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Employee Surveillance Measures Could Threaten Trust and Increase Staff Turnover in UAE, VMware Research Finds

PALO ALTO, Calif. December 16, 2021: VMware, Inc., a leading innovator in enterprise software, today shared results of a global study that revealed the rise in employee performance and trust established in new hybrid working models could be under threat from an increase in the implementation of remote monitoring measures.

The study, “The Virtual Floorplan: New Rules for a New Era of Work,” conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of VMware, found that 90 percent of companies surveyed in the UAE have either already implemented or are planning to implement employee surveillance measures to monitor employee productivity since the shift to hybrid working. Among these organisations, the measures being taken include the monitoring of emails 56 percent, web browsing and collaboration tools 44 percent, as well as video surveillance 36 percent, attention tracking via webcams 34 percent and keylogger software 28 percent. However, 46 percent of UAE companies that have already implemented device monitoring, and 64 percent of companies who are currently in the process of doing so, are in fact seeing “drastically increased” or “increased” employee turnover.

The research findings suggest there is a delicate balance to be struck as businesses look for new ways to assess employee performance beyond presentism. From the employee perspective, 80% of UAE employees agree that moving to a distributed working environment has meant that their performance – and not traditional metrics such as time spent in the office – is being valued more by their employers. And, 85 percent of employees agree that remote work technologies have enabled them to work more efficiently than before. A further 85 percent of organisations have had to develop new ways to measure employee productivity.  Among these organisations, the new approach to monitoring productivity has been achieved through the use of performance-focused solutions including regular catch-ups with managers to discuss workloads (54 percent) assessing output and agreed deliverables (54 percent), and using new project management software (56 percent).

However, now that direct reports are not necessarily sitting a few cubicles away, employers are evolving new ways to monitor and quantify employee productivity. While 83 percent employees recognise their organisation has had to develop new ways to monitor productivity as part of the move to hybrid working, transparency remains critical.

Amin Hanafieh, Country Director, UAE, VMware.

Amin Hanafieh, Country Director, UAE, VMware, said: “The results of the survey show the importance for company leaders to take a step back when deciding how to assess employee productivity. While technology was key to enabling the distributed workforce, traditional techniques such as regular catch ups, setting expectations, agreeing KPIs, and keeping open lines of communication can be used effectively to monitor and measure productivity. The focus should be on providing the employees with the tools they need to perform their roles, while agreeing expectations on performance, with the employee’s full buy in”.

“Globally we are seeing organisations shift permanently to hybrid work models that don’t require knowledge workers to be office-based all the time. With this shift, employers should proceed with caution when replacing presentism with monitoring tools. Monitoring and performance are two very different things”, says Shankar Iyer, Senior Vice President and General Manager, End-User Computing, VMware. “Digital workspace tools enable people to work from anywhere and our research shows employees are feeling more valued and trusted. A lack of transparency and measurement by ‘stealth and numbers’, can quickly erode employee faith and lead to talent heading for the door, in a highly competitive and challenging skills market”.

Employee surveillance is one of many topics touched on in The Virtual Floorplan study. Key findings include:

  • New ‘workplace tribes’ have emerged via digital tools used by employees. The stabilisation of hybrid work has resulted in a new kind of office floorplan — a “virtual floorplan,” which is based more on affinity, shared goals, and shared values than physical proximity. The virtual floorplan comes with new rules, as well as new success factors for employees, leaders, and teams. View the infographic.
  • We’ve entered a new era of transparency and trust. With less central control and in-person interaction, transparency and trust are emerging as vital qualities that leaders must embrace to advance and unify their organisations in a hybrid-by-default world. View the infographic.
  • Security is a team sport. The virtual floorplan introduces countless freedoms for employees — and just as many security risks for IT. With less direct control over apps, devices, and networks, IT is navigating a new paradigm where security is a team sport. View the infographic.

An executive summary of the study can be downloaded here.

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