Working from home—while your boss watches on video

A company that handles Amazon customer service calls wants cameras in employees’ homes—even on their kids.

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Image Credit: Jackie Ferrentino/NPR

If you’re a corporate employee, you know that something unpleasant is afoot when top executives are suddenly issuing statements about how committed they are to their employees, making sure that all of them are treated with dignity and respect.

For example, the PR chief of a global outfit named Teleperformance, one of the world’s largest call centers, was recently going on and on about how “We value our people and their well-being, safety, and happiness.”

Why did the corporation feel such a desperate need to proclaim its virtue? Because it’s been caught in a nasty scheme to spy on its own workers.

Teleperformance — a $6.7 billion global behemoth that handles customer service calls for companies like Amazon, Apple, and Uber — saves money on overhead by making most of its 380,000 employees around the world work from their own homes.

That can be a convenience for many workers, but a new corporate policy first imposed in March on thousands of its workers in Colombia is an Orwellian nightmare.

Teleperformance is pressuring them to sign an eight-page addendum to their employee contracts, allowing corporate-controlled video cameras, electronic audio devices, and data collection tools to be put in their homes to monitor their actions.

“I work in my bedroom,” one employee noted. “I don’t want to have a camera in my bedroom.”

Neither would I, and I doubt that Teleperformance’s $20 million-a-year CEO would allow one in his mansion. Uglier yet, the privacy-obliterating contract requires that even the children of employees can be spied on at home. Nonetheless, the Colombian worker signed, because her supervisor said she could lose her job if she refused.

Of course, Teleperformance Inc. assures us that the data it collects on children is not shared elsewhere. But how do we know that? Trust us, they say.

Do you?

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Jim Hightower
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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