The Covid diaries: Day 48 - The Psychology of Returning to Work

The Covid diaries: Day 48 - The Psychology of Returning to Work

A daily fly-on-the-wall blog about running a legal business during the Covid-19 crisis.

By Darren Isaacs - 26 May

It was a beautiful, sunny long weekend. Lock-down restrictions were easing, ice-cream vans returned and all I could think about was Big Brother watching me. Something was on my mind. Do over 80% of workers want to be tracked?

Last week I saw that Citrix released a survey of 2,000 US workers, with interesting results.

For those who do not know, Citrix is a global business that provides (according to its website) a "digital workspace platform". So, basically, they do remote-working IT stuff. The survey can be found here, in one of their blogs.

Even taking into account that this is a survey of US workers, and the US experience of Covid-19 has been very different to that in the UK, the results are worth a read.

The headline statistic that caught our attention is that a whopping 82% of respondent workers wanted to see a contact-tracing app installed on their phones by either their work (44%) or by the government (38%).

We suspect that in the UK, and even more so in some EU countries, the attitude of workers to contact-tracing apps installed by their employer may differ significantly. But the sheer number of US employees who support the idea is interesting nonetheless. Six months ago we would have said with certainty that this number would be close to 0% for Europe, but a lot has changed since then.

If employers are considering implementing key-stroke monitoring software (see Day 47), and a significant proportion of employees would like contact-tracing apps on work phones, are we entering a new era of extreme oversight of the work day? Will the GDPR block this behaviour, or will regulators just adjust how they enforce the GDPR to reflect a new emerging consensus?

I recently wrote that we are not yet living in a George Orwell novel (Day 44) but perhaps I spoke too soon ...

If you would like to read our Covid diaries starting from day 1 please click here.