Disgruntled employees act out in lots of ways. A guy I knew who hated his boss “played” on his work computer all day. The computer was strictly for constructing company graphics. But he installed all kinds of games and wasted lots of time. His boss never knew he blew off half the day.
Company computers are obviously company owned, making it legally possible for your boss to spy on you. Employers can also figure out whom you’re speaking to on your company owned or sanctioned phone and for how long—with phone monitoring software—They can also see contacts, emails, texts, media and more. All legally.
An article on forbes.com notes that some companies sell and advertise such software in a sensational way (“Find Out WHO Is Making Up Normal Personal Calls”)—software that can automatically send e-mail alerts about phone calls made by employees. These include details such as frequency and with whom.
The forbes.com article then mentions another such company, that sells spyware for cell phones and tablets that’s “100% invisible and undetectable.” They usually call it monitoring, not spying, and point out that businesses have a right to monitor to “control their business.” And, frankly, they do.
However, most of these programs are geared towards and used by parents and spouses (spouses concerned with cheating) and parents, what with kids developing all kinds of psychological disorders with the help of cyberbullying.
And again, company monitoring is legal if this activity is in the employer’s contract. The monitoring must have a business-related reason. There’s a difference between “spying” or tracking an employee’s use of the company phone during times that employee is supposed to be working, and spying on his conversations with his ex-wife over the custody fight of their kids while he’s on lunch break.
Businesses need to strike the right balance so that employees don’t feel that their trust has been violated.