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Australians Push Back on Monitoring Technology When Working From Home – New Approach to Performance Management Required

Unisys Security Index™ finds majority of employees not comfortable with monitoring tech when working from home – regardless of purpose

SYDNEY, Australia 27 October 2021 – Australians may have allowed the office into their home, expedited by COVID-19, but they draw the line at employers using monitoring technology when working from home, according to the new Unisys Security Index™. The findings signal a need for new, outcome-based approaches to performance management and open conversations about privacy, acceptable purpose, trust and permission, a Unisys expert advises.

When asked if they would be comfortable if their employer allowed them to work from home but required a certain level of monitoring, the vast majority of Australians do not support monitoring measures regardless of whether they are for productivity, security or support purposes.

% Not Comfortable If your employer allowed you to work from home but required a certain level of monitoring, which if any would you be comfortable with?
62% log in and log out times
70% web browser history on a company-owned device
73% response times of software applications you use in your role to quickly identify IT issues that might impact you
75% to ensure that only you were using your work computer
76% mandating webcams are turned on for videoconference meetings to see if attendees are paying attention
81% keyboard activity level throughout the day
81% web browser history on a personal device that you use for work
81% your computer screen
82% your computer camera to use facial recognition to authenticate that it is you sitting at your computer
85% your microphone
85% access to your login passwords
Credit: Unisys Corporation

Overall, female Australians and self-employed, small-to-medium business owners are the least comfortable with monitoring measures. Whereas self-employed freelancers or gig workers with multiple clients are the most open to monitoring log in/out times, browser history, software response times and keyboard activity.

The 2021 Unisys Security Index for Australia, the overall measure of security concerns of the Australian public, is 159 out of 300, up two points from 2020 and the highest in the 15-year history of the study for Australia. The top four security concerns are data/privacy related: ID theft (59% of Australians concerned about this issue), hacking and viruses (57%), bankcard fraud (55%) and online shopping (49%). Whereas natural disasters, including pandemics, had been the top concern in 2020.

Time for New Approach to Employee Performance Management

According to Leon Sayers, director of Advisory at Unisys in Asia Pacific, “Privacy is a top concern and people are protective of their home space. While for many people, working from home offers benefits of less commuting time and more work-life balance, for others it is an imposition necessitated by the COVID response. Being mandated to work from home is not the same as volunteering for it. Employers must gain trust and permission to introduce monitoring technologies into that space. A two-way discussion is critical to successful organizational change management. And just because the technology allows you to do something doesn’t mean it is always appropriate.”

Sayers says it is time to re-think how managers monitor performance and productivity. “First you need to look at the type of role. What is more critical – the input (time spent on a task) or the output (the deliverable). For example, using technology to monitor how quickly call centre staff working from home answer a call and resolve a customer’s problem is a key metric of the role and service delivered to the customer. Whereas for other ‘knowledge’ jobs it would be more relevant to measure if they delivered something of the agreed quality by the required deadline – you don’t need to know when they logged in or how long it took them,” he said.

Not All Monitoring is ‘Big Brother’

Some monitoring measures offer positive benefits to employees – such as monitoring software response time so that the IT team can proactively fix impending issues before they impact you – called ‘intelligent IT support,’ or using facial recognition technology to quickly confirm that it is you sitting at your laptop, without you needing to re-enter your password.

“But adding new function and purpose to an existing tool requires a fresh conversation: We accepted webcams at home to aid collaboration – not security. Employers need to lead open discussions about the intended purpose and benefit of such measures if they are to be accepted in the home workplace. The willingness to use a technology is critical to the successful roll out of any digital transformation,” Sayers explained.

People aged 18-24 years are the least comfortable with having their log in/out times monitored (27% comfortable compared to 35% and higher for older age groups). However, younger people are more comfortable with proactive monitoring of software response times than older people, perhaps signalling the way the future digital workforce expects to be able to access the IT tools they need to do their job.

2021 Unisys Security Index: 15 Years and Counting

The longest-running snapshot of consumer security concerns conducted globally, the 2021 Unisys Security Index surveyed 11,000 consumers in 11 countries, including 1,000 in Australia, in July 2021. Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) gauged their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues dealing with personal, national, internet and financial security. For more results and information on the 2021 Unisys Security Index, click here.

About Unisys
Unisys is a global IT solutions company that delivers successful outcomes for the most demanding businesses and governments. Unisys offerings include digital workplace solutions, cloud and infrastructure solutions, enterprise computing solutions, business process solutions and cybersecurity solutions. For more information on how Unisys delivers for its clients across the commercial, financial services and government markets, visit www.unisys.com.

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Contacts:

Ryan Marnell, The Impact Agency
+61 434 616 894, ryan@impactagency.com.au

Claire Hosegood, Unisys Asia Pacific
+61 411 253 663, claire.hosegood@au.unisys.com

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