HSM Spotlight: Monitoring productivity with tech

Across roles, industries, and incomes, more and more employees are being tracked, recorded, and ranked.

What is gained? Organisations say efficiency and accountability. What is lost? Trust between managers and their people.

The pandemic and mass uptake of remote working saw the development and increasing use of digital productivity monitoring.

In a time where in many aspects of our working lives we are seeing the power balance shift towards employees, this undoubtably represents a significant expansion of the power of the employer.

As this article in The New York Times explains, this technology has made it possible for organisations to track every move their people make — how much time they spend in meetings, what tasks they are doing, how often they step away from their desks and whether they’re working late into the evening or early in the morning.

With the increased pressure of managing in a hybrid environment and fear of failure, managers have unrealistic expectations and pressure from above, forcing them to prioritise performance metrics, and retreat to what they know.

Personally, when working, I take time to write things on paper, think about things in my head or work through projects with other people in the office. These are all activities which it would be fair to say that I am working but wouldn’t be tracked as such. If organisations are using digital productivity monitoring tools as an accurate measure for individual outputs, is it fair that the tools used do not account for all working styles?

At HSM Advisory, we know that hybrid working has transformed the role of trust within organisations. Previously managers were able to manage by seeing their team in the office. Now, managers have to trust their team without the immediate visibility and proximity. Building trust when not being in close proximity will be a challenging and new concept for many leaders. Leaders now need to develop digital-first skills and think of how they can take care of their workforce, and build trust from both the perspective of their people and their leaders.

How do you feel about being tracked and reported on your online productivity at work? I would be interested to hear from you. You can email me here or connect with me on LinkedIn here.