Employers

PTO and poll working: Here’s what Election Day looks like for these tech employers

This election year has been unlike any other in American history.

With an ongoing pandemic, and while millions of people still work and attend school from home, options like mail-in voting, early voting and one-stop voting centers have popped up across the region. Election Day will likely be more like Election Week, New York Times’ opinion writer-at-large covering technology Charlie Warzel told us during a keynote at Technical.ly’s Developers Conference last week.

And similarly to how companies have had to figure out how to address these and other “big issues” this year, many have chosen to make voting and Election Day a part of their company’s policy.

Power Home Remodeling, which previously offered two hours of flex time to go vote on Election Day, this year rolled out a companywide campaign called “Power the Vote” in an effort to educate employees and encourage them to vote. The campaign also includes the new policy of giving a full paid day off on Election Day to all 2,700 employees, and encourages them to volunteer in their communities by helping others register to vote, advocating for voter rights or as serving as a poll worker on Election Day.

“With the current climate of the world and this year’s primaries, we learned [the original policy was] clearly not enough — we knew we had to do better,” Chellsy Mysza, a company communication specialist told Techncial.ly.

Michelle Bauer, Power Home Remodeling’s VP of public relations, brought up the change during an Introduced by Technical.ly conference panel last week on how companies are transforming this year, saying that employees can also be paid by Power for their volunteer hours.

“We’re really trying to support those conversations in a way that people can be civil about it, and supporting that voting message for sure,”

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Corona-fied: Employers are now spying on remote workers in their homes

The future of work is here, ushered in by a global pandemic. But is it turning employment into a Worker’s Paradise of working at home? Or more of a Big Brother panopticon?

Disturbing increases in the use of digital surveillance technologies by employers to monitor their remote workers are raising alarm bells. With the number of remote workers surging as a result of the pandemic—42 percent of U.S. workers are now doing their jobs from their kitchens, living rooms, and home offices—a number of employers have begun requiring their workers to download spying software to their laptops and smartphones. The goal is for businesses to monitor what their remote employees do all day, to track job performance and productivity, and to reduce so-called “cyber-slacking.”

Business software products from Hubstaff, which tracks a worker’s mouse movements, keyboard strokes, webpages visited, email, file transfers and applications used, are surging in sales. So are sales for TSheets, which workers download to their smartphones so that employers can track their location. Another product, called Time Doctor, “downloads videos of employees’ screens” and uses “a computer’s webcam to take a picture of the employee every 10 minutes,” NPR reports. One employee told NPR, “If you’re idle for a few minutes, if you go to the bathroom or… [to the kitchen], a pop-up will come up and it’ll say, ‘You have 60 seconds to start working again or we’re going to pause your time.'”

Another system, InterGuard, can be secretly installed on workers’ computers. The Washington Post reports that it “creates a minute-by-minute timeline of every app and website they view, categorizing each as ‘productive’ or ‘unproductive’ and ranking workers by their ‘productivity score.'” Other employers are using a lower-tech approach, requiring workers to stay logged in to a teleconference service like Zoom all day so

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