South-Western - Management  
Navigating Privacy Concerns to Equip Workers with GPS...
Topic Ethics and Social Responsibility, Decision Making
Key Words GPS, privacy, communication
InfoTrac Reference A135049881
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News Story 

Plumbing company Roto-Rooter is one of many companies using new GPS technology in workers' cell phones to quicken response times to customer calls. (GPS is a navigational system that utilizes satellite technology to identify a recipient's exact location.) The company expects all 1,500 technicians to be equipped with the technology in two years.

In order to ease concerns regarding employee privacy, the company's CIO communicated an honest appraisal of the system and emphasized the benefit to employees. With the GPS system, technicians in the field are able to serve 20 percent more customers and earn greater commissions. The company also opted to have an in-house group train the employees instead of GPS representatives for a more welcoming first impression. Other companies, such as Collegeboxes, use the technology to allow Call Center operators to access the status of movers throughout the day, which increases on-time transportation.

Even with the benefits of GPS, some workers' groups are concerned about misuse of the technology, including monitoring workers during off hours. Additionally, there are no federal laws regarding GPS. As the technology becomes more popular, it's important for companies to have clear-cut policies in place. The most effective solution has been for workers to use the device's off button to exit from the system without having to turn off their phones.

Questions
1.

One critic of GPS noted that using the data can "diminish the inherent dignity of the employee." Is the use of GPS an ethical issue for a company? What steps could a manager take to ease apprehension about incorporating this new technology?

2.

As manager of a small furniture company, using the Delphi technique, describe how would you determine if GPS technology is the right investment for your business.

Source "Navigating Privacy Concerns to Equip Workers with GPS..." Workforce Management, Aug. 1, 2005. v84 i8 p71.
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