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April 10, 2017
How much control over the workplace is too much?
Michael Grant

With modern technology, it’s possible to control a huge number of parameters inside the office, from simple physical factors like temperature or composition of air to detailed studying of personal performance and even health of employees. Digital tracking definitely brings a whole array of unique advantages, but there is an argument to be made that a reasonable limit to automation and interactivity shouldn’t be exceeded. Admittedly, this is a slippery slope, especially since most of the aforementioned technologies are brand new, and the pool of empirical data to draw from is still very modest.

Here are some facts to think about when pondering whether to pursue additional control over your business facilities through high-tech solutions:

Investment in technology is good, over-investment isn’t

The benefits of automation and optimisation include; higher productivity, slower depreciation of material assets and a better public image. Companies that follow contemporary trends and equip their offices with features like oxygen regulation systems or smart light controls stand a better chance of succeeding in the long term. However, it can take time for improvements to bear fruit and companies should invest carefully in the enhancements that are widely documented to provide a good ROI.

Allowing employees some personal space

Privacy is understandably one of the most sensitive issues related to implementing smart monitoring systems. While it’s understandable that business owners want to track the whereabouts and activities of their workers, going too far in this direction might be counterproductive. Employees will appreciate you getting the latest hardware and software to keep their environment safe and healthy, but only as long as they don’t feel cornered by it. That’s why you should avoid putting too many cameras too close to desks or leisure areas, and maybe consider conducting a poll among your employees before tightening the procedures.

Ethical management is essential

In the end, every technology carries some potential for abuse, but this can be prevented with responsible behaviour by the people in charge. If management truly has employees’ best interests at heart, smart office monitoring systems can be used as a powerful tool for building long-term loyalty within the workforce. However, those managers who insist on hands-on control over trivial details might be disappointed by the results they get from this approach. Technology isn’t a replacement for trust, and it can become an obstacle rather than communication aid if the overall context isn’t right.

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