This is what Sheffield business leaders think about using software to measure staff productivity in lockdown

Sheffield business leaders say spy software that measures productivity during lockdown damages trust and decreases staff motivation.

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Bosses believe the measure - being considered by up to a fifth of firms - could distract from bigger issues. And it shouldn’t be necessary at those which are well run.

A Skillcast survey of 2,007 companies found 20 per cent had already introduced ‘remote tracking’ or were considering it.

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Data protection expert David Sant, of Harper James Solicitors in Sheffield, warned companies must make sure workers were made aware of any software being used, or risk breaking the law.

David Sant of Harper James.David Sant of Harper James.
David Sant of Harper James.

Debating the issue on David Walsh’s LinkedIn page, Ian Rands, head of commercial support at law firm DLA Piper, said: “If you can't trust your employees, then why are you employing them?

“It suggests that there is a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with, regardless of where that person works from.”

Steve Pownall, group sales and marketing manager at Sheffield IT firm Deeper Than Blue, believes if management can’t trust their teams, then teams can’t trust their management. And people should be judged by their results.

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He added: “Surely people’s output can be easily monitored, as well as their availability and participation on calls and in responding to emails without the need to create distrust, which in my opinion only serves to decrease motivation and results.

“Ruling with fear will only get you so far, and not usually where you want to be.”

Nik Pratap, managing partner and senior finance recruiter at Pratap Partnership, said lack of trust in employees was the ‘mental block’ that stopped many businesses allowing remote working before the pandemic. But the past year had shown many employers that this mistrust was not justified.

He added: “Placing spyware between employer and employee may be right in some circumstances but sets a poor foundation for most organisations.”

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Peter Jow, managing director at Progressive Safety & JCB Workwear, said it was part of micro-managing staff, which did not get the best out of people.

“Surely there are enough ways to measure employee performance without this? I believe that the vast majority of people can be trusted and want to work hard. Let’s give people allowances and help them to do a good job. They should be judged on outcomes.”

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