Computer Monitoring Essay

Computer Monitoring is most often intended to improve efficiency and
effectiveness in the workplace, but with good intentions comes the opportunity
for abuse by employers and employees alike. An example of both can be found in
an article taken from The Futurist. Kristen Bell De Tienne’s composition “
Big Brother or Friendly Giant: Computer Monitoring in the 21st Century” is
an exceptional observation as to what the future may hold for those people
choosing to enter the technological field such as industry, commerce, medicine
and science. As Computer Monitoring increases there comes a concern for the
types of effects it may have in the workplace. According to DeTienne, “By
the end of the decade, as many as 30 million people may constantly be monitored
in their jobs” (462). As computer systems become more sophisticated this
number will drastically increase. As we enter this new age of technology we must
remember that with more power comes more responsibility by employers and
employees alike. Micheal J. Smith, a professor at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison explains that knowledge can be used as a weapon or as a tool (DeTienne
462). For instance monitoring abuse can be found in the in the situation of
airline agents. The agents discovered that by keeping customers on hold while
finishing their work they could gain an extra 5-minute break (De Tienne 462). In
the future these evasions of work will be stopped and for this reason
“employee’s who are accustomed to evading the monitoring system may no
longer be able to tolerate it” (De Tienne 463). These types of employees
may find they can no longer survive the added pressure of not being able to
evade the system (DeTienne 463). While monitoring can add pressure to some
employees it can also be a relief to others. It is a relief to the employee
because it provides information readily at hand. With the use of prompts, acting
as reminders to workers of information needed is passed on efficiently allowing
employees to do a better job. However, if prompts are used to tell an employee
how much time has been wasted or how bad an employee is doing their job, it
could cause the opposite effect (DeTienne 463). Monitoring can have a positive
effect on workers by letting the employee access their own information. In a
study by Christopher Early information about job performence given by a computer
is accepted better than a performance rating given by a boss. This can only have
positive results for both employers and employees (De Tienne 463). While at this
time monitoring is based on the output of an employee’s performance. In the
future there will be more freedom for employees to use their own ideas,
therefore making monitoring more effective (DeTienne 464). While monitoring will
be used mostly as a tool. One example of monitoring as a weapon is seen when a
woman took an extra minute in the bathroom was threatened with loosing her job.

With this added stress she suffered a nervous breakdown. The Company insisted
that they were not “spying” but were only trying to improve their
business (DeTienne 465). If monitoring is not used correctly businesses will
suffer with increases in operating costs because of “increased turnover,
absenteeism, medical costs, and worker’s compensation” (DeTiene 465)
Employers who use positive reinforcement with monitoring will guarantee better
motivation. Employers therefore receive the benefits of better business (DeTienne
465). Although, most employers will use monitoring in a positive way,
legislation may be needed to protect employees from those who abuse the
monitoring system. The protection of employees should be the most important
issue now and in the future. Legislation has the potential to help employees
with issues of better treatment and the right to privacy (De Tienne 465). In the
New Century companies that succeed, according to John Scully who is chairman of
Apple Computers, will be the ones who learn from the past and from the “me
boss and you employee” mentality. Instead of possessing this mentality
employers should strive to make employees feel better about themselves and their
jobs (DeTienne 466). A good Blacksmith can take a hammer and forge a weapon into
a tool that can benefit the whole village. Employers are the Blacksmiths
employees are the hammers, monitoring is the tool. It takes both to make a tool
to benefit the future.

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DeTienne, Kristen Bell. “Big Brother or Friendly Coach: Computer Monitoring
in the 21st Century” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed Laurence
Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen New York. Addison Wesley Longhorn, Inc. 1997


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