The most (in)efficient Office…

A friend, to remain nameless, just had the office where she works start using PC Snapshot.  It is one of those programs that lets the bosses spy on the workers.  From PS SnapShot’s website:

PCSnapShot computer activity monitoring and keylogger software records all activity on a computer including web sites visited, chats, instant messages, emails, search history, activity on Facebook, MySpace, pictures viewed online and posted, even the individual keys being typed!”

Employees are now afraid to use their computers for even innocuous things. Many folks used Skype or Gmail to quickly communicate with co-workers in the office to avoid filling up each other’s inboxes or bothering with a phone call.  That’s universally stopped.  According to my friend, the employees have now turned to their smart phones to surf the web.   Several people have installed Skype/Gchat’s apps or have begun texting each other.  Clearly, it takes longer to type a message on a small keyboard compared to pinging someone on your laptop with Skype.

I just checked my bank balance on my laptop and it took me exactly 17 seconds.  I repeated the same process on my iPhone 3GS in 3G (with all bars!) and it took about 1 minute and 30 seconds.

And that’s just time wasted.  The particularly disturbing part is that the program records the keystrokes.  The unintended consequences are not quantifiable. If Jane Lane knows the big boss man could be reading her emails, is she going to be willing to suggest a risky strategy that could have a big payoff?  Is she going to question a potentially damaging strategy amongst her team put forth by someone higher up on the food chain?

Then there is the slightly more insidious sounding Smart Keystroke

“The PRO version comes equipped with a number of useful features, like the excellent visual surveillance techniques that allow screen capture. You can remote monitor the user activity by e-mail sent in stealth mode. It also secretly monitors opened applications and windows. In the settings dialog you will be able to enter your password, so the program can be started only with this password.”

I should mention that I work at an extremely large international company which employs a generic filtering program like most companies have these days. The friend with PC SnapShot works at a successful but significantly smaller company. Weird…

Update:

Has it ever been broached in the show or in real media coverage about the productivity of the fictional Scranton Dunder Mifflin Company? Was their branch the only one to success because of the lack of enforcement of any type of rules by branch manager Michael?  Oh, and I love the Office video


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4 Responses

  1. In business the biggest piece of trust you can give someone is employment. Why would you hire people that you don’t trust?

    If Jane Lane finishes her projects better and quicker than Billy Bob let her check her Facebook now and again…

  2. I wonder if the use of the smart phone to have your own internet access at work is a major driver for these devices. I think most companies are pushing to make shopping, and other personal activity harder at work, or at least making sure you know they know that you’re doing it.

    Smartphone seem cool, but for me I’m not sure why I would need it. I’m mostly at work, or at home. I have access to a computer in both places, so why do I need a smartphone. In between I’m mostly driving, many people use smartphone while driving, but it seems unwise to me.

    The main reason for smartphone then must be: traveling or working in the field, use while driving, or avoiding your boss’ attention.

    • I think folks use what they have at their disposal and if the incentives are bad enough, they will definitely use smartphones as a work around to accomplish whatever web-based activity they want to conduct. That said, I don’t know how much banking and shopping can realistically be done on a smart phone and whether it would even be enjoyed/worth it.

      I think your final point is exactly right.

  3. I LOVE this video.

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