Big ‘Boss’ is Watching.

When at work, think before you type.


email by miniyo73 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With the rise of technology in the workplace, access to worker’s emails and online activity along with watching our every move has become common practice.  Company security has a price right?  Never has it bothered me, I have nothing to hide; I’m not doing anything wrong.  However, the more I ponder this scenario, the more questions I have.

Working life has changed dramatically over the past decade or so.  Lines are blurred as to when the workday begins and ends.  Many employees are expected to carry out work during personal time and as a trade-off private matters should be allowed during traditional hours using employer’s equipment (West & Bowman 2016, p. 629).  However, with this new environment comes the capability for employers to closely watch our every move, professionally and personally.

You can see me … I can see you.


Taken by Joe Bovalino, 6 August 2016

Stanton & Stam (2006, p. 69) argue that being more aware of monitoring and surveillance in the workplace may alter work behaviour and attitudes towards the job and the organisation itself.  It could create a sense of paranoia on management’s part and suspicion for employees.

There is a difference between monitoring an employee and keeping them under surveillance.  For me, the concept of being monitored is positive, consisting of meetings and one-on-one time with management to review performance, set goals and keep you inspired.  West & Bowman (2016, p. 629) observe that surveillance and technology allows management to monitor employee productivity without the need for direct supervision.  Does this mean that with the evolution of technology within the workplace, bosses have become more concerned about company protection rather than employee improvement?

Watching company profits or watching us?


management by zoetnet (CC BY 2.0)

Surveillance in the workplace is developing in three directions – increased use of personal data, bio-metrics and covert surveillance (Ball 2010, p. 91).  Personal data consists no more than bank details, home address, birth date; nothing sinister there.  Bio-metrics includes alcohol and drug testing.  For me, this seems imperative for safety-critical jobs such as driving large vehicles or handling dangerous equipment.  It is the covert surveillance which concerns me most.  This is where access to emails, web activities and work computers and those sneaky little cameras come into play.  After becoming more aware of just how watched an employee can be I decided to look up and was quite surprised to discover the density of ‘eyes’ fixed on me.

So how can employers and employees create common ground and a better understanding of what is acceptable surveillance?  In my view, employers should be transparent and clarify why cameras are necessary in the workplace.  Is it purely for security reasons or for monitoring productivity?  Explain to employees the reasons behind the monitoring of emails or computers, sure if offensive material is distributed through a work network then that is unacceptable.  Otherwise in my case do what I do.  I never connect my phone to the workplace Wi-Fi, I only use the work computer for work related matters and I always smile at the cameras.  Employee of the year – ME!

(474 words)


Ball, K 2010, Workplace Surveillance: an Overview, Labor History, 51, 1, pp. 87-106, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2016.

Stanton, J, & Stam, K 2006, The Visible Employee: Using Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance to Protect Information Assets–Without Compromising Employee Privacy or Trust, Medford, N.J., EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2016.

West, J, & Bowman, J 2016, ‘Electronic Surveillance at Work’, Administration & Society, 48, 5, pp. 628-651, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2016.


Liberty Road (surveil mix) by keytronic (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Camera.mp3 by Bratok999 (CC0 1.0)



12 thoughts on “Big ‘Boss’ is Watching.

  1. Thanks for this humorous take on what the boss has been up to. I really liked your intro, it got me thinking about the topic and wanting to read on. You asked some really interesting questions. I liked the way you used your references to push the reader on through the post. Your images were really apt too – that black and white image of the boss is very dystopian! Your podcast was also thoroughly entertaining. Loved the spooky music at the start! What a great idea: A day in the life under surveillance! Well done Joe, btw I work on Elizabeth St, Richmond we’ll have to catch up for a coffee one day cheers!


    • Thanks Brett, you’re always one of the first to check out my blog. Took me much longer than I expected to get this blog organised but I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m always up for a coffee. Cheers, Joe.


  2. Fantastic work Joe! Really finding it hard to find some negative things!

    Your writing is well informed, descriptive and gets straight to the point like a blog post should. Good use of academic sources, especially having quite a few of them. Your images suite the style of the post, as well as your podcast, which was very well created.

    Your article that you included, ‘Tool or Time Thief’, was a great read about technology assisting the workplace. Though, maybe introduce the article with the author and year or at least explain its relation to your blog post? This further enhances why your including further research while integrating it into your argument, along with giving an insight to what audiences might read about if they searched that hyperlink. Similarly, with your academic sources, maybe hyperlink them in the post so it’s easier for readers to access rather than copying and pasting from the reference list.

    Overall, keep up the great work! So well written:)


  3. Hi Joe!
    This was a great piece, I loved the inclusion of your ‘selfie’ and podcast, I can’t think of any negative feedback to write! If I was to nit pick, maybe include references to your images in your reference list at the end of the post, great job, looking forward to what you post next!


  4. Hey Joe,

    Damn this is a good looking post, but for making me look at my keyboard – ten points from Gryffindor! Personally, I love cameras in the workplace, calling the front and then hanging up just as staff get there, hahahaha.

    There’s not much I can suggest for improvements, perhaps some investigation to what your work does with the footage, how long it’s kept for – even if they don’t pass on the information, I think that’s interesting – who watches the watcher? If your work doesn’t own the building which camera records where? Are they all live cameras?

    I’m checking with my IT crew to see if they can read outgoing emails.



    • Thanks for the comments Rob. I have always been told, be nice to the IT/tech crew at work. They are the ones that know about ‘everything’ going on at work.
      Plus, they can get you really good deals on computers/software – ha! Joe.


  5. Wow. Such a well written and intriguing blog post Joe! I love the way your sentences flow and I think you raised fantastic ideas, as well as finding a nice balance between a formal and comedic tone. You integrated media, scholarly references, an embedded Tweet and podcast that relates directly to your topic and complimented your writing, however I think the first image could have been more creative and I’d also consider re-wording your first statement ‘When at work, think before you type’ to something more catchy.

    Overall great work. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.



  6. Loved this post! The podcast was awesome – I found it really captivating and an original idea. I actually enjoyed listening to it rather than just waiting for it to end. You’ve got a voice for radio! (Don’t worry not a face for radio though!). Your writing did a good job of using sources to talk about the facts of surveillance in the work place and this was contrasted well with your podcast. I was intrigued by your statements about not connecting to your work Wi-Fi and such, do you not trust your employer?
    Keep it up!


    • Thanks Ben, glad you enjoyed the blog and thanks for the comments. I’m sure there is nothing sinister about the work Wi-Fi, maybe just me being paranoid! Good luck with your own blogging. Joe.


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