Big Brother comes to Barclays: Sensors track employees' desk time
- Barclays of London caught investment staff off guard when they discovered sensors were tracking their desk time, Bloomberg reports. The London bank installed black boxes under workers' desks to determine how much time they were spending there. The tracking devices, called OccupEye, record workers' desk time using sensor motion and heat.
- According to Bloomberg, Barclays notified the union and staff before phasing in the sensors' installation, but workers claim they don't remember being informed and that they felt their whereabouts and productivity were being traced. In an all-staff memo, the bank denied their claims, saying that the sensors were a cost-saving measure to examine the use of office space, eliminate less-occupied areas, reduce energy consumption and adopt a more flexible work environment.
- Bloomberg says more investment banks are using sensors to track how much time analysts, traders and salespeople are spending with clients, and that the sensors are causing controversy in the finance industry.
Honest and upfront communication with employees can ward off potential problems later on, regardless of the industry.
A study by Kollective’s Generation Now shows that 79% of employees get their information from the grapevine instead of company leaders. Just as technology is effectively used to collect workplace data for analyses, employers can use communication technology to keep workforces updated on myriad issues.
Barclay's alleged interest in cost-efficiency is important, too. The rise in remote and mobile work and a desire for more flexible work schedules are driving the reconfiguration of office space. But employers must be mindful of measures that could cause controversy and keep affected workers informed.