by Jodee Redmond
Thank you to one of our readers, Bruno Tilgner, for bringing this to my attention. According to an article recently published in the Globe and Mail, some bidding sites, like oDesk, are offering software to clients so that they can monitor a contractor’s online activities remotely.
The goal here is to make sure that the client is not being taken advantage of by someone who would pad their account or spend their online time web surfing instead of doing the work. As I read through the article, I was of two minds: on one hand, I understand clients wanting to get good value for their money and I can see that for some people, the idea that they may be watched while they are working may help them stay focused.
But the more I thought about it, the more disturbing I found this whole idea. I approach my work from the basic premise that most people are decent and unless they give me a reason not to, I will trust them. My clients trust me to do the work that they give to me and I trust that they will pay as agreed. So far, it’s worked out pretty well. I’ve only ever been stiffed once, and it was for a small amount of money.
If I’m being paid for the project, is it anyone’s business how long it takes me to complete it or what web sites I visit through the day? As long as I get the work in on time, that should be all that matters.
I do have some people who pay me on an hourly basis and if anything, I’m more likely to eat some time if I feel that I was overly distracted and the work took longer than I thought than to ever pad my account.
The other concern I have about monitoring software is that I am juggling multiple projects at once, so if you were to spy on my online activities, you would be seeing material that is not related to your project at all. For one of my clients, I am entrusted with some very personal information and I take care to keep it confidential.
I did consider the argument that if I have nothing to hide then it shouldn’t be a problem if someone wants to monitor my online activities. I would counter that by saying that I take great care to conduct myself in an ethical manner because once I lose my clients’ trust, then I won’t have them anymore and my business will suffer. I have to extend my trust to my clients to behave well toward me and I expect them to do the same.
If we don’t have basic trust in place, then we shouldn’t be working together.
Here is the link to the article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080811.wlwatchers11/BNStory/lifeWork/home
Would you be offended if someone wanted to monitor your work by using spy software? I am very curious to see what you think about this idea.