The modern workplace: Will remote tech workers tolerate being monitored?

The same technologies that enable people to work from home can be used to watch them work. A survey finds widespread use of monitoring software and not everyone is told it is there.
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Working remotely or working at the office? Choices for the modern workplace.

Photo: Tom Foremski

The Omicron surge has forced businesses to again delay a date for a return to the office. And that means a delay to an inevitable showdown: between workers and managers over remote or office-based work.

To a degree, every business will have by now adapted to the reality of a hybrid workplace and the fact some staff will remain home-based while others will come back to the office. 

Any business that cannot offer a hybrid workplace will face problems in recruitment during this worker shortage. And problems in developing in-house, the skills of managing a modern workforce.


For work at home advocates the future looks rosy. With the current jobs boom it looks certain that they'll get what they want – either at their current employer — or somewhere else. 

But will workers agree to allow their employer to monitor their home office activities? Is it something that can be refused or not? How is the home different from the office where people can be seen to be working at their desks, engaged in meetings, and logging into their IT systems? 

Do remote workers have a right to refuse to be monitored? 

Digital.com released a survey late last year that found widespread use of remote worker monitoring software especially in IT (77%) and advertising (83%). 

One in seven workers hadn't been told about it. 

Working from home might not be such a wonderful thing when you consider that people worked harder – a 10% boost in productivity was reported in the survey after the software was installed. 


Being away from the office can be very isolating and cause anxiety by being out of the informal communication loops.

Further anxiety comes from the jobs that aren't hourly paid – how many hours is enough to prove your worth? You'll be competing against the unknown productivity of your colleagues.  

You'll feel pressured to go the extra distance especially since 88% of employers said they had fired people based on their remote work reports.

Work from home might even become the norm for some organizations because if done right, they get a lot more productivity – and also they can confidently outsource some of their operations for big savings. 

The home could easily become a dismal backwater for remote workers, always-on and always watching. I'd rather leave all that at the office, imho. 

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