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The challenge of employee monitoring

Tam Harbert has posted a fairly even-handed discussion of employee monitoring in Computerworld. This is a difficult topic to address, since it treads on the fine line between employee privacy and a company's obligation to ensure efficient use of their resources. When Secure Computing bought Webster Webtrack, a web filtering product, back in the 1990s, the developers said that they'd see drops of 70% in web traffic when users knew they were being monitored.

It's a well known fact - people are more likely to behave if they think they're being watched. And it's easy to waste time surfing the web.

I especially like the way that Halbert's article describes "Monitoring done right." It is essentially a matter of establishing a policy and telling employees about it. There's nothing sneaky about responsible monitoring. You tell the employees what the company expects for behavior. You tell them how monitoring will take place. And you tell them why the company does this.

In short, you treat them with respect.

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