces earlier this month.

The new Covid-19 measures implemented last week includes advising all office workers to work from home where they can as soon as possible. 

The official guidance for England now states: ‘Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’ 

David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, claims that he's turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees

David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, claims that he’s turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees

According to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove: ‘We are stressing that if it is safe to work in your workplace, if you are in a Covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it. But, if you can work from home you should.’

But this may not be bad news to all, with a July survey revealing one in three office workers want to continue working from home after the coronavirus threat is over. 

The study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that 32 per cent of people are expecting to at least partially work from home even after the lockdown has ended. 

The research further indicated that between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of employees will be working from home on any one day in 2021. 

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