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Tales from the Corporate Jungle: Big Brother Part 1

October 22, 2008

Some time ago I visited a friend at work. We had lunch at their cafeteria which felt more like a nice restaurant. It was an MNC.

So as we sat and talked, a video camera at the ceiling caught my eye. I never saw that before. I turned around and saw one located at each corner of the cafeteria. That’s strange I said to my friend. Who wants to spy on people eating?

Oh that, my friend said. Management felt people were taking too much time on lunch breaks, and some were goofing off on tea breaks when they were supposed to be working. So the videocams came up as a deterrent. Being thorough people, they also bugged the hallways leading to the washrooms, the pantries, the stairwells, the call center, and some meeting rooms.

It felt just like the correctional facility (=jail) we visited on a high school field trip once, except this one had carpeting and computers everywhere and the inmates wore suits and ties.

I’m used to seeing security cameras to guard against outsiders coming in but to keep an eye on insiders behavior was a tad unusual I thought.

Pros: People are watchful of their actions.

Cons: People are watchful of their actions. They simply go elsewhere to have their breaks.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2008 10:04 am

    I don’t think i want to work for such companies =_=

    Neither do I. The irony is that this particular company competes on innovation and creativity. They’ve been running at an annual loss for the last few yrs because the creatve juices just wouldn’t flow. I guess the management concluded it was because the staff was spending too much time eating, hahaha.

  2. LC Teh permalink
    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm

    We have cams in workshops, storage areas, some corridors, and a couple facing our smokers’ corner. That doesn’t stop people from hanging around that corner and puff CO into their lungs. Me, I don’t mind. As long as they keep those cams out of restrooms and office cubicles. I don’t smoke. I take breaks at my desk. I walk out into the front or side yards when I need to think. I can always pretend to work….hahaha.

    I can imagine your environment and I do think premise monitoring is nothing unusual. But the day a company hauls up an employee over footage that he spent a wee bit longer eating lunch than he’s supposed to, then they have serious problem.

  3. October 22, 2008 9:18 pm

    Hahaha! One of my relatives’ organization even put cameras in toilets after they discovered toilet rollers went missing everyday. I was like….. speechless when she told me that.

    You’re definitely right. Those cameras make employees more watchful and aware of their behaviors so they will not misbehave. I’ve seen cameras with screens on public buses here… It is so annoying watching yourself on the screen and that indeed work in creating self awareness and make people behave in proper manners.

    I suppose if one has no ill-intent, then cams are no big deal. The problem is whether the one controlling the cameras has ill-intent. Embarassing footage can kill careers.

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