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Employees Sent Home from Work During COVID-19? Monitor them with Surveillance

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Have you made the difficult decision to allow your employees to work from home? If you have, you’re not the only one. Canadians need to do everything we can to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19 from spreading. At the same time, allowing employees to work from home can present a new set of challenges. It’s much more difficult to monitor productivity. In addition, while some employees will rise to the occasion, others will shirk their work responsibilities. So how can you protect your company and ensure that you’re paying the right employees? Well, if you send your employees home from work during COVID-19, you can monitor them with surveillance.

Question: What is Surveillance?

Surveillance at a basic level simply describes a scenario where the behaviour of an individual or group of individuals is monitored. People require surveillance for many different reasons. For example, sometimes individuals pretend to be injured to receive benefits and time off work. So, an employer will hire a private investigator to monitor the employee and gather evidence. The evidence will help to prove whether or not the employee should receive benefits and time off. Another example includes theft. In this case, let’s say that food is being stolen from a warehouse. The employer in this situation could hire a private investigator to run surveillance on the warehouse. The private investigator will gather evidence to catch the criminal in the act.

The most important element to surveillance is that the individual doesn’t know he or she is being monitored. The reason for this is because the moment someone suspects they are being watched or followed; they will change their behaviour. Surveillance only works if the individual acts as they would in normal, day to day life. In the majority of cases, this means that nothing untoward is uncovered. Most people behave responsibly! However, it’s in special circumstances that someone behaves in a way that is damaging to a business or individual. It’s these cases that employers need to watch out for.

Why You Need Surveillance

As an employer, you likely need surveillance for many different reasons. For example, if you have product or office space, you will want to set up video surveillance equipment to keep your property well protected. If you suspect an employee is behaving badly, you will want to cut ties with him or her. After all, an employee is paid to get a job done. If he or she cannot deliver due to negligence on their part, you have the right to offer the job to someone who can.

Surveillance: What Can You Do from Home?

The simple truth is, to ensure that self-isolation works, you must allow your employees to work from home (if you can). The good news is, you can do several things to check in with your employees—to see how this change is affecting their mental health and wellbeing. After all,

most of your workforce would still like to keep working! They don’t really wish to be working from home but understand that it’s for the good of the community that they do so. During this difficult time, checking in on your employees often will help to boost morale across the board. It’s also the right thing to do.

With so much technology at our disposal, it is easy to run video or audio calls with your employees. Many companies have organized online team meetings to keep up to date on projects and more. These team meetings can take place over Skype, or other company authorized meeting platforms. Setting up these meetings, whether through chats, video or audio will truly help to build a better sense of community. It’s how online companies have operated for years. Adopting similar techniques will ensure the mental health and well-being of your employees remains positive for the days to come.

Surveillance: When Online Methods Don’t Work

Unfortunately, there are some employees out there who just don’t want to work. The truth is, you likely already know who they are! And, if your employees need to work from home for a couple of weeks, those who aren’t putting in the effort or want to work as a team will self-identify very quickly. The truth is, if you’re paying your employees a full working wage, they need to get the work done. If not, they should find employment elsewhere. However, you will need to prove that your employee isn’t working out. This can prove difficult if he or she is working from home.

Therefore, hiring a professional will only help you to get the information you need to find out once and for all how that difficult employee is performing.

Surveillance & Private Investigators

While it’s all well and good to know what surveillance is and how it can help you identify misbehaving employees, it takes a trained professional to run a successful surveillance operation. The biggest mistake people make when it comes to surveillance is thinking that it’s easy. These people try to discreetly follow an individual or monitor their home from a distance. Then, the worst happens. The individual discovers that they are being watched because they recognize the person watching them! This is why it’s so important to hire someone like a private investigator to handle your surveillance needs.

A licensed private investigator will know how to run a successful surveillance operation. Private investigators have all the training required to formulate and execute an action plan to get results. A private investigator’s primary goals is to use his or her skills to uncover the truth. A good private investigator will not lie or stretch the truth to prove a point. So, if your employee is underperforming because he or she is feeling anxious about the COVID-19 situation, a private investigator will put that information in their report. As a caring employer, you will likely want to give that employee more support. However, if the private investigator discovers the employee is gaming online all day instead of developing software (for example), that information can help you to make a more appropriate decision

PI Surveillance Methods During COVID-19

When it comes to surveillance and employees during COVID-19, a private investigator has several options. These options do support self-isolation, which will help to flatten the curve.

Option 1: Monitor from a Parked Vehicle

Monitoring an individual from a parked vehicle is a very popular method of surveillance. From a parked car, a private investigator can check out whether or not an employee is staying at home during work hours. A private investigator can also follow the individual if they leave home to determine if he or she is buying groceries (a necessity) or going over to a friend’s house for a party (not an essential work task).

Option 2: Follow on Foot at a Discreet Distance

People often leave their homes on foot (meaning, they don’t take a vehicle to get to their destination). In these situations, a private investigator will need to follow the individual on foot as well. The good news is, social distancing requires people to keep a distance between one another. Therefore, a private investigator can keep up appearances as they watch the individual.  

Quite often, the individual is simply going for a walk, or picking up groceries. However, the private investigator might uncover a secret meeting with a neighbour, or something more sinister.  

Option 3: Contact the Employee Online

Modern private investigators know all the tips and tricks for digging up the truth these days. This means that they know how to run surveillance even online. It’s easy for a private investigator to go undercover as an employee. Pretending to be an employee can help a private investigator to gather information over chat, emails, video conference calls and more. Combing through this information can reveal much about an employee’s activities.

It’s also possible for a private investigator to check out an employee’s social media accounts. If an employee is working on building their following with videos, pictures and more, chances are, he or she isn’t getting much actual work done. An employer can use this information too, to determine whether or not their employee is committed to his or her job.

Surveillance: Focus on Building a Sense of Community

While you want to try and protect your business during these challenging times, you also don’t want to cause any panic. Again, the majority of your employees will strive to do their best work under their new working conditions. However, problem employees will likely emerge over the next few weeks. These are individuals who don’t or won’t take others into consideration.

These employees might refuse to self-isolate or work during regular hours. However, they will likely self-identify very rapidly as they will be easy to spot. For example, an employee might not show up to online meetings on time or skip them entirely. Perhaps an employee’s work output

decreases significantly without an explanation. Again, as an employer, paying wages at a time when your teams should be pulling together—you will want your entire workforce to be at their best.

It’s times like these that we all need to come together as a community. We need to make sure that we all do our best to pull our weight in whatever capacity we can. If you, the employer can have your workforce at home, it’s a great start! However, you also need to ensure that your employees are on the same page to keep everything moving forward. Therefore, hiring a private investigator to determine whether or not a difficult employee is being a team player is likely in your best interest.


Do you need someone to help you with your surveillance needs? Contact us today via email or phone for more information. We’re happy to help!

Phone: 888-950-4113 or Email:

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Whitney Joy Smith is a prominent figure in the field of private investigation and security, serving as the founder and CEO of The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., Smith Security Inc., and Training Centre Canada, as well as a sitting politician.

With a remarkable journey that began in the early 2000s, Whitney's professional background as a private investigator is underscored by her unwavering dedication to the role. Born in Canada and having spent her early years between Canada and the United States, Whitney possesses a unique perspective shaped by her experiences in both countries. This background equips her with an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of private investigative laws, regulations, and operational standards in North America.

Throughout her career, Whitney has garnered numerous industry awards and accolades. She takes great pride in working closely with her continually expanding agency, striving to elevate industry standards, maintain compliance, and effectively meet the diverse investigative needs of clients.

Whitney actively engages in various membership, committee, board and support roles, demonstrating her commitment to the industry and professional community. She is affiliated with all local chambers, associations and more.

Whitney's wealth of experience is not limited to her professional achievements; her thought-provoking articles have been featured in publications ranging from Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and Mens Health to Business News Daily. She constantly seeks to redefine standards and push the boundaries of excellence within the private investigative and security fields.

To discover more about Whitney Joy Smith and the dedicated team at The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., visit our website to learn more.

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