A FEW YEARS AGO, Carol Kraemer, a longtime finance executive, took a new job. Her title, senior vice president, was impressive. The compensation was excellent: $200 an hour.
But her first paychecks seemed low. Her new employer, which used extensive monitoring software on its all-remote workers, paid them only for the minutes when the system detected active work. Worse, Ms. Kraemer noticed that the software did not come close to capturing her labor. Offline work — doing math problems on paper, reading printouts, thinking — didn’t register and required approval as “manual time.” In managing the organization’s finances, Ms. Kraemer oversaw more than a dozen people, but mentoring them didn’t always leave a digital impression. If she forgot to turn on her time tracker, she had to appeal to be paid at all.
“You’re supposed to be a trusted member of your team, but there was never any trust that you were working for the team,” she said.
Since the dawn of modern offices, workers have orchestrated their actions by watching the clock. Now, more and more, the clock is watching them.