Work processes in the manufacturing and service sector are increasingly supported by digital and context-sensitive assistance systems. The fundamental requirement for context-sensitivity of technological systems is a comprehensive and continuous collection, storage, and (real-time) processing of data concerning the workplace, the products, and the employees. This also includes employees' personal data, which can not only be taken into account for the context-sensitive assistance, but also for the electronic monitoring of workers in order to control work performance and employee behavior.
In order to describe possible outcomes of electronic monitoring through context-sensitive assistance systems, an extensive literature review on electronic monitoring at the workplace has been conducted. On one hand, the impact of electronic monitoring on significant outcome variables, such as performance, psychological and physiological demands and stress, work satisfaction, and work motivation is considered. On the other hand, conditions that promote either the acceptance or rejection of electronic monitoring are discussed.
Heterogeneous findings become apparent, particularly in terms of work performance, which indicates both a positive effect (feedback and appreciation) and a negative effect (control and coercion, data privacy and security) of electronic monitoring. Another essential aspect is the socio-technical participation of workers concerning the introduction of systems enabling electronic monitoring, e.g. with regard to a potential violation of privacy.
From these findings recommendations and advices for the design of context-sensitive assistance systems can be derived. However it has to be distinguished that most studies included in the review deal with electronical monitoring in general and do not focus on context-sensitive assistance systems in the proper sense. Weak points in many studies are quasi-experimental or cross-sectional research designs as well as the short-term perspective of the studies. As means to exclude confounding variables like specific characteristics of jobs that are typically electronically monitored, longitudinal analyses and organizational intervention studies are required.
Please download the complete report "Review on effects of electronic surveillance at the workplace and the configuration of context - sensitive assistance systems" (in German only).
Review zur Wirkung elektronischer Überwachung am Arbeitsplatz und Gestaltung kontextsensitiver Assistenzsysteme.
1. edition. Dortmund: Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin 2018. pages 72, Project number: F 2419, PDF file, DOI: 10.21934/baua:bericht20180726