Video cameras are everywhere these days. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing one. Cameras watch your every move when you shop at the grocery store. They monitor you in the bank and at the post office. As ubiquitous as cameras are, placing them in some locations causes us to pause. For example, should employers install cameras in the workplace?
We expect to see video cameras in a retail setting. Moreover, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on a retail floor. Sales associates, cashiers, and managers all know their activities are constantly being monitored by security personnel. The same is not true for a typical office.
Imagine the headquarters of a local tech company. Despite video cameras keeping an eye on things at reception, there are no cameras in the office. Should there be? And if so, would employees object based on privacy concerns?
Video Cameras and Legal Issues
Vivint Smart Home recommends workplace video cameras whether companies have business security systems. In most cases, employers can install cameras in common work areas. They can’t install them in restrooms, locker rooms, and other places where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.
For the record, the reasonable expectation issue is a matter of law. There are different interpretations at the federal, state, and local levels. As such, it is imperative that employers speak with their attorneys before installing any new video cameras. Placing them in locations the law does not allow could result in serious repercussions.
Avoiding legal issues is an obvious must. But once an employer understands those issues, the question of whether to install cameras or not moves to a different realm. That realm is one of the employee reactions.
Concerns About Spying
On their website, Vivint lays out a number of benefits of workplace video cameras. For example, they explain that video cameras can increase productivity by the mere fact that employees know they are being watched. This could be a good thing, but it could also be a bad thing. Employees who know they are being watched may take the attitude that the boss is spying on them.
A business owner has every legal right to monitor their employees. They can certainly do it in person, and video cameras are merely an extension of that ability. But still, video surveillance might not sit well with employees. They might feel as though they can never let their guard down because the boss is always looking over their shoulders.
Reasons for Considering Cameras
One way to balance the desire for workplace cameras against potential reactions is to consider the reasons for installing them. Carefully thinking things through may reveal that a business owner’s reasons are not serious enough to justify the risk of fallout. On the other hand, the need for cameras might far outweigh any negative reactions employees might have.
Here are a few of the reasons that employers choose to install cameras:
Preventing Theft – Cameras can be an amazingly effective tool for preventing theft among both employees and visitors alike. They certainly work on a retail floor. They can also do wonders in the warehouse, the storeroom, and so forth.
Crime Deterrence – Theft is not the only criminal matter employers deal with. They have to worry about all sorts of crimes. One of the wonderful things about video cameras is that they are a highly effective deterrent against most crimes. Whether it is burglary, drug use or any other type of crime, video cameras provide evidence. This is a big deterrent.
Improving Safety – Safety issues abound in most workplaces. Unfortunately, those responsible for safety cannot be everywhere at once. Installing video cameras can enhance safety by providing extra eyes and ears, so to speak. A person monitoring a dozen video cameras can cover more ground than a manager walking around the building.
Preventing Harassment – Employers have begun installing video cameras to prevent sexual harassment. When employees know they are being monitored, they are less likely to treat one another in inappropriate ways.
The reasons for installing workplace cameras are as numerous as the employers who do so. Every employer has their own reasons. Some reasons are valid; others are not. But as long as employers are following the law, they ultimately decide whether cameras are in their best interests or not.
As Part of a Security System
This post has thus far focused on video surveillance cameras separate from the security system. But what about cameras installed with a security system? Are they really necessary? Absolutely. If a company is going to invest in a business alarm system, it might just as well take it the next level and add video surveillance cameras.
Here’s the thing: alarm systems are limited to making noise and alerting monitoring centers. They are very reactive in nature. Add video surveillance cameras and your alarm system suddenly becomes proactive. It becomes a deterrent as much as a warning system.
Video cameras are as effective for business security as they are for home security. Previously, this post mentioned the fact that video cameras deter workplace crime by producing evidence. The same goes for cameras installed as part of a business security system. Criminals who are intent on harming your business will think twice if they see cameras mounted all around your building.
A Lot to Offer
It should be clear that video cameras have a lot to offer employers. Separate from a security system, video cameras can increase productivity, prevent employee theft, improve workplace safety, and deter criminal activity. In conjunction with a business security system, cameras are the icing on the cake capable of deterring even the most intent criminals. As a business owner, do you utilize video cameras in any way? If so, you are among a growing number of business owners who see the value in keeping an eye on things with live video. And if not, you might want to look into it. You may not know what you are missing – literally.