Battery Life Is More Important Than Privacy for Workers Being Tracked by Smartphone

January 6, 2017, 1:30 PM UTC
Illustration by erhui1979 -- Getty Images

Like it or not, workers have been routinely monitored on the job for decades.

And with the advent of the latest generation of GPS-enabled smartphones, that trend has only accelerated in the past few years, enabling employee tracking outside of work hours, too. But it turns out that employees are less concerned with the potential for privacy invasion than they are with the impact of that snooping on their smart devices.

That’s according to TSheets, an employee schedule-tracking software firm based in Eagle, Idaho. In November, TSheets polled 1,000 U.S. employees in a range of industries, including health care, retail, and construction, where monitoring is most prevalent.

Among workers currently being tracked by GPS, the top fear was smartphone battery drain, with 62% ranking it as a concern. The next big worry was that GPS monitoring would eat up their monthly data allotments (56%). Privacy was the third-biggest fear (52%).

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Surprisingly, one in 10 employees said their employers tracked them 24 hours a day, which is against the law in all 50 states, according to TSheets. A further 45% said they either believed, or simply didn’t know, if their employers tracked them continuously.

The proliferation of smartphones has made it easier for companies to keep a watchful eye on their workers. Roughly 62% of companies with employees that go out into the field use GPS to track them, according to a 2012 Aberdeen Group report. That’s more than double the amount reported in 2008.

From a worker perspective, it apparently doesn’t feel like Big Brother is overreaching. According to TSheets, the majority of workers tracked by GPS said the technology gave them greater ability to track mileage and time, more accountability, and ensuring they got paid what they are owed. About two-thirds said GPS tracking built trust with employers, and promoted efficiency and safety.