back to article Brit bank Barclays probed amid claims bosses used high-tech to spy on staff, measure productivity

The British offices of Barclays Bank are under investigation over allegations that managers spied upon their own staff as part of a workplace productivity improvement drive. Back in February, the bank trialled tracking software to detail the amount of time employees spent at their desk, as revealed by City AM. Last week an …

  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    And only recently the boss changed tack and said he wanted staff back in the office. I thought when I read it that sounded like the attitude of a typical blinkered boss who wants to micromanage his workforce.

    He added: "We want our people back together, to make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture and our controls, and I think that will happen over time."

    Now we know what form 'our controls' take.

  2. N2

    Grubby organisation

    Responsible for a lot of misery, more so than most.

    Barge pole icon - wouldnt touch them with

  3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    "avoid breaks for 20+ minutes, 2–3 times a day"?

    Seems like odd advice.

    These systems are known as "tattlers" in the US. Truckers (lorry drivers) got the first taste of them; supposedly put on in case of truck theft, it rapidly became companies complaining about the length of fuel stops (allocating 0 time for using the restroom), objecting to 31 minutes lunches, and so on. Other than a few states like California, the US has almost no privacy protections, no protections from poor workplace practices, etc., but de facto they have workplace revolts (I don't think it usually gets as far as a strike) when they get too heavy-handed with the tattlers.

    On the one hand, I would not care to do all the work while spending time with a bunch of freeloaders; on the other hand, I've worked for places that try to track time down t the second and they tend to be the stingiest bunch of bastards you'll ever see.

    One I worked for "generously" (they used the term generously!) provided 2 days of paid time off per year -- and that 2 days PER YEAR included sick leave! I don't necessarily expect to get paid for work when I'm not working; but, they had no provision for *unpaid* time off, they thought after I got a cold and was home sick for 2 days that I was NEVER going to take a day off for the rest of the year even if I was sick! I quit when I was getting top performance ratings, but got a talking too anyway because I was "almost" late every day -- I was never late, but only coming with a minute or two to spare, they really thought I should be coming in 15 minutes ahead of time. I pointed out if they wanted me there 15 minutes earlier they could start the workday 15 minutes early and pay for it. My recollection is I did not quit on the spot right then, but not that long after that.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Tattler

      "almost late"

      when punctual isn't good enough.

    2. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Tattler

      Must admit I am always 15-25 minutes early, but I leave 5 minutes earlier to beat some annoying traffic on the roads. I find myself less stressed because of it, but that time beforehand is my own so I will get myself a tea and look at the Reg

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Most contractors there didn't have a regular desk...

    ...I was fortunate that the area I was contracting into had a desk I could use when I was there.

    Anyone who cares to check the little black box under the desk (far corner of a first floor desk in Babbage House) might still find the folded up post it note with "Do not spy, not cool!" trapped between the battery and the contacts of a "desk utilisation monitor" :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most contractors there didn't have a regular desk...

      FWIW those little black boxes weren't the spying gear - they were just boring old occupancy meters.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The degree of privacy in the workplace.

      American or European? There's likely a large difference ...

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Bloody wage slaves

    How do they dare to revolt against their masters? We pay them, they belong to us!

    1. not.known@this.address

      Re: Bloody wage slaves

      "They wouldn't be called 'human resources' if they weren't meant to be strip-mined"...

  7. Binraider Silver badge

    Company with sucky, uncompetitive products also has measures to demotivate staff. Why should we be surprised. Move bank already people, there are far better alternatives absolutely readily available.

  8. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Symptom of a deeper malaise

    Any employer feeling the need to monitor their employees to such a degree is at best only papering over the cracks and not recognising a deeper problem. Most people are good and fair-minded, and show loyalty when treated as adults trusted to do their jobs. Treat people well, with flexibility and understanding of their circumstances, and they will respond well on those occasions when the employer needs a few extra hours at short notice. Treat people with mistrust and hold them to every minute of the day, especially when overworked and under-resourced, and many -- if not most over time -- will effectively end up working to rule and be less inclined to be creative and constructive.

    Good managers will be able to identify any slackers taking advantage of trust and goodwill, not least because the slacker's colleagues will soon make it clear they are not willing to put up with parasitic behaviour. Poor managers, on the other hand, are more likely to micromanage and look to a bureaucratic and/or intrusive performance improvement process because deep down they know they don't have the ability to turn a bad situation around by providing good leadership and showing trust.

    Well, that's my experience anyway.

  9. Azamino

    Necessary evil

    Any office operating a hotdesk policy needs to know the utilisation of desks, we have a live system that updates a noticeboard in reception so that staff know where they can find a seat (admittedly far less of a problem nowadays). The kit used to measure that usage is the flipside to being allowed / instructed to work from home at least two days a week.

    No excuse for prying though.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same company can't explain how to calculate interest

    I have a credit card with them. (Keeping as emergency backup, but it doesn't get used much at all.) The one time I had to pay interest (simply forgot a payment, so about $30 in interest/fees), I tried following the instructions they provided to confirm the amount... and it didn't match. Long story short, the instructions say to calculate the average daily balance (which they won't tell you how to do, no matter how many times you contact them, and they apparently don't use a standard method), then multiply by the interest rate. Then they tell you that this means the interest is compounded daily - which is totally wrong, it's monthly. Despite a dozen contacts with them, they couldn't understand daily vs monthly compounding, nor how to get the numbers they provided.

  11. don't you hate it when you lose your account

    Expensive way to spy

    Just friend all your slaves on Facebook, all the info you can need. ( old reg story about the ausssi and the hangiver )

  12. Roger Kynaston

    how to fool the system

    If everyone put ice cubes in their underpants the sniffers would not detect them and the data would be useless!

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