Trust and empowerment

Monday morning, I came upon a story in one of the subway rags that detailed an altercation that began as a fight over a parking spot and ended with one of the drivers attacking the other with a hammer before driving off with child in a vehicle. It bolsters my case for the argument that the average person’s IQ drops by 30 points as soon as he or she gets behind the wheel of a car, but what struck me as interesting was this sentence: “(Police officers) believe several witnesses may have seen what happened and recorded it on their cell phones.”
It’s a variation on a theme, of course. Police frequently ask witnesses to come forward in cases. The difference is now, with an anonymous e-mail tip, witnesses can forward documentation of an incident without necessarily becoming involved.
The ubiquity of the video camera makes it much more difficult to get away with public crimes. It also can create a permanent record of more private transgressions, like, for example, behaviour at the office holiday party.
In fact, according to research by video platform provider Qumu Inc., 12 per cent of executives worry about that very thing — employees posting embarrassing videos of them from company parties. Fifty-one per cent worry about irresponsible content being posted to the company network
At the same time, none of the execs surveyed had ever seen inappropriate video content get posted. And 73 per cent said employee-generated videos have increased their productivity to some degree. So what gives?
It reminded me of another study, which might seem unrelated, but humour me till I get to the point. A Microsoft Canada survey on the flexible office found that employers and employees alike believed it’s important to have the same capabilities while working remotely as they do in the office (95 and 90 per cent, respectively). But while 55 per cent of employees felt they were more productive working remotely, only 25 per cent of bosses felt their employees were more productive working from home
The common theme: The boss doesn’t trust you, whether or not there’s a valid reason to feel that way
This can be a costly attitude. Despite productivity gains, execs are suspicious of employee video content even with a complete absence of evidence of abuse. Even though 62 per cent of bosses believe they themselves are more productive working remotely, they believe their employees are slacking off when they work from home.
So much technology has been developed with the aim of empowering employees — to work anywhere, to use any device, to provide company content. It’s meaningless without executive buy-in. The most empowering technology is the belief that employees will act in the best interest of the company when they’re unobserved.
Trust them. And install monitoring software.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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