Measuremen Presents Recap: Workplace Privacy

Privacy in and around the workplace. Does it still exist? If so, what are the boundaries? When does it conflict with safety? These were the main themes of the Measuremen Presents event on Workplace Privacy held on April 18th, 2019. The discussion was led by Measuremen CCO Ian Foulds and members of the discussion panel included Daaf Serné from ServiceNow, Henk Smeenk from KLM and Matthijs Pontier from the PiratenPartij.

The discussion was started with the statement “When I work from home, my boss is allowed to monitor what I am doing.” which immediately led to a dispute between the panel members and the audience. Some found that the statement showed how people are moving towards a climate of distrust between the employee and their manager, that ultimately, employees should be judged on their performance and not how they do it. Others found that it is okay as long as there are boundaries, such as keeping emails or search history. Ultimately, the discussion lead to the conclusion that the right to share must lie within the user(in this case, the employee) and employers must exercise full transparency if doing so.

Another topic of discussion was the fact that many people share large amounts of data with large technology companies through their smartphone. Panel member Henk Smeenk mentioned that currently sharing personal data is handled in a transactional way, you receive something from the provider and in exchange you supply data. The relationship and agreement you have with your employer should also be transactional in the same way. But other members of the panel disagreed and had a different point of view on the topic. They found that it is different if employers or cybertechnology companies are receiving your data, you have a higher degree of dependency on your employer. Following some debate, it was agreed upon that the storage of data must be done properly by businesses and the government should monitor it.

An additional topic in the area of workplace privacy was Bring Your Own Device policies. Some guests in the audience shared their experience with such policies and concluded that it is not the end-all in terms of privacy. One guest explained that her employer makes use of a smartphone software which only has access to the business part of her data, so if the smartphone is lost, sensitive data can be erased. This example and others from guests showed that facilitating the Bring Your Own Device policy is becoming more and more easy to facilitate.

Following a break, there was a presentation from KAAN Architects, in which the relationship between privacy, security and a built environment was explained and elaborated. KAAN Architects designs several institutional buildings, including courthouses, crematoriums and the new Amsterdam Schiphol airport terminal. The presentation detailed the design of the new courthouse in Amsterdam, the biggest in the Netherlands, located on the Zuidas (Amsterdam’s business district). The architecture company was given three words to typify how the courthouse should look in the city: visible, recognizable and authoritative. This assignment had a tight connection to security, for the public, judges or staff and people in custody. Every piece of design was completed keeping in mind the need for security while still being transparent.

In conclusion, privacy and security in the workplace should be discussed thoroughly between employee and manager and agreed upon. In the 21st century the concept of privacy and security has changed significantly, how will it change in the years to come? What benefits does it offer us before it becomes too much? Here at Measuremen, we like to conduct this discussion in an objective way, solely based on observable facts.

Find the Smart WorkPlace’s more detailed recapitulation in Dutch here.