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Boss reveals strict rules for Aussies if they want to work from home

Greg Weiss's system ensures productivity doesn't drop.

Staff at an Aussie company are allowed to work from home every day of the week, however it comes with a catch. The Covid pandemic opened up a new way to operate as everyone was forced to stay at home.

People have now returned to the office, but many still have a hybrid situation where they get to work from home several days a week. The staff at recruiting businesses Soulidify and Career365 are free to do all their work from the comfort of their home but they better be ready to prove that they're hustling.

Their boss, Greg Weiss, has revealed his workers will be subjected to screen monitoring if their productivity drops.

Woman working from home next to insert of Greg Weiss
Greg Weiss has a work from home policy that suits him and his employees know they have prove they're not slacking off. (Source: Getty/LinkedIn)

Do you have a good or bad work from home agreement? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

Not only that, but they have to submit daily reports showing how much they've done at home and workers have regular meetings so he's across everything they're up to.

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The policy works for Weiss because he has fewer overheads than if staff were regularly coming into an office. However, the downside is that he risks having a high level of staff turnover.

“None of my team want to work in the office at all,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

“I go into the office two or three days a week, for my own sanity, but I’m a firm believer in remote work, as long as there’s accountability. Productivity can be ensured with good systems and confidence in your staff.”

He was ahead of the curve and actually had a work from home model before the pandemic broke out in Australia. Weiss said the policy helps set an output expectation for his staff and they get to enjoy the perks of working from home for the whole week.

Work from home surveillance just the 'tip of the iceberg'

The boss isn't the only one who watches their employees to understand how much they're working at any given point.

There have even been people fired because they weren't doing enough keystrokes throughout the day. UNSW Business School's Professor of Practice Peter Leonard told Yahoo Finance there's a lot we don't know about staff surveillance.

“It's fair to say we only have an idea of the tip of the iceberg of how much employee surveillance is happening out there,” he said.

Bosses have access to loads of software and hardware that can monitor where you are and what you’re looking at. They can see if you're casually scrolling on Instagram in between work emails and they can take screenshots or even record what you're doing.

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Leonard said more invasive techniques, like tapping into a webcam or listening to audio picked up by a corporate device are “actually not that complicated”.

“It just seems remarkable something that affects virtually every employee in Australia is not more clearly and consistently regulated across Australia,” Leonard explained to Yahoo Finance.

What does the law say?

This is perfectly legal in some parts of Australia, with the Workplace Surveillance Act NSW stating that employees have to be given a 14-day notice period from their employer if surveillance is going to be used. However, under this mandate, employees don't have to give consent to this practice, it's only necessary for bosses to issue a notice that it'll be happening.

The Australian Capital Territory is the only other jurisdiction where workers get notice of surveillance. As for the rest of Australia, the legality of monitoring employees who are working remotely varies from state to state.

“Surveillance is broadly illegal except where the law expressly permits it,” Leonard said.

Under the Privacy Act, there are exceptions in the legality of monitoring, including “the defence of a legal or equitable claim”.

“For example, if an employer was sued by an employee for wrongful dismissal, then the employer would be entitled to rely upon that exception to access those records in the course of their reasonable-defence claim,” he said.

Surveillance can backfire

Aaron McEwan, vice-president of research and advisory at Gartner HR, told Yahoo Finance watching your staff or even the threat of doing so can have negative implications.

The big question is what is being watched and why.

“Nobody likes to be monitored and that’s very clear. Any attempt to monitor employees just further erodes some already-existing trust issues,” McEwan said.

“When employees are monitored they tend to have a higher propensity to do the wrong thing, they might slow their work down or, in the worst-case scenario, they might steal from the company.”

McEwan said this type of employee might focus only on those activities being monitored — like work emails or virtual meetings — which often does not reflect doing a good job all round.

“They're really just playing the game and that doesn't lead to employees engaging in the type of work or tasks that are going to actually drive impact and value in the business. So it's a bit of a wasted effort," he said.

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