One corporate field of investigation has seen especially high growth in 2021 – surveilling at-home workers. With the sudden spike in remote work situations across the majority of industries dealing with COVID-19, companies found themselves wanting a way to make sure that key workers were actually performing their duties…and if they weren’t, actionable evidence that could be used to replace them.
While vaccines and time look likely to reduce the coronavirus threat, business structures may have shifted permanently, making this particular line of work a lucrative option for PI firms looking to expand. Let’s go over the top tips every PI should know when looking into a remote work case.
Get All Scheduling Information Beforehand
Unlike some surveillance cases, remote work surveillance is about matching timetables between what a worker says they are doing, and what they are actually doing. That’s why it’s particularly useful to get scheduling information from the employer about what the employee is supposed to be doing, and when they are supposed to be doing it.
If the employer doesn’t have requirements for when the employee is supposed to get work done, then their case will be much harder to prove, no matter what you see the employee doing. Discuss the details so you have a clear picture of the job and a schedule to compare activity to.
Plan for an Early Morning Surveillance Job
In many ways this job is similar to a workers compensation surveillance case. You will want to arrive early in the morning (being set up by 6 am is a common goal) at the employee’s residential location to help catch any daytime activities that show they are not performing their duties as expected. If someone is leaving for a day of snowboarding or a trip to wine country for the day, you’ll want to be there early to catch them.
As many surveillance experts have found, it can often save time to head over to Google Maps and study the employee’s address and street so you have a good idea how to pick a position for long-term surveillance. If the area looks a little complicated, a drive through a couple of days before planned surveillance can be very helpful in making the right choices.
Focus on Visual Evidence
In the majority of remote work cases, the employer already has good reason to suspect that an employee isn’t doing their job, and your primary goal will be to collect corroborating evidence. That means visual evidence is especially important. Photos and video of employees leaving their house, photos of their license plates, photos of them out on leisure activities – this is usually the type of information that employers are looking for: Employees have been caught golfing, fishing, boating, and having affairs with each other – among much more. Make sure everything is carefully time-tagged as well.
Curbside Trash May Be Useful
Dumpster diving isn’t the most glamorous task, but if trash is on a curbside and off of private property, it’s fair game to investigate. This can be useful for gathering evidence of employee activities in the past – which also helps you know what to watch for during surveillance. Tickets, passes, receipts to local bars, and similar information can all help point in the right direction while also adding to the case.
Try to Stay in Vehicles
With so many areas still social distancing and practicing other lockdown regulations, following on foot remains a particular challenge. Try to stay in inconspicuous vehicles when possible, as this will help stay unnoticed while tracking an employee after they have left their home. Long-distance camera gear is highly recommended! If you want additional evidence, you can always stop by an establishment later and interview servers or other people to see if they can confirm the employee’s presence.
Don’t Forget to Check Social Media
It may seem ridiculous for an employee to post confirmation on their social media that they’re ignoring work duties, but it happens all the time. When possible, research the employee’s social media accounts and connect when possible to check out what sort of photos and updates they are posting. This can be very revealing, or at least give you some pointers on what to expect and where to start looking.
Obey Any Local Trespassing Rules
As always, respect local trespassing laws when it comes to going on private property and recording video. You don’t want to have broken the rules if the case leads to a counter-suit and your own actions are put under scrutiny. Fortunately, remote work cases generally center on employees leaving the house or at least wasting time in the yard, so obeying trespassing laws should not be a problem.
If you are looking to expand your business, we highly suggest talking about remote work jobs on your website and social media. Reach out with marketing content to the larger companies in your area and let them know your rates. This is a key period of growth for the industry, and your firm shouldn’t miss it! Our blog will continue to provide the latest insights and tips for growing your business.