Gone are the days when "I'm going to work from home today" meant that you'd sit back, type a few sentences, get up and make a snack, wash your dishes, file your nails, give them a fresh coat of that new Essie color you love so much, walk the dog, type a few sentences, call your Mom while watering the plants, rummage through the fridge for a snack, type a few sentences, do a squat or two for exercise purposes, order new curtains, type a few sentences, and then call it quits and go home (yay, no commute!). Or whatever it is you do in your "work from home" scheme*; these days, it's over. Employers have realized that you might be up to no good, and they are watching you. Yes, you.
Perhaps we can blame a recent study for blowing our cover. As Slate's Matthew Yglesias wrote at the end of June, citing a survey of office workers by Wakefield Research for the IT consulting company Citrix, "43 percent of workers say they’ve watched TV or a movie while 'working' remotely, while 35 percent have done household chores, and 28 percent have cooked dinner."
But you have to eat, right? Ah, but not on your employer's time! Thus, as Sue Shellenbarger writes in The Wall Street Journal, all sorts of methods by which your boss can keep tabs on you while you're "working from home" are springing up. These mechanisms, which range far beyond occasional emails or phone calls to full-fledged programs and monitoring apps, have, in fact, become something of a business of their own. For example, there are computer-monitoring programs that keep tabs on what websites employees are using "and for how long," sending regular reports of these doings to bosses. Other managers go the more old-school route, assigning weekly objectives and timelines for tasks, maybe putting meetings on shared calendars and using project tracking systems to check up on things. Then there are the implements this writer, and probably anyone who works online, uses as a matter of practice (they actually make the job easier, in fact): Gchat, group chatting systems, and email. More invasive than those: this Google app and this iPhone app that actually let businesses track workers who are "out in the field" or "in business situations." Yikes.