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More and more companies are using digital tools to track their employees as remote work becomes the norm. The systems are supposed to reduce rule-breaking, but new research shows that they can be a disaster. The authors found that monitored employees were more likely to break rules such as cheating on a test, stealing equipment, and working at a slower pace. Monitoring employees made them more likely to act in ways that they would otherwise consider immoral because they felt less responsibility for their own conduct. The authors found that when employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they are less likely to lose their sense of moral responsibility. The authors suggest that in cases where monitoring is necessary, employers should take steps to improve the perception of justice and preserve employees sense of agency.

Demand for employee monitoring software more than doubled. There was a 1,705% increase in online searches for "how to monitor employees working from home" and sales of systems that track workers activity went through the roof. Microsoft is developing a system that would use smart watches to collect data on employees' blood pressure and heart rate, and then use that data to create "anxiety scores" to inform health recommendations. Track performance, increase productivity, and deter rule-breaking are some of the things employee monitoring tools focus on.