coronavirus pandemic

Working From Home Doesn't Mean You're Not Being Watched

NBCUniversal, Inc.

If you're working from home, you may be out of the office, but that doesn’t always mean you’re unsupervised.

Spy software is flying off the shelves, according to cyber security specialists, and a private investigator told NBC 7 he's busier than ever keeping an eye on employees working from home.

So, who’s behind it all?

Well, it could be your boss.

Let's face it: working from home has its benefits. But if you're working on a company computer and or phone your productivity can be measured and your movements tracked. 

“Every key stroke you type, that’s keyboard logging, they can record that. Every website you go to, they can record that. They can record how long you are on your computer,” Cyber Security Expert Jim Stickley explained.

Computer monitoring software is a popular purchase in the time of COVID-19, according to Stickley.

"It's not like people should be surprised by it, but people are because they think, well ‘I am at home now so it is somehow different,’" he said.

Los Angeles-based private investigator Dorian Bond said since the stay at home order businesses are regularly ringing his phone wanting to know what their employees are up to.

"They sent us out to lakes, golf courses and all kinds of things," Bond said.

In most cases Bond’s team is looking for executives and salaried employees. He said one crafty fortune 500 company exec was caught doing zoom meetings in a golf course bathroom.

“He did the zoom call and the rest of the day he didn't work. He had done that several days so they were able to terminate him,” Bond said.

Jennifer Suberlack heads the San Diego Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Managment. She says businesses would do well to remain flexible during the threat of coronavirus and be up front with their employees.

"If you are now going to be working out of your home with the possibility of being monitored while your home you should definitely be notified of that fact,” she said.

However, ignorance of the rules still isn’t an excuse for not following them.

“Under any circumstances recording that you are working when you are not is grounds for being fired,” she said.

Suberlack says companies have a right to monitor their workers, and they have the right to expect employees are working during designated time periods.

Global Workplace Analytics estimates after the stay at home order is lifted up to 30% of the U.S. workforce will continue to work from home, which would be nearly 10 times more than those working from home pre-pandemic.

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