Staff monitoring is on the increase

Office workers face the threat of increasing control, monitoring, scrutiny and micro-management, according to a new report.

Supply chain technology developed for monitoring goods is now being applied to individuals instead of products, warns research from the London School of Economics (LSE).

The report, entitled The Future Role of Trust in Work, is based on a long-term study initiated by the LSE and software giant Microsoft in October 2003.

It argues that outdated command and control management culture is causing managers to misuse technology, over-scrutinising worker performance. This means employees are reacting to communication from employers rather than interacting with customers – therefore ultimately damaging UK productivity.

Carsten Sorensen from the LSE said that British business needed to find new ways of managing people in the face of the changing technologies at work.

“Workers need a new deal,” he said. “We cannot assume as white-collar workers we have complete freedom. However, bosses cannot manage as they have before by command and control – there is simply too much information in a modern technology-driven service economy.

“Outdated management practices such as these are causing the continuing productivity gap between the UK and continental Europe,” he added. “We need to trust people more.”

Ian Brinkley, head of the economic and social affairs department at the TUC, said that workers were becoming unhappy with levels of control.

“Recent research from the ESRC (The Economic and Social Research Council) found that job satisfaction has fallen over the past 10 years because employees feel that they have more and more people looking over their shoulder,” he said. “We need to rebuild trust, share risk and move to more partnership in the workforce.”

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