As a global accountancy practice comes under fire for reportedly developing a facial recognition tool for City firms to monitor home-working staff when they are away from their computer screens, a company specialising in workplace change, says it’s not the answer.
Angela Love, from Reading-based Active Workplace Solutions, said: “COVID-19 has presented new challenges in managing unseen workers. However, facial recognition tools to monitor home workers is not the answer. I would never advocate such an approach.
“This simply screams ‘we don’t trust you’. If an employee believes they aren’t trusted then a business will never get the best out of them. There are more engaging ways to keep track of home workers. We have all seen the benefits video conferencing has had throughout this pandemic.
“Weekly, even daily depending on the nature of the work, individual or team calls will go a long way to heightening trust between business leaders and their workforce. It’s vitally important that unseen workers feel valued and managers should determine what individuals need and what they respond best to.”
She added: “Business leaders should create employee performance markers, encourage openness and build trust, without encroaching or micromanaging. There has to be a balance. A happy home worker is a productive home worker. And, despite the distance between remote workers and the business, leaders can still make a lasting difference. Facial recognition tools on an already confused and anxious workforce is not the answer.”
So far that seems not to have put off accountancy practice PwC. Four investment banks and an asset management firm are reported to be in talks with the accountancy firm about adopting the technology, which could monitor everything from coffee breaks to trips to the bathrooms workers take.
Active Workplace Solutions, based in Woodley, has worked with a wide range of clients, from Maidenhead based SportsAble, helping the company reconfigure its office, offering space planning and the removal of unwanted office furniture to Havas Group, where it helped relocate more than 1400 members of staff across nine floors in its new building in St. Pancras Square, London.