It’s hard to believe that many of us have been working from home for almost a year. The vaccine programme brings hope that a return to the office isn’t far off, but such seismic disruption to the world of work poses some bigger questions about how we’ll do things in future. Chief among these is how to adequately support and engage employees from home – during the current lockdown and longer term as more flexible working looks set to stay.
Digtial tools can help
A range of digital tools have come to the fore in recent years which can promote employee wellbeing. Device monitoring systems, for example, can nudge people to take a break from screens, socialise or go on walks – invaluable when managers are simply not there in person to encourage these behaviours.
It’s true that these systems haven’t been without controversy, including recent backlash against a Microsoft programme which gave employers data about team productivity. Employees have understandably expressed fears both about their privacy and their data being misused.
These are justifiable concerns which need to be addressed, but that doesn’t mean we should write off this technology entirely. Device monitoring systems can help colleagues to feel supported and connected to their workplaces if businesses are transparent about how and why they are being used.
Addressing privacy concerns
Services should be anonymous to prevent employees from feeling spied on and used on an opt-in basis only. Businesses must be clear in communicating the benefits of the tech, showing that they are actively seeking ways to help staff rather than working against them.
If employers can establish trust in these monitoring tools, then they can have significant benefits for when we return to the office, enabling businesses, for example, to track and optimise the use of physical workplaces. This can support planning for Covid-19 safety measures, highlighting pressure points and organising layouts for effective social distancing.
Device monitoring technology has understandably been a source of concern. Deployed in the right way, however, it can be a supportive tool for businesses and employees alike.