It wasn’t so long ago that contact center managers identified technology issues or measured productivity by observing how many people were standing up in their cube. A pre-pandemic visit to a customer’s contact center left me with this most distinct memory – a warehouse full of 700 agents being monitored by 14 managers, 20 operations people and 6 technologists from a platform raised 20 feet above the contact center floor. One of the managers said “I can see all of their screens and know if someone is working on fantasy football instead of their job. If I see more than 30 people standing up in their cube at once, I know there is a technology problem.”
This kind of situational assessment cannot be done with decentralized contact center teams working from home. Or can it? The pandemic produced new levels of demand for tools that monitor employee performance and productivity from afar. As a result, remote administration software, which has been around for quite some time, has been repackaged for front-line contact center supervisors. On the surface, these applications address some critical productivity concerns, but do they cross ethical lines while doing so?
Some believe that they do with features bordering on voyeurism. Functionality like capturing every keystroke, taking screenshots of employee screens, and remotely activating microphones and cameras to monitor remote environments both inside and outside of office hours can give anyone the creeps. Oddly enough, these same tools often adhere to strict customer data security and regulatory requirements. The ethical and legal implications of these technologies are not yet fully understood but as privacy regulations evolve, the potential misuse, whether intentional or not, could land organizations in legal hot water.
As adoption of productivity monitoring tools grows, contact center teams must define how to balance their need for transparency with ethics. I call this ethical transparency, or the ability to monitor for disruptions that impact customer experience and workforce productivity without crossing the very thin line of employee rights.