23 Aug I told you so 🎶
Oh, I told you so . . .
On August 16th, I published “PRODUCTIVITY METRICS 😆 NAW, SURVEILLANCE,” which you can find here: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/2022/08/16/productivity-metrics-%f0%9f%98%86-naw-surveillance/
Two days later, Fortune decided to say, well, basically the SAME THING.
From the Fortune article:
“No longer able to crane their necks around the cubicle and check in on workers, more employers have turned to monitoring digital productivity instead. Eight out of the 10 largest private employers in the U.S. are tracking productivity metrics for their employees, according to an examination from The New York Times. Some of this software measures active time, watches for keyboard pauses, and even silently counts keystrokes.
J.P. Morgan, Barclays Bank, and UnitedHealth Group all track employees, The Times reported, seeing everything from how long it takes to write an email to keyboard activity. There are repercussions if workers aren’t meeting expectations: a prodding note, a skipped bonus, or a work-from-home day taken away, to name a few. (emphasis mine)
Yep. Warned y’all about that, too.
If you freelance or otherwise work for yourself, USE YOUR OWN TECH. If you use someone else’s technology, their accounts, their passwords, etc., it can open you up to liabilities if anything goes wrong. It also opens up a can of worms for them to be able to sit and watch everything you do, time your bathroom breaks, and so on. One of the things companies can do with this data is pay you for a project, screenshot everything you do, and then give that data to a cheaper freelancer to use as breadcrumbs. In other words, “Hey, here’s what this $100/hr person did. Now let’s get a $10/hr person to try to duplicate the same tactics for us.” If you escaped Corporate America to leave that mess behind, don’t turn around and bring it in to your own business.
“By the numbers: The survey also found that more than half of tech workers would not take a new job in their field if the company used a surveillance technique.
Roughly 7 in 10 tech workers said they believe their company does not surveil them at work.
Be smart: Employers have the right to do quite a bit of monitoring in the workplace, especially of what is happening with company gear.
But in a tight labor market, employees can also vote with their feet on what they are willing to put up with. And the equation changes a lot when, as is often now the case, an employee’s office is their home.”
As I said in my article about the Digital Panopticon, if you freelance or operate your own business, use your own tech. Periodt. There’s a whole host of yucky things a micromanager boss or client can “justify” if you are using their equipment in your home.
IMO, this is not a place where you should bury your head in the sand. Corpo America is feeling bolder and bolder about telling you what’s up.
Again from the Fortune article:
“For employers surrendering in the fight to return to the office, such surveillance is a way to maintain a sense of control.” (emphasis mine)
Other people are just all about control. You know, I also had a manager who said, ‘Some people care more about control than they do about money.’ And that is the God’s honest truth. You will encounter some people in the business world who, if given the choice between taking on something that’s very lucrative and doing what’s financially in their best interest or in micromanaging somebody and being very controlling and domineering, they would rather be controlling and domineering than make the money. They would rather have their boot on the back of your neck.
–https://www.buzzsprout.com/1125110/9074681 published August 26, 2021
Continuing from Fortune:
“Since the pandemic, many knowledge workers have fought for the freedom to work whenever and from wherever they choose. Most (95%) want flexibility in their hours, per a Future Forum Pulse survey. The idea is that remote work allows employees to have a longer leash, able to work on their core tasks within their own schedule.” (emphasis mine)
A longer leash. So now, if you are a W2 employee who works remotely, you are apparently also a dog who has been given a longer leash, but make nooooooooooooooo mistake about it. Corpo America sees itself as the Master holding that leash. 🤮🤮🤮🤮
“‘People don’t want a full, nine-to-five day of meetings,’ Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum, told Fortune in February.”
Well, no 💩. How can you get any actual work done if your entire day is meetings, whether they are F2F or on a garish Zoom call?
“While hybrid work has gained popularity recently, many employers are reluctant to give up the war for full-time attendance. Meanwhile, the number of people that want to go to the office full-time reached its lowest point in two years in July.”
This is another no 💩 moment for me. Hmm, it’s almost like most people don’t want to get dragged to hot yoga and listen to biographies in the car.
“Managers may be wasting time using productivity trackers just for the sake of it. Nervous remote employees may also be wasting a bit of time – data from Qatalag and GitLab found that knowledge workers spend about 67 extra minutes a day trying to prove that they’re online and not slacking off. The reality is that hybrid workers are the most productive, according to early research. They’re more likely than full-time remote or in-office workers to report feeling productive, engaged, and optimistic about their performance.”
Yeeeaaaahhhh. So, I’ll sum this up as best I can. Remember: this is just my opinion and I could be wrong.
➡️ The article itself says people who want to RTO hit an all-time low last month, then turns around and claims that hybrid work is best. Sorry, I don’t buy that. This is the same work style being dubbed a “hell of half measures.” I have predicted this before and will do so again: I think for offices not wanting to be as mercenary as Lord Elon, we will see a push towards hybrid work. Then when most people aren’t happy with it and it feels disjointed, those offices will say, “OK, fine. No more remote work. You are to be here, butt-in-seat, Monday through Friday or there’s the door.”
Here’s what I see playing out. I think a lot of these companies- some of them will just say, “Look: RTO or it’s your job.” They’re gonna go the Elon Musk route and just say, “Look, you either come back full time, eight to five, Monday through Friday, butt in seat in the cube farm, or there’s the door. Oh, and by the way, we’re in a recession. So choose wisely.” They’re either going to do that, or they’re going to do this hell of half measures hybrid bullcrap of, “Well, OK, come on back two or three days a week, we’ll give you some flexibility. We’ll let you choose some of those days or all of those days, but you know, we’re going to be butt-in-seat two or three times out of the week.” When everybody starts to complain about how that’s not working – it’s too chaotic, it’s too weird – sometimes Sally’s here. Sometimes she’s not. Sometimes I see Billy on Tuesdays. Sometimes I see him on Fridays. Things are just chaotic. They’ll say, “OK, great. Come on back permanently. There’s no more work from home. There’s no more remote.
–https://www.buzzsprout.com/1125110/11144066 published August 20, 2022
Hybrid work, IMO, will likely be used as a stepping stone to full-on RTO. Wait and see.
➡️ I used to know an Episcopal priest who had a sign up in his office, “Jesus is Coming. Look Busy.” I always thought that was pretty funny of a clergyman. Anyway, that’s what we have here. In order to make sure the mouse jiggles often enough, people have to waste time looking busy for the trackers. This goes back to control. It’s more important for us to keep that boot on the back of your neck and make sure you are aware of the Digital Panopticon than it is for you to have the tools you need to do a good job. Ha ha. Joke’s on you.
➡️ Ultimately, I think Corpo America will make it as inhospitable as possible for you to WFH in the long run. Some companies will remain remote, yes, and the competition for those jobs will be fierce. But will the majority of companies stay remote or mostly remote forever? I doubt it.
I’ve been ringing the alarm bell about this for quite some time. “If you don’t wanna toe the line and RTO, well, that’s fine fine, just fine. But we’re gonna make it as inhospitable as possible for you to WFH. So have fun with that!”
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