Barclays scraps system monitoring how long staff spent at desks

‘Big Brother style’ spyware technology sent warnings if workers spent too long on breaks

Barclays said the pilot had been intended to improve productivity as well as ‘tackle overworking’. Photograph:  Tal Cohen/Reuters

Barclays said the pilot had been intended to improve productivity as well as ‘tackle overworking’. Photograph: Tal Cohen/Reuters

 

Barclays has scrapped a “Big Brother style” system that tracked how long employees in London spent at their desks and sent warnings if they spent too long on breaks.

The bank has now stopped its use of the spyware following criticism from HR experts and privacy campaigners.

Barclays introduced the technology during a pilot scheme last week, which was first reported by the City AM title in London.

Whistleblowers told the newspaper that the system provides staff with daily updates if they are not deemed active enough and told them to “avoid breaks”.

The bank said the pilot had been intended to improve productivity as well as “tackle overworking”.

The software, called Sapience, monitors workers’ productivity and claims to create “unprecedented transparency” within companies.

‘Invividual overworking’

A Barclays spokesman said: “We always intended to listen to colleague feedback as part of this limited pilot which was intended to tackle issues such as individual overworking as well as raise general productivity.

“In response to that colleague feedback we have taken steps to ensure that no individual data is visible to managers.”

The bank’s use of the system received scorn from workers’ groups and privacy campaigners.

The TUC union described the use of the system as “dystopian Big Brother tactics that show a total disregard for hardworking staff”.

Barclays created a new EU hub in London over the course of last year to ensure it had continued access to the single market. The group has transferred tens of billions in assets to the operation. – PA