Implementing Smart Technology While Respecting Employee’s Privacy

Yet a major drawback of the use of these smart technologies has been a loss of privacy for employees. Smart systems often require greater control over the work lives of staff members. One example is employee tracking. Employers use tracking technology to monitor employees who are working remotely. By tracking their whereabouts, employers can make sure They are properly resourced to complete work . But this process requires what could be seen as a significant invasion of privacy.

Of course, employee privacy concerns need to be a top priority for employers, but discarding smart technology is not the answer. Instead, companies need to find the right balance between implementing smart systems and maintaining respect for employee’s privacy.  

Employers that are able to empower their staff to understand the importance and benefits of smart technology will better realize the productivity gains that smart technology provides, without compromising the privacy of the workforce.

Education is Key

The rise of smart technology has splintered workers into two groups: those who can learn from new technologies and those who cannot. Unable to grasp the full benefits of new systems,  some employees develop Luddite tendencies instead of learning to work cooperatively with labor-saving technologies.

Providing employee education regarding smart technologies will alleviate much of the distrust, especially around privacy. Training employees on new technologies can be costly, but in the long run it will build employee trust and lead to faster adoption throughout the company.

Ongoing information sessions and handouts can engage even the most tech-weary employees. These sessions should go beyond the technology and focus as well on improving employees’ understanding of privacy rights, specifically regarding what companies are and aren’t allowed to collect as well as what companies can do with that information. 

Engaging workers on both the technological and policy front gives them a sense of understanding that will go a long way to helping them accept and effectively use smart technologies. With the right knowledge, employees will be empowered to accelerate the process of digital adoption.   Employees also need to understand that the information is being used to help them, and not to monitor their use of restrooms, breaks, or other personal information. 

Worker Led Adoption

As the cogs that move the day-to-day operations of a company, employees often know best what change is needed in their workspace. Working together employers and employees can find the best methods to apply smart technologies that protect employee privacy. So, not only can employees provide you with information about how to best implement start technologies, involving them in the decision process will also engender buy-in on their part. 

Armed with accurate knowledge about the benefits of smart technologies, employees will eventually come to the conclusion that adopting smart technology is really in their best interests. Smart technologies allow employees to work more efficiently, to find materials faster, to avoid dangerous work situations, and generally improve productivity and lower stress levels.   For example, helping employees understand where vital co-workers are may make them more effective in completing their own jobs.  We see this in Healthcare as well as industrial environments.  

Employees should clearly be part of the decision-making process around how the company can use smart technology, including location-based tracking, to improve company processes. Not only will this help your company avoid privacy concerns, but it will also improve the process of smart tech implementation for everyone.

Case by Case

Privacy can mean different things to different people. Remote employees might have different privacy concerns from those of office or factory staff. There’s something about working from home that makes employees even more protective of their private lives. For instance, remote workers who run errands in the middle of the day may not want tracking systems following them on their journey, or viewing them as they pick up their kids from school.

In the same way, factory floor staff might prefer tracking that doesn’t include specific personal information: the company can monitor how many people are in what part of the facility, but not specifically who is where. Working in concert with employers, staff can provide useful feedback about how smart technologies can best be used to improve workflow without harming privacy issues.

Trusting employees with technology reveals the real issue at the heart of privacy concerns: trust. Building trust between employees and new forms of technology also means building trust with the managerial staff in control of all that data. Companies built on cooperative empowerment will see a more seamless transition into smart technologies.

 

Tom Ruth, VP of Quuppa Americas

 

This article was originally published here

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