Privacy Themes For Employees in Mobile Workforce Tracking

947-293_Privacy-ThemeThe proliferation of communication technologies has resulted in a work environment that uses email, cell phones, radio, and other channels that are subject to monitoring and tracking. An array of technologies and platforms makes workforce tracking easy and cost-effective, but not all devices are created equally. Safety and accountability are the primary goals of workforce monitoring, and the balance between surveillance and privacy is key. Digital two-way radios are an attractive option for dispatch-centric businesses and can reduce costs, limit distractions, increase durability and provide employees with a greater sense of privacy. In many ways, two-way radios are an excellent alternative to other methods of workforce tracking due to their non-invasive nature and easy-to-use technology. While every business is different, a product such as DispatchPlus is ideal for those looking for a reliable workforce tracking system that increases efficiency and workflow, while allowing the employee to turn off the tracking function during lunch breaks and time-off.

Monitoring the Mobile Workforce

The mobile workforce is often subject to monitoring, tracking and surveillance at a significantly higher level than a static workforce. In no small part, this trend is a result of the rapid growth of such a workforce that is expected to grow by 9.56% in the next five years—to 105.4 million workers in the United States, according to a report by solutions company Mobile Worker. An industry report by virtualization, networking and cloud computing giant Citrix estimates a 72 percent increase in the number of enterprise mobile devices. The large-scale adoption of enterprise mobility, the growth of local business, and their reliance on cellular, wireless and radio-based networks, means that a substantial percentage of workers conduct business while on the move. At any given time, the average mobile worker is entrusted with tens of thousands of dollars of company equipment—a leading argument for workforce tracking. However, ensuring workforce privacy as a fundamental right is also the responsibility of every ethical corporation.

Managing Efficiency

Tracking a field technician or delivery by physical, cell phone, tablet or wireless networks is a common practice that can help improve efficiency and lower the turnaround times of services. However, it is important for employers and employees to understand that the purpose of workforce tracking is not to “snoop” on employees but to ensure that due process and productivity are maintained in the field. A recent lawsuit in California highlights the privacy challenges that employers need to address. The case filed by the employee of a money transfer services company alleged that her employer had required app-based monitoring around the clock and tracked her movements after working hours. Consequently, responsible monitoring of a mobile workforce is not merely ethical, but an essential part of ensuring that the balance between tracking a worker’s performance or delays out in the field does not extend to malicious or intrusive surveillance. Several leading mobile workforce productivity platforms such as DispatchPlus allow tracking to be turned off during breaks and after work to protect an employee’s privacy.

Customer Responsiveness and Safety

Local businesses often invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, vehicles, and personnel in order to provide agile and responsive services to their clientele. For example, a utility repair firm or online retailer stands to lose thousands of dollars in case of delayed service calls or shipment deliveries. Workforce tracking enables these businesses to respond to such delays by sending in reserve field workers or diverting other technicians to cover for the delivery. On-the-ground tracking can also be used to inform clients of any expected delays and the estimated time of arrival. Tracking and monitoring services can mitigate the risks and losses incurred because of incidents such as vehicle or inventory theft, accidents, and other force majeure events. Workforce tracking via wireless radio and cellular networks is also essential to ensuring the safety of a mobile workforce. Businesses whose field workers routinely operate in dangerous environments or face events such as natural disasters rely on robust workforce tracking to identify how long an employee is in a potentially hazardous zone and use geofencing and routing capabilities to help avoid such zones.

However, it is vital that employee and client privacy takes precedence over efficiency and customer responsiveness. Creating a stable and robust combination of policies, practices and cross-departmental accountability frameworks involving Human Resources, Operations, Security, Risk Management and primarily, Senior Management is essential to ensuring the implementation of privacy themes for employees in workforce tracking.

Summary:

Businesses often walk the fine line between ensuring efficiency and employee privacy. Wireless and cellular network monitoring tools can help keep employees safe, ensure the optimum productivity, create a responsive contingency plan, and prevent the loss or theft of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. The rapid growth of the mobile workforce and the increased sensitivity to privacy requires smart productivity and tracking solutions that can be turned off in order to respect privacy. Mismanaged privacy can result in a wide range of adverse consequences including legal action. When managed ethically, workforce tracking can offer improvements in productivity, efficiency, safety, and accountability.

References:

https://www.privacyrights.org/workplace-privacy-and-employee-monitoring

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/employee-tracking-apps-raise-worker-privacy-questions-1.3075673

https://epic.org/privacy/workplace/gps-traking.pdf

http://employment.findlaw.com/workplace-privacy/privacy-in-the-workplace-overview.html

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/287040/Data+Protection+Privacy/Five+EmploymentRelated+Privacy+Issues+We+Are+Tracking+in+2014

http://mworker.com/number-of-mobile-workforce-is-exploding-in-u-s/

http://www.thelawinsider.com/insider-news/tracking-employees-gps-technology-privacy-vs-productivity/

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220313

http://www.forbes.com/sites/symantec/2014/10/07/securing-the-mobile-workforce-in-the-age-of-byod/