[Re: UK civil servants to have computers monitored to get people back to office, September 13]
The UK Civil Service should reconsider whether the surveillance of employees is the appropriate approach to get the most out of their staff and encourage their return to the office.
It is important that employees feel accountable and acknowledged —that they are seen—surveillance is taking it a few steps too far. It can have a negative impact on productivity and engagement at work.
Employee surveillance is effectively using a stick, rather than a carrot to motivate workers, which is misguided. Punishment instead of reward will fail to foster a productive mentality. Instead, it instils a sense of distrust in leadership which can result in communication breakdown and a resistance to teamwork. Although it may force people back to the office, it undermines intrinsic motivation and happiness.
There are a plethora of alternative ways of recognising efforts that would make employees feel motivated and engaged, and encourage their return to the office. Recognizing those who return to the office, explaining how office presence is tied to teamwork and ultimately advancement opportunities, and making the office a more rewarding experience, are just a few ways of pulling the carrot instead of the stick. Ultimately, success is about making employees feel recognised and appreciated, rather than monitored.
Chicago Booth School of Business