Downside of Big-Brother Monitoring

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We have studied the potential cost: the reactions of the employees being monitored. Our studies show that, although boss-monitoring does sharply reduce how much time employees spend surfing the Web at work, it also demotivates them and communicates distrust. So boss-monitoring can undercut the productivity gains that it was supposed to produce. The good news from our studies is that another form of monitoring—peer monitoring—reduced Internet abuse just as readily and maintained employee motivation. Additionally, when designing their dream firm, employees chose peer monitoring instead of boss monitoring to reduce their own Internet use. Bosses apt to monitor their employees, then, might consider letting employees monitor themselves.


This article was originally published in the The Wall Street Journalon October 31, 2013.

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Wall Street Journal