Working from home? Your boss might be able to track what you're doing online

RALEIGH, N.C. -- If you're working from home then there's a good chance you're doing your job on a company-issued laptop or smart phone or both.

If you've never considered whether your company monitors your workflow and internet activity, a local cybersecurity expert, says you should.

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"If it's not your device, I think it's perfectly fine to assume that you're being watched, you're being tracked," said Craig Petronella, who owns a Raleigh digital forensics company.

Petronella said often the monitoring is anonymous and companies only look at general data, not information from specific individuals.

But now, with so many of us working from home, some bosses may be tempted to use software that allows them to watch your device's camera and listen to its microphone.

"They can watch you whenever they want. They can take pictures of you or video whenever they want. They can take audio clips and listen whenever they want. I would make those assumptions that those things can happen," Petronella said.

He added that while it is possible, he doesn't know of any companies doing it.

But just because bosses can watch and listen to employees, should they?

We put that question to human resources consultant Molly Hegeman with Capital Associated Industries of Raleigh.

"I would not say that that's a good idea," Hegeman said, "I don't think that anyone wants to be spied on. You would probably not advise that you would do that in the work place, to say nothing of coming into someone's home to do it."

Hegeman said one of the reasons she would advise against using surveillance of employees is to avoid irreparable damage to trust.

"That trust that you have is a two-way street," Hegeman said. "And so it's important not to have a practice in place that's going to make your employees dislike you and have an issue with engagement and morale."

Hegeman said the good news is that some bosses don't care about spying on employees working from home because they've discovered those employees are really working--and in some cases, increasing their productivity enough to be rewarded.

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Hegeman said, "Now we're seeing many more employers be open to some flexibility with how they're scheduling or even saying, 'If you get your work done, it's about the output more so than it is about the hours.'"

But, still assume your employer is at the very least watching your workflow and time on the web.

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