Your Boss Is Surveilling You from Home

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The normalization of remote work has been one of the very few silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic, if it can be called that. Knowledge workers in particular have been calling for increased workplace flexibility for ages, and even though trying to function during an international outbreak of disease is a special circumstance, we now have some kind of proof that it can serve as a business model. Of course, it's not without its flaws — and maybe its perils.

Time management isn't an automatic skill even at the office, but when you're living in the same space where you're operating professionally, your work-life balance can go one of two ways. Your boss isn't necessarily going to trust that you're totally devoted to your job all day every day, though, which means remote-work surveillance tools have become about as widespread as remote work itself.

If you've been asked to download programs or apps like Hubstaff or TSheets, you already know that your supervisor may be tracking your computer usage down to the minute. These services can analyze how long you spend typing, where you're wasting time online, and even how long you're away from your desk. One New York Times reporter and his editor tried out the regimen for three weeks; both found it "icky." Of course, the eight-hour workday and the five-day work week aren't the only way to ensure productivity, but since more than one-third of U.S. workers hope to continue working remotely, it might make sense to get a handle on how accountability works right now.