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The Age of Trust

A client of mine, CEO of an IT services company recently had a dilemma - because of the new reality of hybrid home/office work they had installed a system that can track their employees' activities on their computers, and can know exactly how much time they spend on each of the company's applications, on social media sites, news sites, etc. This was supposed to help the company monitor employees' productivity but caused a concern - until now only the CEO and his partner had access to this information (and have not used it). They considered giving their heads of departments access to this sensitive information to enable them to better monitor their respective direct reports' activities but were concerned that the relevant managers might use it as blunt instruments when talking with their people. The CEO asked for my advice on how to train the middle-managers to use this information productively.

I challenged the entire thing. Why would a manager be concerned with how much time their employees are on Facebook/Instagram/TikTok etc.? Shouldn't they be more concerned about productivity? Is productivity measured in hours? Why would it matter if said employee delivers what they were supposed to deliver in 6 rather than 8 hours? Not all people are the same and some take more time to do things than others.

The CEO said "if someone can do things in less time it means they can do more without an extra cost for us. How will we know?" My reply was - ask them. In my experience, if you ask an employee if they can do more and they can, more often than not they will tell you. In any case, if an employee wants to hide being on Facebook while "working" from home they can log into the company's system and run a report a while browsing their mates' posts on the home computers, phones, tablets, etc.

We all need to learn to live in this brave new world of (partly) working from home. Spyware is not going to do any good. It's time for trust.

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