Business Ethics Assignment: Being Monitored By Your Boss- A Necessary Trade-off Or Stupid Surveillance?
This business ethics assignment has two tasks as described below.
Task 1 (8%): Argument Visualisation
In Task 1 you will create a simple argument visualisation using the MindMup software and you will produce a report in Task 2, which details the argument you construct in your argument visualisation.
Choose the article “Being monitored by your boss while working from home — necessary trade-off or 'stupid' surveillance?” and follow the instructions given below to complete the assessment task:
- Use the title of the article/case study as the title of your argument visualisation.
- Undertake further research about your chosen case and the ethical issue involved, to assist you in analysing it in your argument visualisation (and in your report in Task 2).
- Identify some logical arguments and construct an argument visualisation using MindMup software. Your visualisation should contain the conclusion, and all of the reasons and objections leading to that conclusion.
- Your argument visualisation should present a logical argument for your subsequent report in Task 2. Your report will develop these arguments based on a deeper analysis of the ethical issue(s).
- Your report should contain all of the arguments contained in your visualisation, and you should not introduce new arguments in your report that are not in your visualisation.
Task 2 (17%): Applying Ethical Theories
Follow the instructions given below to complete this task.
- Write a report based on your argument visualisation created in Task 1 and the media article or case study you selected in Task 1.
- Undertake further research about your chosen case and the ethical issue involved, to assist you in analysing and discussing it in your report.
- Analyse the ethical issue applying the classical ethical theories, including utilitarianism, deontology, contract, and virtue. Your report should present well-reasoned arguments, logically leading to appropriate recommendations.
- You should not introduce new arguments in your report that were not contained in your argument visualisation, and your report should contain all of the arguments contained in your visualisation.
- Write an overall conclusion that justifies your recommendations made in your report.
Business Ethics Assignment Task 1
Figure 1: Mind Map
After the covid 19 pandemics, the world has adopted several new measures that they previously had no idea of. It was essential to keep one's life moving forward even after severely being challenged by the unknown. The virus that spread the worldwide disease was unknown to people and medical science (Bartik et al., 2020). The treatment or any cure was thus not available apart from being treated for any other viral disease. Things were not going right for medical science as general medicine would not respond to disease appropriately, and those who wring from it were not correctly cured. The worldwide death toll had also been rising, which made people all over the planet fear this unknown. It was important for the governments to impose regulatory measures to minimize the spreading of the disease before there is an actual treatment or a vaccine to combat the disease. The regulatory standards meant people to self-isolate themselves, remain in their homes, and cut off general socializing. The entire global business was halted as nobody could go to their workplace and continue with the same workflow. These regulatory measures were one of their kind and something that no people in this century have ever experienced. After a certain period, governments and business owners realized that it would be impossible to keep the entire global business market shut for an uncertain period. It was essential to keep the business rolling as the world was nearing a global recession, which was necessary to stop.
Seetharaman (2020) stated that the next best idea of keeping the workflow intact was to allow the people to continue their work from their homes so that they would not need to socialize or meet with other people. This was possible only because of the advancement in technology and telecommunication. Still, it was an idea to keep rolling the money in the system to avoid any financial crisis during the worse health crisis of the century that the world has witnessed. Now, every new idea has certain advantages but with apparent disadvantages. The work-from-home setup and the idea are no exception. Although it gave the liberty to people of working with the comfort of being at home, there have been several disadvantages too (Brammer, Branicki, & Linnenluecke, 2020). It cannot be denied that working from home and working at the office is entirely different, and for both cases, the approaches are different. While at home, the quality of work might get enhanced due to the comfort and working style. It is also true that the time involved in completing a piece of work has increased in many cases than the time was previously used while working at the office. This is a cause for different reasons, the mindsets are different, the approach is different, and the working environment is different in both cases. According to Kamal, (2020), thus, for enhanced productivity, the companies had to develop some other ideas to monitor the employees while they work from home. Many would say it is necessary to keep a check for productivity. It is helpful at times of any difficulty the employees face as they would get immediate solutions to their problems. Others argue that it is just stupid surveillance, and employees can lose their working style and implementing their ideas while being monitored. Also, while being watched, it can be not easy to be at home for obvious reasons as it can be considered intruding on someone's privacy. This research aims to understand if this monitoring of employees is necessary or just stupid surveillance based on some ethical theories.
According to the concept of Utilitarianism perspective, any act is considered good when the majority of the people are happy about the action. Now considering the workplace proportion, most of the employees are not pleased about being constantly monitored. Also, many of the senior professionals would believe that they are not happy. At the same time, they have to monitor their subordinates while they work as it can reduce their work efficiency (Häyry, 2021). So, in the case of monitoring the employees while they work from their homes, most people are not happy about it. Thus, based on the perspective of this theory, it can be said that monitoring the employees is useless surveillance. Based on the Utilitarianism perspective, the fundamental concept is to keep more people happy. Therefore, this theory would stand entirely against the idea of monitoring while people work from their homes. Every employee must have their privacy and should be allowed to work in their comfortable style.
However, as opined by Smart (2020), if productivity is not high, most people would not be happy about it, including the employees who expect to provide their best while at home and work. So if productivity were not up to the mark, this theory again would suggest that surveillance would have been a good choice as it would have helped more people be happy. Now, whether an act is ethical or unethical cannot be only judged by the happiness of the majority. People can be satisfied with certain unethical doings. It is essential to understand and analyze what could be beyond the immediate consequences of any act. Therefore, based on this concept, it would be complicated to realise if monitoring the employees while they work from home is necessary or stupid. There is a need for further evaluation.
Deontology theory states that rules are essential to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right. It is a theory stated by Immanuel Kant, who believed that ethics are a part of universal laws that are right and what is wrong. For example, Deontology states that stealing, cheating, and other conduct are nonethical and must not be practiced. This theory is simple to apply at any workplace where following the rules is associated with being ethical. Therefore, speaking if monitoring the employees is ethical or unethical, based on the perspective of this theory, it is ethical if the company has set the standard rules of monitoring the employees (ten Have & Neves, 2021). This theory does not judge any action based on their results, thus irrespective of whether the employees are happy or whether the monitoring of employees is yielding good productivity, this theory can go on and support the fact that monitoring the employees while they work from home is ethical; because it is a general rule of the company.
This approach has specific strengths, but following these strengths can yield results that would make many people unhappy and unsatisfied. Raymond (2020) opined that going against the professional code is unethical, even if the practices are not good and productive. Based on this theory, if the company rules state that monitoring the employees while they work from home is essential, the practice is good. It does not consider the side of people's choice and their freedom. Just abiding by the laws can also be considered unethical if the practices are not morally encouraged and liked. This would mean that the employees would be lying to themself and let themselves be monitored when in reality, they want the practice to be stopped, but since the rules are set, it would be unethical to challenge the rules. Therefore, it is unclear through this perspective whether monitoring the employees is ethical or unethical if there are no set rules for monitoring.
The perspective of this theory is precisely the opposite of the Deontology perspective. The virtue theory stresses the belief of people and their ideologies. It states that the desire to do the right thing is always more effective than following any set of rules or principles. It further states that every people should indulge in doing moral acts out of their habits and not because of any laws. Hence, based on the perspective of the virtue theory, it can be said that people can argue and consider the monitoring of employees while they are working from their homes is unethical and is just stupid surveillance. Since the virtue theory states that people must do something that they consider suitable, it can be argued that the employees and the supervisors who do not evaluate monitoring rights should not be a part of this procedure adopted by many companies (Fabiano, 2021). Again, people who would consider this idea a necessity and consider it right can argue that this procedure adopted for the work from home is essential and must be carried on. This would mean that each side can argue that the procedure is necessary and stupid as both sides can state that the process is ethical through their consideration.
The issue with this theory is that it would not conclude the debate and bring any result as both the parties can argue of being ethical under this theory. People from different cultures and beliefs will have different opinions, and all the arguments would be ethical as they consider that they are right in their thoughts and ideas. The main point of focus for virtue ethics is a person's ideas which can differ in several ways from each other (Wright, Warren, & Snow, 2020). Thus, to conclude if monitoring the employees while they work from home is ethical or unethical would need further evaluation apart from this theory.
The contract perspective is based on the social contract theory, which states that people live together in a society based on an agreement that establishes moral rules of behaviour. The idea of this contract theory is that people live in a society based on a social contract, and they behave morally by their own choices and not because there is a requirement for this. For living in harmony, there is a need to follow a specific code of conduct and abiding by certain rules which are legally considered right throughout (Weale, 2020). For example, conducting a homicide or any other crime is morally not supported by society, disrupting harmony. Therefore, legally speaking, it cannot be said that monitoring someone can disrupt moral harmony. Monitoring the employees is not unethical, and it is done because the company feels it is important. Again, based on this contract theory that states that people behave in a certain way because they feel that it is the right way, it can be argued that monitoring is not necessary (Farbák, 2020). The employees know their job role and the work they would need to complete, so they will complete their work without being monitored.
Therefore, the contract perspective also cannot provide the proper idea of whether the practice of monitoring the employees while they work from home is ethical or unethical- necessary or just a stupid mode of surveillance unless there is a procedure that is legally accepted right and good for maintaining the harmony.
Based on the evidence collected from the study of the different theories of ethics, it is still very much unclear if the process of monitoring should be considered necessary or just a useless mode of surveillance. Each of the theories provides aspects that state that the monitoring of employees is essential and can yield certain benefits. However, different elements support the fact that monitoring the employees is useless and will not help in increasing productivity. Instead, it is a procedure that can be considered unethical as it interferes with the personal life of those employees. This debate on whether the employees should be monitored while they work from home is evenly balanced foreither side accepting or not accepting it. It is on the personal perspective of individuals how they look about monitoring or being monitored. Certain employees of different companies would say that the monitoring has helped them gain productivity and speed in their work, and a workplace to employees are monitored. Others can argue that working from home is different from working at the workplace, and constant monitoring can reduce effectiveness and interfere with personal space. It is only suitable for the companies to decide which employees need monitoring and which would be working off well even without the monitoring. It is essential to come up with some basic rules like monitoring the new joiners and leave out the old employees maybe or some others that would help end the debate on whether being monitored by your boss while working from home is a necessary trade-off or just stupid surveillance.
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