“We would have more of a policy to follow people about why they didn’t show up,” he said.
But many workers, across all industries, are resisting the prospect of keeping track of their office attendance now that they have grown accustomed to the freedom to decide when and where to do their jobs best. A study from Future Forum, a research group supported by technology company Slack, found that 94% of knowledge workers wanted some flexibility in setting their schedules and 79% wanted some flexibility in determining where to work.
“I don’t have anyone watching me, and if I did, it would cause a lot of stress,” said Rose Worden, who works at a nonprofit in Washington who expects to come two days a week. “Trust is important for any job.”
And many tech-savvy people warn that any type of surveillance software, often called “bossware,” can have a corrosive effect on corporate culture.
“The fact that any interaction you have at work is potentially scrutinized by your boss tends to transform how you engage in work,” said Rob Reich, director of Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society. “Treat employees like machines optimized for maximum performance rather than humans.”
According to workplace experts, pushback against surveillance tools could present an argument for more straightforward and carefully delineated return-to-office plans. If all workers on a team went to their desks on the same days, for example, instead of choosing three random days to commute, there would be no need to take attendance, both because it would be obvious who was and who was. at home, and because more employees will gladly return to the building.
“What’s the point of going in if none of your colleagues are around?” said Bloom, who advises executives on hybrid work. “If you have to force employees to do something you think is to their advantage, it’s not to their advantage.”
“Next thing, there will be a teacher in the front of the office with a ruler throwing chalk at non-working people,” he added. “It looks like you’re returning to eighth grade.”