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Sneaky ways bosses can catch out work from home employees

Sneaky ways bosses can catch out work from home employees

Best to keep the juicy conversations for personal chats.

A few days ago, news spread about an Australian woman who lost her job of 18 years after the Insurance Australia Group (IAG) used keystroke technology to monitor her work productivity.

She was found guilty of missing work days, finishing early and starting late - along with failing a specific task that left her employer with a fine.

Now, other remote-working Aussies and around the globe fear they are being spied on by their employers when working from home.

However, workplace relations lawyer Michael Byrnes said it shouldn't come as a surprise to know that your work company is probably spying on you especially if you're using work computers and working from home.

'When you’re working from home, your home becomes the workplace,' Byrnes said.


'And employers have a right to monitor or survey you while you’re in the workplace, subject to workplace surveillance legislation.

'Pretty much all the employer needs to do is to give you notice that they are monitoring you - and they can do that by computer or even by camera.'

The lawyer highlighted several lesser-known ways that bosses can track and monitor their employees.

'They need to be careful about ensuring that they actually are working from home, doing what they need to do' he added.

Platforms like Slack, Microsoft, Google Workspace and Zoom all have their specific settings that make employee tracking quite easy.

The most universal is the online status feature which indicated whether employees are actually online, away from their desk or completely offline.

More specifically, tools like Slack allow managers to look through shared files and messages between employees - yes, these aren't private so best to keep the work complaints out of the work chat.

d3sign/ Getty
d3sign/ Getty

'Because there can be what’s called ‘Bossware’ on their computers which enables employers (to monitor workers) - like keystroke technology, determining whether you’re moving your mouse, even some camera technology to determine where you are at any given point in time, whether they’re actually at your computer working.'

It gets a lot more invasive when you look at software like InterGuard, Teramind, and TimeCamp.

Tools like these can monitor what social media apps you're using and how long you're using them.

Other apps like Hubstaff can take screenshots of your desktop to see if you're actually doing work stuff on your screen or just scrolling feeds to pass the time.

'Employers need to be aware this can be technology deployed by employers to determine whether or not you’re actually doing your job when you’re at home,' Byrnes concluded.

Featured Image Credit: LumiNola/d3sign/ Getty