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NZers Push Back On Monitoring Technology When Working From Home – New Approach To Performance Management Required

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 27 October 2021 – New Zealanders 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, Unisys experts advise.

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 New Zealanders do not support monitoring measures regardless of whether it is for productivity, security or support purposes.

% Not ComfortableIf your employer allowed you to work from home but required a certain level of monitoring, which if any would you be comfortable with?
59%log in and log out times
69%web browser history on a company-owned device
72%mandating webcams are turned on for videoconference meetings to see if attendees are paying attention
73%response times of software applications you use in your role to quickly identify IT issues that might impact you
73%to ensure that only you were using your work computer
82%your computer screen
83%keyboard activity level throughout the day
84%your computer camera to use facial recognition to authenticate that it is you sitting at your computer
85%access to your login passwords
85%web browser history on a personal device that you use for work
90%your microphone
Credit: Unisys Corporation

The level of comfort with having log in/out times monitored decreases with age, from 46% of 18-24 year olds down to 40% of 55-64 year-olds. Conversely, people aged 18-24 years are the age group least comfortable with employers monitoring their browser history on company or personally owned devices, if they were using their work computer, their keyboard activity and their software response times. Self-employed, small business owners are the most comfortable with monitoring.

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 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.

Personal Experience Drives Privacy Agenda 
The 2021 Unisys Security Index for New Zealand, the overall measure of security concerns of the New Zealand public, is 140 out of 300, up four points from 2020 and the highest since 2017. Even so, it is the fourth-lowest level of concern of the 11 countries measured. The top three security concerns for New Zealanders are data/privacy related: identity theft (52% of New Zealanders concerned about this issue), hacking and viruses (51%) and bankcard fraud (49%). Whereas natural disasters, including pandemics, had been the top concern in 2020, concern about hacking and viruses and identity theft recorded the greatest increases (+11 points and +9 points, respectively) over the last year.

Andrew Whelan, vice president client management, Unisys in Asia Pacific, said, “Consumers’ concerns are driven by their personal experiences. CERT NZ reports that phishing and credential harvesting remains the most reported type of cyber incident, and that ransomware is the fastest-growing category. Last year’s fears of the unknown around COVID-19 have been replaced by the data loss and privacy threats that many Kiwis have personally experienced over the last year. This will have factored into employee unwillingness to allow employers monitor them when working from home.”

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 New Zealand, 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. More results and information on the 2021 Unisys Security Index visit UnisysSecurityIndex.co.nz.

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.

Follow Unisys on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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