A company in Hangzhou, China named Hebo Technology has come under fire from its employees for using a sneaky method to check on their activities during office hours.
Under the guise of helping them monitor their health and vital signs, the company distributed “smart” cushions equipped with sensors to its employees. Developed in-house, the cushions were purportedly developed as a prototype that would be brought to market in the future.
Supposedly, the cushions were made to help users keep an eye on their heart rate, breathing, posture, and fatigue levels, and also had the ability to prompt users to stand and stretch if they’ve sat down for too long.
But employees soon wised up to the fact that the cushions were actually being used to spy on their activity during work after their superiors always seemed to know exactly when they were away from their desk.
One employee named Wang took to social media and wrote about how she was confronted by a colleague from human resources (HR) who asked her why she’d been away from her desk every morning from 10AM to 10.30AM. The colleague apparently even jokingly “threatened” that her bonus would be cut because of it.
She said she felt as though she was “naked at work” and was tricked into believing that the cushions were a gesture of goodwill from her employers when they were in fact used as underhanded surveillance measures.
“The data collected – such as when you’re at your seat, when you’re not, when you become emotional – is all in the hands of your boss,” she wrote. “What’s more, the human resources department will check this data.”
“Does it mean that our work performance will be assessed based on this information, too?” she asked.
“It was just a trial.”
In the wake of the news, many internet users have severely chided the company for using such intrusive methods to keep tabs on their employees’ performances, with one social media user saying, “It’s too much. Employees are just tools in the eyes of their boss, without privacy or respect.”
Defending itself, the company explained that the cushions used to monitor its employees were nothing more than part of a trial that would be used to collect data before sending the cushions to market.
“The intention of giving the cushions to our staff is to collect more trial data rather than keep watch on them,” said a spokesperson from the company who also assured staff that the data collected would not be factored into any reviews of employees’ work performance and salary reviews.
Possible legal action.
In addition to having to deal with the public outrage, Hebo Technology could also be facing some sort of legal action, according to lawyers who claim a possible breach in privacy laws.
A lawyer from the Beijing Zhongdun Law Firm said that the act of the company sharing the collected data with its HR department was a violation of the initial agreement with its employees to keep the data secret.
He also raised questions about the legality of using consent forms written in English, inferring that the use of a foreign and unfamiliar language in important legal paperwork was yet another dishonest tactic by the company.
“If the company has informed the workers about the testing and has obtained their consent, the testing program is legal,” said Yang. “But these documents are both in English. Can it guarantee that the employees are clearly aware of the content?”
Although the company defended itself against claims of “spying” and using intrusive methods to watch over its employees, a spokesperson has admitted to a breach in privacy rules when collected data was shared with its HR department, and that disciplinary measures are already being taken.
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ที่มา : Mashable