Working long hours is the worst thing in the world next to Miley Cyrus singing at the MTV Video Music Awards. Eye rings, depression, permanent tiredness, productivity dip, mental stress - that's just a very incomplete list of what long working hours can do to you. That's why time attendance software is not merely a whip in your HR manager's hands. It's a weapon you can use to fight for your own rights and your own health.
If you're running your own business, employees coming to work late or leaving early can easily beat any tax office audit in terms of the damage they cause to your company. The 'time is money' trite wisdom is the best way to describe the core of the problem: the less your people work, the less money you earn. The opposite is only partially true. Indeed, more work usually translates into more money for both you and your employees, but only until they reach a certain stress limit. From that point on, more works results in either more money for you and less health for the employee, or even less money for you and less health for your worker.
That's why monitoring time attendance in the modern achievement-oriented economy is not just a means to your financial ends. It's also potentially a means to prevent your financial ends from becoming mercenary at the expense of your employees' health. In fact, time attendance monitoring can paradoxically be a deeply ethical policy today.
If you are surprised by the seemingly Orwellian idea of surveillance being ethical, you've never faced the pressure to perform. Performance-oriented management has long gotten out of hand, escalating into glorification of self-exploitation and reckless slaving away at the expense of social and family life. Working hard - nay, working HARD - has become an end in itself, sometimes taking a truly dramatic extent. This cult of workaholism became a subject of public concern after the death of Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Moritz collapsed in his shower after a 72-hour working spree, during which he spent no less than 21 hours per day at the office. This tragic event revealed that this practice is fairly common among investment banking interns, who hope for a prestigious, well-paid job. It's rather hard to believe their bosses are unaware of their so-called magic roundabouts, the process of taking a taxi home to change, have a shower and drive back to the office, so you may say it is tacitly sanctioned. Now imagine that Moritz's time attendance had been monitored not by his (possibly) unscrupulous colleagues. Imagine his boss had really cared and looked through his working hour statistics. Imagine if the state had created a centralized time attendance monitoring system, trying to prevent the blatant exploitation instead of sending tens of millions of pounds down the drain for GCHQ's ambitious I-know-what-you-did-last-summer projects.
Unravelling the death of Moritz Ehrhardt brings us to a sudden conclusion that software has grown beyond merely being an optional part of our working life. Had it been implemented, in good conscience or not, the young man would have had the chance to stay alive. It demonstrates that software is becoming more and more indispensable as an instrument of production, control, and even ethics. It is a mighty tool to make money with, and it can become a mighty tool to fight for your own rights. This wonderful versatility of IT is what makes it so great: at the end of the day, whether it serves the good or the evil is all about us users.