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US remote work software Basecamp took a stand against employee surveillance vendors

Basecamp, a US company that makes software for remote work, took a stand against employee surveillance vendors this month. In an effort to “resist the normalization” of employee surveillance during COVID-19 — a practice Basecamp refers to as “not right” and “not human” — the company banned these vendors from integrating with Basecamp’s software and featuring the Basecamp logo in their products. Firms that track or record employee activity, beyond standard time-tracking, cannot use Basecamp’s API. Basecamp has already gotten in touch with vendors that violate the new policy and ordered them to de-integrate. 

How exactly do these programs virtually stare over employees’ shoulders? They constantly track desktop activity. Typing and clicking. GPS locations. In some cases, employees’ faces (yes, really —photographed via webcams)! With COVID forcing even the most office-dependent companies to become remote, surveillance vendors report a surge in demand.

Now, we fully get that we’re in the wild wild west of remote work. But in the rush to pivot, don’t overlook the fundamentals. Your employees’ needs — for privacy, to trust and be trusted — are just as (if not more!) important than your customers’. Not only because you depend on your staff to keep running, but also because your external brand hinges on your internal culture; a shift we first captured in GLASS BOX BRANDS. The pandemic has heightened this phenomenon, as consumers hover a magnifying glass over companies’ responses to COVID (see the newly-launched Did They Help?). But it’s not just about how well a brand has embraced social distancing or sanitizing in its operations. Thanks to initiatives like Basecamp’s, these expectations are transferring to the new normal of work. The brands that do implement respectful remote work measures — and those that don’t — will become painfully clear.

How can your brand also set a good example for other companies, and establish best practices, of how to operate under these extraordinary circumstances? 

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team