Balancing Employee Privacy with Business Productivity

Monitoring & Tracking your field employees during work hours can be effective but challenging to implement. On one hand employees have a right to their privacy. On the other hand businesses also have a responsibility to maximize productivity and efficiency for all stake holders i.e. customers, employees, vendors etc. During work hours it is critical for businesses to improve the performance of employees who are in the field performing vital tasks such as field customer service, freight deliveries, property management and emergency response etc.

As the article titled “Top 4 Reasons It’s Appropriate to Track Mobile Workers” by NetMotion Wireless explains, there are many reasons why businesses need to track mobile employees. They all have one thing in common. They all seek to improve some aspect of business operations in one way or the other. It could be enhancing security & privacy, better mobile team & asset management or assessing the effectiveness of mobile devices in the field. Office employees have always had to deal with such corporate policies when accessing emails, websites and attendance-logging. Similar policies now need to be enhanced and extended to include field employees who are 80% of their time outside the confines of the corporate offices at job sites using 3rd party networks and BYOD phones.

Even though the need to monitor the mobile workforce is critical for business, we at Abaqus believe that employee privacy is an equally important issue. One way to address it is to provide employees the ability to provide fine-grained privacy controls to the employees e.g. only track between 9-5pm, turn off monitoring when they are off work or running personal errands, only start tracking when the clock-in for the day etc. You can call this ‘permission based’ monitoring. It helps to build a level of trust with employees while letting them know that monitoring is necessary to improve business productivity.

In addition to business cost-savings, monitoring mobile employees can also enhance their own productivity. One example is the filling of time cards which employees have to do every day. Capabilities such as mobile time clock enable this task to be done automatically with an App that runs in the background on the employee’s phones, saving valuable time. Another example is the user of freight broker software to track drivers using their cell phones, enabling them to eliminate annoying check calls from dispatchers who want to know where they are at any given moment.

There will always be an ongoing debate about balancing employee privacy with business productivity. But having open communication with employees on this topic and providing them the flexibility to manage their privacy is a good place to start.