a thought for the Formula One drivers of the world. Sure, they seem to earn a
reasonable wage. Sebastian Vettel is currently on US$50 million a year. The combined
salaries of the top 10 drivers is more than the GDP of some small countries
such as Nauru and the Marshall Islands. So financially they seem OK. In terms
of travel, they visit a minimum of twenty different countries throughout the
year with all travel expenses covered and flying on exclusive charter flights
or in first class. I can think of worse travel arrangements. Then there are the
occasional perks. Attendance at exclusive events with the world’s elite. Presidents
wanting to meet you. Members of the opposite sex attracted to you.
would I possibly want to spare a thought for the 22 men who have the
opportunity to put ‘Formula One driver’ in the box next to occupation on their
tax return form.
simple reason. Their employers don’t trust them.
do I come to this conclusion? In most organisations, as soon as any monitoring
or surveillance system is put in place in the workplace, the immediate assumption
from civil liberty groups, unions and possibly even employees is that the big
boss sitting back in his leather chair with his feet up on the mahogany desk
smoking cigars is watching a battery of monitors to keep an eye on the
employees because they don’t trust them. If a boss watching a couple of
monitors feels like surveillance, then think about the surveillance a Formula
One driver is under.
One cars contain up to 300 sensors. There are up to 2,000 telemetry channels.
The performance of some 10,000 unique components are analysed by a team of over
30 engineers at the race track and another larger team of engineers at the
team’s headquarters. Each team can collect up to 11 Terabytes of data per car
over a full race weekend. Teams run simulations during races to predict
expected lap times, which drivers are expected to meet. Technicians talk about looking
two hours into the future and trying to predict what position they will finish
the race in. Plus there are the multitude of cameras on the circuit and on the
drivers can’t really pull into the pits and tell the team boss that their lap
time was a little slow because the brakes were fading. The team will know
exactly what error the driver made moments after he made it. The drivers are
expected to drive flawlessly and match the lap times the computers predicted.
Forget the fact that the computers are not flesh and bones sitting in the
cockpit of a vehicle travelling at over 300km/h where decisions have to be made
in real time. You only get one chance and lives depend on the decisions you
how does all of this relate to resellers across the world?
all comes down to employee surveillance. Should you or should you not? Is it
acceptable to install video cameras in the workplace and use other monitoring
tools to analyse what your employees are doing?
example of Formula One says that, despite paying employees stratospheric wages,
they monitor, literally, their every breath they take. I don’t necessarily
think it should be taken that far but a reasonable employer, communicating to
all employees about the surveillance in place, should not threaten employees.
To a certain extent it would be reasonable to think that some of the
surveillance is done for the protection of employees. Protection from the
public in extreme circumstances but also protection from accusations by
customers or fellow employees. The best approach in all circumstances is ethics
the law may well be on the side of the employer. In 2013 the first case in the
US was brought before the courts of secret GPS monitoring. An employer
suspected an employee was submitting false time reports and returning home from
extended business trips earlier than his timesheets showed. The employer secretly
attached a GPU unit to the employee’s vehicle. The employer’s suspicions were
confirmed when they found the work car was frequently parked at the house of
his secretary. The secret monitoring cost the employee his job and his
marriage. He wasn’t happy with his termination so took a legal route but the
final court of appeal decision said that using a tracking device to confirm
suspicions was reasonable. I am not sure if he tried a similar process to save
I don’t necessarily agree on the ethics of the secret attachment of a GPS
monitoring device, I certainly agree with the ethics of monitoring activity
within your business and allowing all staff to be fully aware that monitoring
is in place.
more than 28 years of creating and running IT businesses, I have had a range of
monitoring activities in place and fortunately I have only had to confront two
employees as a result of inappropriate activity. In neither example was random inspection
of information the way that an employee was caught. In both examples, there
were other indicators that something was amiss. Without monitoring in place, I
would have had a nagging feeling that something was wrong – but I would have
had zero proof. With monitoring in place, I could inspect data and see exactly
what was occurring. In one example, I was concerned about the productivity from
one of our technicians. He always seemed busy but the output wasn’t there.
After viewing Internet logs, it was obvious that he was visiting sites that I
would be embarrassed to show my mates at the pub. When presented with the
information, he resigned immediately. The other example involved an alarming
drop in profits from one site. Further investigation showed some anomalies and
when video footage was presented to an employee of cash disappearing, the
initial story soon changed as the lies collapsed like a house of cards.
may sound like I am one of those aforementioned cigar-smoking bosses but we
have also used video footage to protect an employee when an absent-minded
customer was certain they left a mobile phone behind after visiting one of our
sites but we were able to show the customer they left the store with the phone
in their hand.
am certainly a subscriber to the theory that if you are not doing anything wrong,
there is nothing to worry about. I realise that Edward Snowden didn’t exactly
subscribe to the same theory but we are talking about a significantly lower
level of surveillance in the workplace compared to the level that Snowden
always, communication is king. Let people know what you are doing and why, and
you are most of the way there.