There’s a good chance the answer is yes.
Many employers are taking full advantage of rapidly evolving technology to monitor workers. Data such as how quickly you respond to emails, the number and duration of your phone calls and whether you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of working is easy to collect. And companies are collecting it.
Sometimes it’s in the name of studying work-life balance (for example, counting how many hours employees spend answering work emails outside regular business hours). Sometimes it’s to judge the effectiveness of meetings (software can now identify who dominates conversations and who resists confrontations). Other software gauges office morale by analyzing tone of voice or identifies top performers by observing whose emails and texts are responded to the fastest.
If all this sounds like a big, fat invasion of privacy, check your contract or company handbook. Chances are you signed an agreement acknowledging that data produced via work-issued phones or computers belongs to the employer. Actual practices vary. While some companies monitor workers on an opt-in basis, explaining what is being measured and why, others simply install cameras, read your mail and use GPS to track your movements. It’s smart to assume you’re being scrutinized.
You might also consider ways to keep your private life as private as possible. For one thing, you can stop using your workplace phone or laptop for anything personal. You’re probably not supposed to be doing this anyway.
Don’t forget to refrain from connecting your personal devices to your employer’s Wi-Fi. (The same policy stating that all work communications belong to the employer likely extends to network usage.)
The resume your employer has on file for you is another potential source of vulnerability. Data breaches, exposing your personal information to the world, happen too often for comfort. You can add a layer of protection by using an internet-based phone number and a commercial mailing address on your resume.
Last but not least, please note that some companies look at your social media accounts. People have been fired for saying or doing things that their employers determine makes them look bad. So be judicious about your posts, comments and photos. Assume everything is public, even your technically “private” accounts.
Employees have always been watched at work. But now that it’s digital, it’s become a whole new ballgame. Protect yourself as well as you can.