Kiwis spied on working from home during first COVID-19 lockdown

Kiwis spied on working from home during first COVID-19 lockdown

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Auckland’s University of Technology (AUT) has revealed a study that shows working from home (WFH) employees were spied on or suspected as being spied on during New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown as the country moved from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1 which was from May — June 2020.

The study was taken across 1,300 New Zealand employees who were split evenly across gender. The age range of the study was from 19 — 70-year-olds, an average of 39 years. 

Over 1,000 employees were surveyed in the first month of lockdown. 250 others were studied one month later.


“Bosses beware: if you think your company will benefit from surveilling employees who work from home, think again.”

A large number of companies are using many different ideas to track how much time workers working from home are spending on the job.

AUT’s Professor Jarrod Haar says a new study from him shows that after New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown, employees felt more spied on or that the company they work for were spying on them while working from home.

52% reported that they felt that something wasn’t right and suspected spying.

62% reported that the most common spying tactic was their supervisor checking on them to control a current task for completion.

46% reported that they were being spied on through online monitoring.

Of those who did feel that something wasn’t right and suspected that spying was happening, the study shows that they were more likely to put more time and effort while working from home but had suffered depression and stress, also anxiety.

Professor Haar says that managers and supervisors appear to be ‘struggling’ with the almost instant change from working in an office to at home due to COVID-19. 

“The study shows attempts to monitor employees’ WFH activities have more drawbacks than advantages, harkening back to the old days of companies trying to command and control. Put, if organisations want to get the best of out their people, they need to trust them.”

“There is clear evidence that employees expect their company to trust them and not apply any ‘Big Brother’ mentally to their work from home,” says Professor Haar.

“Fundamentally, businesses that engage in such surveillance are eroding their workers’ trust and mental health – at a time when both are needed more than ever.”



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