Video cameras are everywhere these days. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing one. Cameras monitor your every move as you shop at the grocery store. They watch you at the bank and at the post office. As ubiquitous as the cameras are, placing them in certain places causes us to take a break. For example, should employers install cameras in the workplace?
We expect to see video cameras in a retail environment. Additionally, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a retail store. Salespeople, cashiers and managers all know their activities are constantly monitored by security personnel. The same is not true for a typical office.
Imagine the headquarters of a local tech company. Although video cameras monitor things at the front desk, there are no cameras in the office. Should there be? And if so, would employees object to it due to privacy concerns?
Video cameras and legal issues
Vivint Smart Home recommends video cameras in the workplace, as companies have corporate security systems. In most cases, employers can install cameras in common work areas. They cannot install them in toilets, changing rooms and other places where a reasonable expectation of confidentiality exist.
For the record, the question of reasonable expectation is a question of law. There are different interpretations at the federal, state and local levels. As such, it is imperative that employers speak to their lawyers before installing new video cameras. Placing them in places that the law does not allow could have serious repercussions.
Avoiding legal problems is an obvious necessity. But once an employer understands these issues, the question of whether or not to install cameras shifts to another area. This area is one of the reactions from employees.
Concerns about espionage
On their website, Life presents a number of advantages of video cameras in the workplace. For example, they explain that video cameras can increase productivity just because employees know they are being watched. It could be a good thing, but it could also be a bad thing. Employees who know they are being watched may think the boss is spying on them.
A business owner has the legal right to supervise his employees. They can certainly do it in person, and video cameras are just one extension of that capability. But still, CCTV might not be suitable for employees. They may feel like they never let their guard down because the boss is always looking over their shoulders.
Reasons to consider cameras
One way to strike a balance between the desire for cameras in the workplace and the potential reactions is to look at the reasons for their installation. Careful thought 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 can far outweigh negative reactions from employees.
Here are some of the reasons employers choose to install cameras:
Theft Prevention – Cameras can be an incredibly effective tool in preventing theft from employees and visitors. They certainly work in a retail store. They can also do wonders in the warehouse, store, etc.
Crime Deterrence – Theft is not the only criminal matter employers deal with. They have to worry about all kinds of crimes. One of the wonderful things about video cameras is that they are a very effective deterrent against most crimes. Whether it’s burglary, drug use, or any other type of crime, video cameras provide evidence. It is a big deterrent.
Improved Safety – Safety concerns abound in most workplaces. Unfortunately, security officials cannot be everywhere at once. Installing video cameras can improve safety by providing extra eyes and ears, so to speak. A person watching a dozen video cameras can cover more ground than a manager walking around the building.
Harassment prevention – Employers have started installing video cameras to prevent sexual harassment. When employees know they are being watched, they are less likely to treat each other inappropriately.
The reasons for installing cameras in the workplace are as numerous as the employers who do. Each employer has their own reasons. Some reasons are valid; others are not. But as long as employers follow the law, they ultimately decide whether the cameras are in their best interest or not.
As part of a security system
This article has so far focused on CCTV cameras separate from the security system. But what about cameras installed with a security system? Are they really necessary? Absolutely. If a business invests in a professional alarm system, it might as well take it to the next level and add CCTV cameras.
Here’s the thing: alarm systems are limited to making noise and alerting monitoring centers. They are very responsive in nature. Add CCTV cameras and your alarm system suddenly becomes proactive. It becomes as much a deterrent as a warning system.
Video cameras are as effective for business security as they are for home security. Previously, this article mentioned that video cameras deter workplace crime by producing evidence. The same goes for cameras installed as part of a corporate security system. Criminals who intend to harm your business will think twice if they see cameras set up all around your building.
A lot to offer
It should be clear that video cameras have a lot to offer employers. Separated from a security system, video cameras can increase productivity, prevent employee theft, improve workplace safety and deter criminal activity. Combined with a corporate security system, cameras are the icing on the cake, capable of deterring even the most intentional criminals. As a business owner, do you use video cameras in any way? If so, you are one of a growing number of business owners who see the value in keeping tabs on things with live video. And if not, you might want to take a look at it. You might not know what you are missing – literally.