I will never accept surveillance software

December 5, 2020

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Jan Madsen

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With Covid-19 forcing many knowledge people to work from home, the surveillance software industry experiences a boom. On this specific topic, there is no middle ground; either you accept going down that alley, or you don’t. I’m in the latter category – I will never allow surveillance software in Enuda. In this blog post I take a stand on this important topic, which is also related to Digital Transformation. 

Surveillance software is a despicable and inhuman way of organising human innovation and creativity, and it is the antithesis to trust and cooperation. 

What is surveillance software?

The term covers a whole range of different software solutions used to monitor and control people’s behaviour while working. The functionality ranges from using the built-in web camera for eye tracking to recording the number of strokes on your keyboard per minute. You could also say you deliberately install spying software on your computer or other devices. 

The installation is often done in the back, hidden away without the users knowing it, and some systems will force your microphone open at all times while working. The system can record your emails, your chats, all your keystrokes and take screenshots of your computer every five seconds. 

It appears such software solutions are booming with a lot of people forced to work from home. The main reason for installing surveillance software is this: Employers have a right to know what their staff is doing, how they are doing it and when they are doing it. 

Build the organisation on trust and cooperation instead.

This discussion taps into a more general debate about surveillance in our societies, which links to digital transformation. New smart digital technology enables overseeing on a scale we could never imagine and for which, we have not prepared our legislation or policies.

In the general debate about surveillance software, some people tend to think: “Well, if you have nothing to hide, then why bother?” In my opinion, this argument is enormously flawed and shows you have completely misunderstood human nature. In my experience, trust and cooperation emerge, when you create an environment based on openness and honest discussions about expectations. 

We are born as reciprocators. Reciprocation is weaved into the fabric of human nature and is the bedrock of social cooperation. Reciprocation is a sub-conscious act and something I have personally witnessed across different cultures. Therefore, show people you trust them, and tell them they are trusted members of the organisation. In turn, they will reciprocate and give you (and the team) their best and act as trusted members of the group. 

It is all a question of lousy leadership.

I don’t know what is behind this surge in surveillance software used everywhere. Right now, the blame is on Covid-19, including all the forced changes in our everyday lives, but I suspect it is more than that. Maybe it is a step in the direction of mistrust in general (I hope not). Or perhaps it is just a matter of pure laziness in organisations. Of course, it is easier to hand over surveillance to a software platform, instead of getting yourself involved in the ongoing work. But it is a lousy excuse for leadership, and will in the long haul cripple trust and cooperation in the organisation. 

Take a stand – say no to surveillance software in any form!

Written by Jan Madsen,
founder of Enuda

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