He refused to keep his webcam on, so the company fired him


Is constant monitoring warranted?

Picture: Victory

If only you could see me now, you couldn’t handle your emotions.

more Technically incorrect

But it may still be the case when you get to the end of this story.

For this, you see, is the story of a remote employee who did not like being ordered to keep his webcam on. All the time.

Maybe you can understand his feelings. Who really likes to be watched all day when they’re in the comfort – or, indeed, confined – of their own home? Certainly not this anonymous employee of a software company called Chetu.

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His bosses asked him to attend something called a corrective action program.

I don’t know about you, but I would have been tempted to quit the minute I heard that name. Who could ever imagine that a corrective action program would be an entertaining, even challenging idea.

In this case, the NL Times reported that employees had to log on all day, with their webcams on. Oh and screen sharing, too. Yes, it was a virtual training program, but doesn’t that sound like a lot?

The employee, who worked in telemarketing, replied: “I don’t feel comfortable being watched nine hours a day by a camera. It’s an invasion of my privacy and I feel really bad comfortable. That’s why my camera isn’t on. You can already monitor all the activity on my laptop and I’m sharing my screen.”

You could imagine he was right. You could also imagine that the company was not happy.

The man who defended his privacy was accused of “insubordination” and the very curious “refusal to work”.

Maybe many employees would just accept that. Perhaps most of these employees are in the United States. This particular employee, however, was in the Netherlands.

Also: Work from home? Your boss has a creepy new way to spy on you

So he took corrective action.

He sued Chetu and, you might be happy to hear, won $75,000.

The court’s conclusion is invigorating: “The employer did not sufficiently specify the reasons for the dismissal. Moreover, there was no evidence of a refusal to work, nor of a reasonable instruction. Instruction to leave the camera on. violates the employee’s right to privacy. »

All of this leads to a fascinating question.

Is there a time when an employer really, really needs to monitor an employee? Constantly, that is.

What part of management should involve constant control and monitoring and how much should revolve around trust and results?

This is a problem that has become acute during the pandemic. More and more companies are investing in monitoring software because, well, why? They were afraid that the employees would slack off at home? They were afraid that the employees would not dress up? Or simply because they were inherently suspicious of organizations?

Also: Are the bosses spying on you? Here is the most disastrous truth about monitoring software

Remote work has unquestionably changed a lot of business dynamicsespecially in times of relatively full employment.

Employees can not only choose where they work, but also how they do it. So shouldn’t bosses focus on results, motivation and atmosphere rather than endless spying?

In this particular case, every work-related action of the employee was already monitored and recorded. Wasn’t that enough? Wasn’t that, in fact, already too much?

One cannot help but conclude that managers need to find new and different ways to manage, as employees have found new and different ways of working.

Constant spying just isn’t it.


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