The UK is looking forward to the end of lockdown, but it is becoming clear that this will not be a full 'as-you-were' return to work, but a more phased approach. Non-essential shops and businesses will re-open, but workers that have been able to operate remotely are likely be encouraged to do so for an extended period of months.
This remote-working environment has moved from an emergency response to normality very quickly and it is likely to have a long-lasting impact on the way businesses are organised and operate in the long term.
Having a high percentage of remote workers also creates challenges for organisations as to how they monitor and record the work environment when central, office-based, oversight is no longer possible, and the data protection implications that these may have.
In this briefing, my colleague Rob Lister sets out some of the legal challenges organisations face in the monitoring of their remote workforce, whether by the use of technology or otherwise.
He also underlines the importance or preparation and transparency, with clear communication, when assessing and implementing new processes or procedures that may be used in monitoring to ensure that commercial objectives are met lawfully.
While monitoring of employees both inside and outside the workplace is nothing new, and advances in technology in recent years have increasingly caused the boundaries between work and home to become blurred, the COVID-19 lockdown has brought these issues back to the fore. Employers may understandably have legitimate concerns around employee productivity – some employees may not have adapted to working as efficiently out of the office (particularly when juggling home schooling, family needs and work requirements), while others may take advantage of the lack of face time for their own personal benefit. However, does this mean that UK employers are justified in monitoring their employees in the privacy of their homes?