Technology progress has changed the way companies have been operating for a few decades, and nowadays businesses are increasingly focusing on automating and digitising processes.
Collecting and processing personal data has changed significantly in recent years, partly due to technology, and the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that will apply from May 2018 will be a lot stricter about personal data and privacy than the existing Data Protection Act.
What about data and privacy of employees, especially field workers who often use mobile workforce management software for work? Field service management software is a great tool for enabling a more efficient and productive workforce, which not only facilitates job satisfaction for workers (nobody wants to drive for hours to collect paperwork, transcribe paper reports etc.), but also saves companies large sums of money in the long run.
However, field service management software normally relies on GPS tracking for a number of tasks, which could raise some concerns about worker privacy and data.
- Privacy concerns
Employees can naturally worry about employers having the ability to track them. However, a study by TSheets showed that privacy was only the third most important concern of GPS tracking according to workers. More important issues were battery and data usage. Also, it seems that employees who have used GPS have generally had a positive experience, while those who have not used GPS are more worried about using the technology. *
- Benefit of GPS technology and other tracking-type software
Despite the privacy concerns, GPS and other similar technologies do offer significant benefits for employees.
TSheets shows that workers recognise the benefits of GPS tracking, as it offers them the opportunity to demonstrate work performance, and the ability to distance travelled or time at work, ensuring a fair pay. Additionally, tracking software was reported to build trust within the company and ensure worker safety. *
The safety of field workers is an important benefit of GPS. For lone worker protection apps, GPS is a must. If a worker is in danger and an alarm is raised through the app, the employer needs to be able to quickly locate them. Additionally, with Mobile Worker Plus apps, employers can set up geo-fences, which means that they get notified when workers enter or exit predefined (potentially dangerous) areas.
- How to address privacy concerns
Clear policies: employers should have clear policies regarding monitoring workers. These should be reviewed and updated regularly, ensuring they are compliant with relevant regulations (i.e. GDPR), and considering new relevant technologies.
Transparency: being clear about how and when employees are tracked goes a long way in decreasing privacy concerns. Transparency should reassure employees that the tracking technology is there to make their job easier, safer and more efficient, and that they will not be tracked in an unreasonable way, and never outside of work hours.
Personal vs work phones: A simple way to address privacy worries is by having separate work phones. In many fields, this is a given, as certain industries require rugged devices to handle rough environments. Where this is not the case, the policies mentioned above should include the fair use of tracking and data on personal phones used by employees.
Overall, it is clear that field service management software offers significant benefits to both employees and employers. However, the issue of privacy needs to be properly addressed, and a few simple steps can make a difference in easing workers’ concerns.
Mobile Worker Plus is an expert in field service management solutions. We deliver a next generation software platform with off-the-shelf and customisable apps plus a number of complementary products and services that are geared to help our customers increase efficiency, embrace technology, reduce costs and remain competitive in a rapidly changing world.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help your organisation improve business processes and make the most out of your mobile workforce.
* Survey mentioned in the article: https://www.tsheets.com/gps-survey