Of Course We Trust You…..But

Remember the obnoxious manager who used to sneak up behind you in your cubicle to try to catch you checking your email or putting in that last minute bid on eBay?  Then you elected to take the company option to work from home.  Thank goodness, no longer do you have to worry about Mister Nosey watching your every move at your desk.  Guess what – he’s back!  Electronic monitoring of home workers is an exploding trend. 

Latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that America has 28.7 million telecommuters, or “distributed workers”-those people who work for traditional companies but aren’t confined to traditional offices. That number is up from 10.9 million in 2000. Thirty percent of managers and professionals now work at home at least part of the time.  At IBM, 40 percent of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers can work from anywhere they choose. Sun Microsystems calculates that it’s saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want.

But at oDesk.com, the system for linking 90,000 freelance programmers, network administrators, graphic designers and writers with 10,000 client companies includes taking random snapshots of workers’ computer screens six times an hour, recording keystrokes and mouse clicks and taking Web cam photos at any time.  Home office phone calls are monitored to instantaneously detect anger, raised voices or children or pets making noise in the background.  At call center Arise.com, they keep their 8,000 home agents so tightly scheduled to their phones that the agents have to scheduled unpaid time off to go to the bathroom.  (And just a sidenote:  Arise.com’s trademarked company slogan is:  Work. Freedom. Trust. Results.®

Now let me ask you this:  When do you do your best work?  When someone obviously trusts you and has given you the responsibility for completing an important job – or when you are being watched like a first-grader who gets his hand slapped if he colors outside the line?   It’s been shown clearly that “distributed workers” are more productive, not less.  They save the company real estate and utility expenses; less gasoline is burned and food and wardrobe costs drop.  Everyone wins! 

But without trust, the whole system breaks down.  If you don’t trust your workers, then keep them in cubicles, watch their every move, give them limited time to get up and move around, ration their food and water and decide when they can leave the premises.  But wait – doesn’t that sound remarkably like prison?

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17 Responses to “Of Course We Trust You…..But”

  1. Rod R. Says:

    I suspect the “trust, results” part is what they want their customers to have, not their employees. Mottos are for marketing, not to tell you now they treat their employees. Outsourcing companies rarely are known for treating their employees well!

  2. edwincrozier Says:

    Trust is one of those things that is hard to give. Our society is plagued by dysfunctional families and dysfunctional relationships. Why be surprised when we find out that the dysfunction has found it way into our jobs.

    The three rules of dysfunction in any arena are…

    1) Don’t feel.
    2) Don’t talk.
    3) DON’T TRUST

    So, I’m not allowed to feel the way I feel. I’m not allowed to talk to anyone about it. Certainly, I can’t trust anyone because if I want something done right I have to do it myself and everyone else is out to stab me in the back, take the credit for my work or steal a little company time. The only way to overcome that is BIG BROTHER. But BIG BROTHER is pretty dysfunctional.

    Maybe you’re right. Maybe if we just learned to feel, talk and trust, we would find out that most folks are pretty good and we can all get the work done and the profits in together.

  3. Lowell Lane Says:

    I worked in the Yellow Pages industry for 12 years. After being micro managed and stressed out I quit. 4 years later I have returned to the Yellow Pages industry, but this time it is with a Christian company. Most days I am tele-commuting and making calls and appointments from my home office. They trust me to do what I have agreed to do and yet I have the freedom to make my own schedule. I love it.

    Praise the Lord!

  4. JDub Says:

    3 months ago I worked for a (telecommunications) company who put more time, effort, and money into monitoring the employees instead of focusing on their customers. Fortunately I got Dan’s book, No More Mondays, and it motivated and inspired me to press for something better. Now I’m working from home, no more insane employee monitoring. No more reporting to the “door nazi” every time I came back from lunch outside of the 11:00-12:00 time frame. No more justifying why I had to go to some particular website to do my job. No more being required to keep our chair mat at a 45 degree angle in the corner of the cube. Yes, they made us sit facing the corner.

    This is great! I have more freedom, I’m making more money, and I’m making my own hours and I’m loving it.

  5. James Says:

    I own a small business. I have four employees that work out in the field every day. I trust every one of them 100%. I haven’t always been able to say that. I’ve had several employees that have stolen from me. Not just a small item here or there but large items and of course large chunks of time.

    If I have an employee that I can’t trust then I’ve hired poorly. Since turning over my staff to a group of men that I trust our productivity has gone through the roof. I don’t have to spend my valuable time managing them. They are productive and I believe they truly enjoy coming in to work.

  6. Bruce Moeller Says:

    “Work. Freedom. Trust. Results” Hmm? I recently watched the dvd set of “Holocaust” and was reminded of the gates that gave entrance to the concentration camps of Hitler’s Europe. Arise.com’s slogan is eerily akin to “Arbeit machts frie” = “Work makes free.”

  7. Amy Says:

    Actually, the last paragraph also describes many elementary and middle school settings as well. It’s depressing.

  8. Chuck Says:

    I know exaclty how that prison enviroment feels. I used to be a poeple manager where we did just that. Breaks were limited to two per day at 15 mins each. Lunch was only 30 mins and it was required that you sign in and out a phone to take those breaks. I had to enforece a attendance poilcy where 1 minute late was LATE. This was a call center. I used to do the same work before I became a managers. I could not live with myself. I left that job for a more relaxed environment. But thanks to Six Sigma, the same crap is being applied here, only now I am not a manager, but one of them that is having to sign in and out. We too have the work at home option, but only for those that are hand picked to do so. Coroprate America is the worst place to work. Avoid call centers at ALL cost

  9. Vee Says:

    It seems to me there was more freedom working at the office.

  10. Sean Says:

    I agree Dan. I own my own Handyman business and every once in a while, I’ll get a client who will literally stand over my shoulder or at least sit in the same room and watch me work.

    It makes me uncomfortable an it is insulting. They called me to do something that they can’t do and then watch to make sure I’m doing it correctly…go figure.

    Anyway those clients are quickly removed from my list and fired. I have too many good clients that trust me, leave me to do my work and are thankful for what I do. And for those clients I always give them something extra for free while I’m there to show my appreciation.

  11. CT Says:

    Of course we trust you…..but IN GOD WE TRUST!

  12. Kat Bennett Says:

    Re your closing sentence/paragraph: I seem to recall some sort of humorous greeting card that pictured a group of irate office workers protesting on the front with the caption, “They can’t fire us . . .” and inside, “Slaves have to be sold!”

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of employers fail to realize that their most valuable assets are their employees — and trust is an integral part of that value.

  13. TM Says:

    I have had corporate jobs I enjoyed, but now I am blessed with an opportunity I love. I work from my home office for someone that is not as concerned about the quantity of time spent at my desk, but the quality of how I represent the company and the work that I do. As a result, I am even more compelled to do whatever it takes to meet and exceed those expectations. Isn’t that how it should be? In return I don’t have to rush out the door to stress in traffic, stress over whether or not I’ll be able leave work to make it to my child’s afternoon athletic event and I can pick them up from school and enjoy a snow day for a change! I am so thankful to God for this blessing every day. Now that my feet have hit the grass on this side of the fence, I’m not sure I could go back to the other side! I’m a free-range employee and lovin’ it!

  14. RWR Says:

    I’m officially designated as a work-at-home (WAH) employee by IBM. I love the fact that my boss only cares that my work gets done but IBM leaves me free to work flexible hours. In reality, I work many more hours/week than I would in a traditional office. But I have time to take my kids to events, stop and give them hugs, etc. It is hard to think about going to work somewhere else because the fringe benefits of working at home are awesome (especially with high gas prices). However, I’m aware that IBM has its own “spyware” on our corporate PCs. They do not monitor our PC usage, but this software allows them to collect data about non-productive employees. As long as I get assigned work done, they’ll never look at the data. But I can understand the thought making some uncomfortable.

  15. CJ Says:

    A company don’t need to track actions, only results. If the results aren’t there, it doesn’t matter if the actions are there or not.

    I would much rather have an effective employee than a constantly busy one. Often it’s the breaks that energize the high performers anyway.

  16. Tom Filipiak Says:

    It just goes to show you that “face time” is still important to some stupid management people. Your statement about trust is the key. I work hard regardless of whether my boss is watching me or not. How can I afford not to? So much is at stake and surely my boss and coworkers can tell if I am slacking off!?! I have so much work to do that 4 of me could stay busy doing it.

    By the way, I have to work in the office. I can get twice as much done at home but… they will not let me. They want me to be physically in my cubicle. Hmmm, too bad. Imagine how much I could get done at home!

  17. Faye Says:

    I have a great one…my boss (female) would follow me to the bathroom, stand outside the stall and ask ” how long I to you plan to be in there?”. She would also sneak up behind be as I sat at my desk and stare until I sensed her presence. I work hard because my mom taught me that it was the right thing to do. I suffered from extraordinary stress at this job and my health suffered greatly. Over the top monitoring does not make people work harder, smarter or better.

    Some dairy farmers claim that “great cheese comes from happy cows”. Why can’t employers understand that happy employees are more loyal and productive?.

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