Increasing numbers of workers are being watched by their bosses via CCTV in their place of work, and it’s making them feel under-valued and not trusted.
Those are the findings of a survey carried out by leading camera installation and servicing company CCTV.co.uk, which concludes that overuse of the technology has damaging implications for workplace morale.
While CCTV cameras play an important role in security and safety, their misuse can do more harm than good, a company spokesman said, noting that a quarter of workers said they would consider quitting if they knew they were being watched.
“Time and again we were told that employees broadly accept cameras in the workplace,” said CCTV.co.uk’s Jonathan Ratcliffe, “But the moment they’re turned on staff, all trust goes out of the window.”
According to the company’s survey of 3,422 staff at UK-based offices, shops and factories:
- 87% supported workplace CCTV for security and safety reasons
- Only 8% said they supported CCTV to monitor staff performance
- 25% said they would consider their position if they knew their managers were watching them for no good reason.
CCTV.co.uk’s Jonathan Ratcliffe noted that the acceptance of CCTV in the workplace was higher in shops, bars and offices where staff are more likely to come into contact with the general public.
“Workers have no quibbles with being monitored for safety reasons,” he said, “That’s because they’re not the primary reason they’re being watched. It’s when there’s no clear reason for setting cameras on staff that this breaks down, and we’ve heard some outrageous stories of workplace surveillance.”
One worker complained to CCTV.co.uk that a camera had been installed outside the staff toilets. While managers claimed that they were intended to deter vandalism, employees suspected that people were being “spied on” to stop them spending too long away from their duties.
“Similarly, we’ve heard of CCTV cameras overlooking photocopiers, staff kitchens, smoking shelters and stationery cupboards,” said Ratcliffe. “There is other reason for this than to show management’s distrust of their own employees”.
While cameras in the workplace have an important role to play, their use needs to be balanced alongside people’s right to privacy, the CCTV.co.uk company says.
“Trust is important in the workplace,” said Ratcliffe. “Once it’s abused it cannot be bought back lightly.”