Barclays Employees Were Spied Upon Via Company Installed Spyware On Employees’ Computers…. WTF?

Barclays has been criticised by HR experts and privacy campaigners after the bank installed “Big Brother” employee monitoring software in its London headquarters. In other words, the company used spyware to spy on their employees:

Introduced as a pilot last week, the technology monitors Barclays workers’ activity on their computers, and in some instances admonishes staff in daily updates to them if they are not deemed to have been active enough — which is described as being in “the zone.” The system tells staff to “avoid breaks” as it monitors their productivity in real-time, and records activities such as toilet visits as “unaccounted activity.” A whistleblower at the banking giant told City A.M. that “the stress this is causing is beyond belief” and that it “shows an utter disregard for employee wellbeing.” “Employees are worried to step away from their desks, have full lunch breaks, take bathroom breaks or even get up for water as we are not aware of the repercussions this might have on our statistics,” they added. Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaign group, described the technology as “creepy.” The software, provided by Sapience, has been rolled out throughout the product control department within the investment bank division at the firm’s Canary Wharf headquarters.

Once this was made public, Barclays terminated the program. But I suspect that Barclays isn’t the only company doing something like this because employers want to maximize the productivity of their employees. And some will use methods like this to do it. The problem is that once this is out in the public domain, employees who have a problem with this will simply leave. Which of course hurts the company as the talent leaves which is expensive, and then you have to try and recruit new talent which is also expensive. Plus train them and the like, which is you guessed it, expensive. While you should have no expectation of privacy in the workplace, schemes like this go way too far. Thus if you’re an employer who things that this is a good idea, you might want to think again.

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