VMware shared results of a global study, revealing the rise in employee performance and trust established in new hybrid working models could be under threat from an increase in the implementation of remote monitoring measures.
The study, “The Virtual Floorplan: new rules for a new era of work,” conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of VMware, found that 70 percent of companies surveyed have either already implemented or are planning to implement employee surveillance measures to monitor employee productivity since the shift to hybrid working. Among these organisations, the measures being taken include the monitoring of emails (44%), web browsing (41%) and collaboration tools (43%), as well as video surveillance (29%), attention tracking via webcams (28%) and keylogger software (26%). However, 39 percent of companies that have already implemented device monitoring, and 41 percent that are currently in the process of doing so, are in fact seeing “drastically increased” or “increased” employee turnover.
The research findings suggest there is a delicate balance to be struck as businesses look for new ways to assess employee performance beyond presence. From the employee perspective, three quarters (75%) agree that moving to a distributed working environment has meant that their performance – and not traditional metrics such as time spent in the office – is being valued more by their employers. Also, 79 percent of employees agree that remote work technologies have enabled them to work more efficiently than before. Seventy four percent of organisations have had to develop new ways to measure employee productivity. Among these organisations, the new approach to monitoring productivity has been achieved through the use of performance-focused solutions including regular catch-ups with managers to discuss workloads (55%), assessing output and agreed deliverables (53%) and using new project management software (47%).
However, now that direct reports are not necessarily sitting a few cubicles away, employers are evolving new ways to monitor and quantify employee productivity. While six in ten (59%) employees recognise that their organisation has had to develop new ways to monitor productivity as part of the move to hybrid working, transparency remains critical. A quarter of employees (24%) don’t know whether their organisation has implemented monitoring systems on their devices in order to monitor their productivity.
“Globally we are seeing organisations shift permanently to hybrid work models that don’t require knowledge workers to be office-based all the time. With this shift, employers should proceed with caution when replacing presence with monitoring tools. Monitoring and performance are two very different things,” says Shankar Iyer, senior vice president and general manager, End-User Computing, VMware. “Digital workspace tools enable people to work from anywhere and our research shows employees are feeling more valued and trusted. A lack of transparency and measurement by ‘stealth and numbers’ can quickly erode employee faith and lead to talent heading for the door, in a highly competitive and challenging skills market.”
Employee surveillance is one of many topics touched on in The Virtual Floorplan study. Key findings include that:
- New ‘workplace tribes’ have emerged via digital tools used by employees. The stabilisation of hybrid work has resulted in a new kind of office floorplan — a “virtual floorplan,” which is based more on affinity, shared goals and shared values than physical proximity. The virtual floorplan comes with new rules as well as new success factors for employees, leaders and teams. View the infographic.
- We’ve entered a new era of transparency and trust. With less central control and in-person interaction, transparency and trust are emerging as vital qualities that leaders must embrace to advance and unify their organisations in a hybrid-by-default world. View the infographic.
- Security is a team sport. The virtual floorplan introduces countless freedoms for employees — and just as many security risks for IT. With less direct control over apps, devices and networks, IT is navigating a new paradigm where security is a team sport. View the infographic.
An executive summary of the study can be downloaded here.
VMware commissioned a survey, undertaken by an independent research organisation, Vanson Bourne, in July and August 2021. Seven thousand six hundred (7,600) respondents were surveyed globally.