Is it proportionate to track your employees?

I have never worked in a call-centre, having sat at Level 2-3 IT support in my younger days, but I’ve worked very closely with first-line support and felt the pressure that they are under. Their challenge is process as many calls as possible in shortest time, yet maintain quality. This means that the driver to find ways to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) is strong for the business. The main KPI being length of call which is easy to measure, quality is more difficult.

This has lead to innovations on the tracking of call-centre employees by correlating the metrics on the calls they take with what the employee is doing on their computer screen. This brings us to the use of surveillance, which is not just cameras, but telecommunications made easier with voice over IP together with a piece of software to enable screenshots when the call is being taken.

Is this disproportionate? Me with my privacy hat, says YES. Although clearly to record these actions for a specific purpose, i.e. to train, and help improve quality, effectiveness, could be good. This is not only for providing a quality service, but also for the employees who want to be great at what they do!

Some great guidelines have been published by CNIL. It’s in French of course, but the translation is actually rather good.

privacy of personal e-mails accessed at work enforced in U.S. court

This is an interesting development in the U.S. on the rights of the employee to not have their emails read by their employer when the email account is private although accessed using a company PC.

Sex text prompts ruling on privacy – USA

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court is to rule on whether employees have a right to privacy when they send text messages on electronic devices supplied by their emloyers. 

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/enterprise/sex-text-prompts-ruling-on-privacy-20091215-kuoo.html

Covert surveillance of Deusche Bahn’s workers

Really interesting case on workplace surveillance in Germany. Deustch Bahn (railway operator) has been conducting covert surveillance operations without the consent of their employees. It involved covert surveillance operations that were given exotic code names such as “Babylon”, “Traviata” or “Prometheus” as well as a private detective agency.

Deutsche Bahn has submitted a 37-page report to the German government and parliament.  In the report, the Bahn admits that three major screenings took place in 1998, 2002/3 and 2005/6.

Although there’s talk of a legal “grey area”, some lawyers are convinced that Deutsche Bahn’s actions were illegal. “Screening the private data of employees and comparing this with the data of supplier companies is in accordance with German data protection law only if the employees themselves and the workers’ council agree with this beforehand.  And this was not done apparently. Read more it will be an interesting case 🙂