Privacy / Security

When people know they are being watched, productivity improves!

22nd Jun `14, 09:22 AM in Privacy / Security

Jim Sullivan, general manager of a Dallas restaurant, embraces digital monitoring in the workplace. Software, sensors and data…

BDMS
Guest Contributor
 

Jim Sullivan, general manager of a Dallas restaurant, embraces digital monitoring in the workplace. Software, sensors and data make it increasingly possible, and Mr. Sullivan, as noted in an article I wrote, is a beneficiary of the improved measurement techniques. His data showed he was a highly productive worker, a prime candidate for the promotions he received.

His attitude toward workplace surveillance is pragmatic and positive. When he was a server, he said:  “Personally, I was always aware and assumed that you’re being watched at work. I wasn’t stupid.”

Today, as a manager, Mr. Sullivan is an enthusiast. “When people know they are being watched,” he said, “I believe that productivity improves.”

Yet the academic research suggests caution. Much, it seems, depends on the way the watching is done and in what context.

Making surveillance productive, said Ethan S. Bernstein, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, is a “design challenge” that requires an understanding of human and organizational behavior. More monitoring, he said, is by no means always better. His research concludes that the opposite is sometimes the case.

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