I Think My Activities Are Being Monitored At Work

Question:

My co-workers are taking turns observing my activities. My computer and telephone is monitored. I have not done anything to merit this. I’ve told my supervisor but he thinks it is in my mind.

Signed,

Worried about being watched


Answer:

Dear Worried about being watched:

There is no way for us to know if you are being monitored by co-workers, but frankly, it seems doubtful. On the other hand, if you have evidence, gather it and take it to HR or the level above your supervisor, along with a letter insisting than an investigation be conducted.

You will need evidence similar to the following: 1. Who is involved in monitoring you and who is not, if there are only a few involved. 2. Why you think they might be doing it. 3. What they are doing with the information they gain by monitoring you. 4. How you know it is happening. Unless someone tells you about it, it is unlikely you would even know.

For example, if an employee is using the internet inappropriately and that is discovered through regular checks of internet logs, the employee may be disciplined. That is often the first time employees know their internet usage is being monitored. Or, an employee may talk loudly, and when he or she says something inappropriate, a supervisor or other employee hears and reports it. That is not technically “monitoring” but may seem that way to the employee.

If an employee has habits or actions that get the attention of co-workers, they may stare or watch the employee on occasion, but that wouldn’t be monitoring in the strictest sense of the word.

For you to show monitoring or excessive watching by co-workers, you will need to show that you are the focal point of attention, and that the focus is intentional and prolonged. But, as I said, you’ll probably also have to show that there is some result to it. It seems highly unlikely that just one employee would be watched perpetually, without taking some action about the things observed.

Your supervisor says it is all in your mind, and that may be true in some ways. You may be sensitive about some issue or have had conflict with several co-workers and are more aware than usual of their actions in relation to you. If you cannot prove something is happening, perhaps you should ask to talk to a counselor who could help you resolve some concerns.

Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.