David, 23, admits that he felt a twinge of relief when the first wave of Covid-19 shut down his Arlington, Virginia, office. A recent college graduate, he was new to the job and struggled to click with his teammates. Maybe, he thought, this would be a nice break from “the face-to-face stuff”: the office politics and small talk. (His name has been changed for this story.)
“I couldn’t have been more wrong,” David says.
That’s because, within their first week of remote work, David and his team were introduced to a digital surveillance platform called Sneek.
Every minute or so, the program would capture a live photo of David and his workmates via their company laptop webcams. The ever-changing headshots were splayed across the wall of a digital conference waiting room that everyone on the team could see. Clicking on a colleague’s face would unilaterally pull them into a video call. If you were lucky enough to catch someone goofing off or picking their nose, you could forward the offending image to a team chat via Sneek’s integration with the messaging platform Slack.
According to the Sneek co-founder Del Currie, the software is meant to replicate the office. “We know lots of people will find it an invasion of privacy, we 100% get that, and it’s not the solution for those folks,” Currie says. “But there’s also lots of teams out there who are good friends and want to stay connected when they’re working together.”
For David, though, Sneek was a dealbreaker. He quit after less than three weeks on the job. “I signed up to manage their digital marketing,” he tells me, “not to livestream my living room.”
Little did he realize that his experience was part of a wide-scale boom in worker surveillance– and one that’s poised to become a standard feature of life on the job.
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Source: the Guardian