Have some self respect!

One of the things I see a lot on the StackOverflow family sites are questions about how to minutely monitor employees. The latest one was a question on how the person could start up a continuous video capture of a remote employee’s screen from the moment the person started work to the moment they stopped, and have it stored in real time on the central office servers.

My advice on every one of these ones I see is “learn to trust your employees. If they are producing enough good quality code as to be worth the money they’re paying, it shouldn’t matter how many hours of solitaire, StackOverflow or porn they’re looking at while they produce it.” (Obviously not porn in an office environment, but you get the idea.) And if they aren’t producing good quality code, then deal with the problem. In other words, act like a manager not a slave overseer.

Ok, I can see why bosses might be so misguided as to have no clue as to the creative process and so think this is something they need to do, but why the hell would programmers be so whipped and beaten that they’d agree to such a travesty? Don’t they have any insight into how their own minds work? Do they think this is normal to be treated like cattle?

The latest one, the boss offered the excuse that he was doing it so he could check the guy’s code quality. How does watching him type it in give you a better idea of his quality than looking at the code after it’s checked in. Insist on daily checkins if you wish, but don’t sit there analyzing his every key stroke. He also compared it to an open plan office. Yeah, if a boss wants to walk around an open plan office once in a while, that’s fine. If he wants to set up a video camera watching over my shoulder, and says that video is going into my employee record, or even worse, doesn’t tell me what he’s going to do with that video, I’m walking. And I’d suggest anybody with a shred of self-respect should do the same.