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In What Way Does Survillance Operate in the Workplace.

Workplace Surveillance Techniques and Tools

A workplace is the set locality from where one performs their work. This can range from a small office to big industry. Surveillance, on the other hand, is a keen observation of the activities as they occur. Workplace surveillance, therefore, deals with an observation of the real-time events in the workplace in a bid to control activities of the employees. Workplace surveillance exists in some forms and the management have to choose which suits their need best. Surveillance tools come in handy to aid them since they cannot be everywhere in the company at the same time yet are expected to account for the events that occur inside the company. This paper highlights ways in which surveillance operates in the workplace. It also reviews theories revolving around this kind of surveillance and what it achieves.

Computers are an essential part of current day business environments. It becomes very hard to work without computers. They provide excellent features beginning from data collection to data manipulation (Prodnik, 2012, p. 773). In the sector of workplace environment surveillance, computers are used to achieve this goal efficiently. This is through a number of the excellent features that it offers. They can track employee usage of the computers and report such information to the employee using defined paths not known by the employee. The computer technologies and programs that help to attain these goals are discussed in the following pictures.

Employers use computer monitoring programs and software to take record of activities that the employees do in the workplace. A packet sniffer is a type of such a technology. This is programmed to monitor data moving over a network. It monitors both incoming and outgoing contents and reveals whatever activities are happening over the network. This program takes note of all sites visited, emails and downloads from the sites. Some employers also use software that denies access to certain sites and filters the content to be looked at from online sources.  Employees who use the internet in the workplace to further their own activities over work-related activities cannot escape the trap of this program hence are identified by the employer. This is a measure to ensure that employees do not pass any unauthorized information or does not during unnecessary stuff during working hours.

Keystroke counting is also useful in surveillance. This one deals with keeping track of keystrokes on the keyboard. This can be used to reveal the actual level of activity especially when there are a lot of data to be inputted into the computer. This also reviews the content typed into the computer and will encourage only work-related inputs on the part of the employee. The employee may use this tool to monitor the progress of an employee in completing keyboard intensive tasks like typing into a word document. It also improves the speed of the employee towards completion of tasks because they have the notion that their employer is observing them. It is also a measure towards saving the computer from being abused to be used to further personal interests.

1. Computer Monitoring

Desktop monitoring is yet another tactic of real-time monitoring activities done over the computer. It records all manners of inputs and reveals the display on the monitor (Hintz et al., 2017, p. 735). The employee at will can view this, and it shows all the activities that the employee engaged in over the computer. The employer installs desktop monitoring software, and the employee is not in a position to know that their employers are monitoring their activities. This is also used to indicate the amount of activity spent on the computing and the overall length of idle time spent while at work.

Employers can also monitor employee activities through listening in on phone conversations. The customer service desk in the business setup has a telephone through which calls to the firm are received or made. There is need to offer quality assistance to callers as this is what helps to build good relations between the company and the customer. When employees listen to such calls, they want to ensure that customers are being served properly and this will go a long way towards monitoring the quality of service (Roulin, 2014, p. 87). The telephone call accounting system is also employed for surveillance at the workplace. This one records all aspects about a call and the length of a call as well as the destination. The length of call helps the company to regulate the amount of time spent on calls which are not of business nature. This holds the employee accountable for any calls they make using the firm’s telephone lines. It prevents the employee from making any unwarranted calls because they will have to account for the information that was discussed. This one instills discipline on the employee since they will not want to be held accountable for any unnecessary calls. The employee, therefore, cannot use office materials for their own interest.

There is also the need to track employee movements within the work environment. Smart cards are used for this purpose (Ash et al., 2018, p. 37). They record movements of the employee from one place to another in the workplace. This monitoring is important in ensuring that the employee sticks to their workstations. This comes handy to save the employers the burden of paying employees who made only technical appearance at the workplace and disappear. This is a big step towards discouraging absenteeism from the workplace. This kind of surveillance as being installed even in vehicles and it keeps track of the places that the driver goes to and mileage. With this, it becomes very difficult for drivers to drive to places that they were not expected to go to.

2. Keystroke Counting

Video cameras installed in specific regions in the workplace help monitor employee movements and activities. The popular Closed Circuit Television captures real-time images in a very clear manner and can be viewed to identify behaviors in employees (Rodríguez et al., 2017, p. 830). This records real-time events and is meant to shun illegal practice like involving in corruption and assaults. Employees will find it hard to steal company property under the watch of the cameras. It can be used as evidence in courts to show the real-time events in case an employee is accused falsely in the workplace. With these cameras installed, it becomes very difficult to engage in authorized practices.

Employee surveillance is supported by some theories that try to defend workplace surveillance. One such theory is the Social Contract Theory. This theory casts responsibilities upon the shoulders of employees. They are employed and are paid in exchange for the services that they offer. They must, therefore, be willing to have their activities censored to keep them on track from doing whatever is wrong. By being employed, they should put away certain privacy rights that will enable the employer get the best from them. They, therefore, substitute their privacy for the financial considerations.

The management theory also tends to support surveillance. This theory concerns itself with creating a link between the employer and the employee. The two groups of people have to coexist without one feeling sidelined. For the manager to dispense their duties, they have to oversee the whole organization and do all according to what is acceptable. Surveillance of the working environment requires that the manager be up to date and have relevant data concerning the company. The data collected is very useful because it forms the basis for decision making and employee appreciation.

Surveillance is very important in the workplace. This is because it leads to efficiencies in time management. The employees will be aware that they are being monitored and therefore will not take much time doing unnecessary stuff in the workplace. This will lead to greater efficiency and increased profitability as there will be reduced preference to leisure. Proper time management will ensure that the employees work to their optimum devoting much time for the job above everything else. Since surveillance also measures the amount of time spent actively in the workplace, it can be used to calculate active time and idle time which are necessary aspects when it comes to wage calculation (Allmer, 2011, p. 837).

3. Desktop Monitoring

Workplace surveillance is also important towards understanding how employers interact with customers. This kind of interaction is what can drive sales or drive customers away. The information can then be used to improve the quality of service and ensure that the employees represent the best interest of the company (O'Brolcháin et al., 2016, p. 6). This can then be used to identify resourceful employees to the organization. For every business, the customer has to come to the center of the business.

Although workplace surveillance provides a bundle of advantages to the employer, it also has undesirable effects on the employee. This is because it infringes on their privacy. This is likely to result in resentments that they even hinder performance. The employee may feel under pressure when constantly under watch or have the activities they do under watch.

Conclusion

In summary, some theories shun surveillance because it infringes on the rights of people of having a sense of privacy. It can also make employees lose psyche since they are sure that the management is monitoring them. Surveillance at workplace takes some forms which can be subdivided into three major categories which include; use of computers, use of cameras and use of telephone system. These forms provide very useful features to study employee behavior and result in increased sales for the enterprise.

List of References

Allmer, T 2011, 'Critical Surveillance Studies in the Information Society', TripleC (Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation): Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 566-592.

Ash, J, Kitchin, R, & Leszczynski, A 2018, 'Digital turn, digital geographies?', Progress In Human Geography, 42, 1, pp. 25-43, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

Hintz, A, Dencik, L, & Wahl-Jorgensen, K 2017, 'Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society', International Journal Of Communication (19328036), 11, pp. 731-739, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

O'Brolcháin, F, Jacquemard, T, Monaghan, D, O'Connor, N, Novitzky, P, & Gordijn, B 2016, 'The Convergence of Virtual Reality and Social Networks: Threats to Privacy and Autonomy', Science & Engineering Ethics, 22, 1, pp. 1-29, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

Prodnik, JA 2012, 'The "Austrian School of Critical Political Economy"? A Review of Thomas Allmer's Book "Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism"', Triplec (Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation): Open Access Journal For A Global Sustainable Information Society, 10, 2, pp. 771-774, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

Rodríguez-Jareño, M, Molinero, E, De Montserrat, J, Vallès, A, Aymerich, M, Rodríguez-Jareño, M, & Vallès, A 2017, 'Do workers' health surveillance examinations fulfill their occupational preventive objective? Analysis of the medical practice of occupational physicians in Catalonia, Spain', International Journal Of Occupational Medicine & Environmental Health, 30, 6, pp. 823-848, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

Roulin, N 2014, 'The Influence of Employers' Use of Social Networking Websites in Selection, Online Self-promotion, and Personality on the Likelihood of Faux Pas Postings', International Journal Of Selection & Assessment, 22, 1, pp. 80-87, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed 26 April 2018.

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