Tech

Working from home? Your boss is watching.

Coronavirus has shifted work away from the office, but not from prying eyes.

As companies across Europe and the United States order employees to work from home, the focus of the working day has shifted to messaging applications and conference call platforms.

But any sense that employees are flying under the radar is misplaced. Working from home may in fact increase workplace surveillance, as in-person conversations move to videoconferencing apps that tell your boss whether youre paying attention, or messaging apps that your boss can access.

Take Zoom: Use of the videoconferencing app has boomed as offices have closed. But what you may not know is that it has an “attendee attention tracking” feature that allows hosts to track if attendees click away from the app.

“Hosts can see an indicator in the participant panel of a meeting or webinar if an attendee does not have Zoom Desktop Client or Mobile App in focus for more than 30 seconds. In focus means the user has the Zoom meeting view is open and active,” reads a section of its help page.

Its not just video conferencing apps that will facilitate bosses Orwellian tendencies.

As knowledge of the feature has percolated, users have taken to Twitter to voice concern.

Mia Hamano, whose Twitter bio lists her as a product manager at brand consultancy Buffer, said Zooms attention tracking metric was “a bit extreme.”

“Often times I have other documents that Im looking at in Zoom meetings … so Im not necessarily going to be staring at a persons face for the entirety of the call,” she wrote.

Another popular conferencing app, UberConference, boasts on its features page that it provides users with a detailed transcript of their calls including who said what — and sends it straight to a note-taking app.

An empty newsroom of newspaper ARA in Barcelona | David Ramos/Getty Images

“UberConference will show you a quick conference summary after every call, as well as automatically email you a detailed report with a Voice Intelligence summary, transcript, call recordings, participant information and statistics, as well as a time log,” it says on its features page — a far cry from the sleepy morning meeting.

The app also gives users a breakdown of employees calling habits, from the number of calls they have made, to the average length of the call.

While these creepy features dont have to be used, the advice that some remote workers have been receiving suggests they will be.

The Wall Street Journal instructed its staff to “respond within just a few minutes” to Slack or Google Hangout messages and to let managers know if they are taking a break, in meetings, conducting interviews or if they will “otherwise be unavailable for a while.”

Its not just video conferencing apps that will facilitate bosses Orwellian tendencies.

Slack, a messaging platform aimed at workplaces, also has some features that should give you pause. One, if youre on a paid plan, is that it maRead More – Source