I sat on the post for a few weeks. We haven't really been controversial as a company– typically opting to focus on the happier topics, which is fine, and much easier! But last week we published our stance on employee monitoring. Will people care? Will it help? Will it hurt? Who knows! But I want to share why we did it.
We tiptoed around this topic for every single year we've been in business. A surprising amount of small businesses outside of the modern internet culture still want to spy on employees. And at the end of the day, it's their business, and we're just making sure their computers work, so I can only offer so much advice before I succumb to their request. Where do you draw that line though? It's a slippery slope, and honestly best discussed on prime TV shows clammoring for higher ratings.
What caused me to finally take a stand is when a team member asked what we should do when a client asked him to install spying software. This is software that tracks typing (keylogging) and takes screenshots of their work every few seconds so that management can see their activity at any point in the past. We're at a size now where it's not just my personal convictions against the client's, where I can have a nuanced and engaging conversation with the client to share our best practices. Now my own team members are put in an uncomfortable position, when all they were trying to do was install a wifi network.
I used to let these contriversial topics slide under the radar and just be glad we got through it. But now my own team is in the muck. And they need a voice. They need an insitution of values to lean on. Don't worry, we don't believe we should take any stances on topics that are not directly related to our work. But privacy is directly related to what we do, thus it was time to speak up.
But as you'll see in the post, it's more than just a rallying cry against spying. We want to offer better alternatives. Usually, when we've shared these ideas with the client, they change their mind. They really just haven't ever spoken about their fear with anyone nor have they looked for positive ways to approach the problem. So hopefully this will elevate a better way to lead.
I really don't know if it'll have an impact on business. I suspect most potential clients won't care. And hopefully we'll garner some good will from existing clients that align with our values. But I do know that our team members were thrilled when I shared it internally. There was an uplifting buzz among the team. Like we had just won something, like we were doing something good. And love that. I think that's probably the most important result of taking a stand. Our team feels safe at work, and they feel proud that we're willing to risk some dollars to hold true to our values.
So no more tiptoeing. Our team knows where we stand, and they can share the link to anyone that asks them to do anything that may invade someone's privacy. And they'll be all the more proud to work at a place that supports their values. Next time you see me, please ask me what came of this! Only time will tell.