We live in a society of increasing surveillance, where the presence of CCTV cameras on every street, data gathering – from mobile phones to loyalty cards – and the development of unmanned drones are leading many to ask whether we are valuing our privacy enough.
But 'Big Brother' is not the only one watching us – we are watching and evaluating each other more than ever before.
According to a global trends workplace report by Sodexo, there is an increase in ‘rateocracy’ – a rise in workers and consumers instantly sharing their opinions of a company with thousands of people online. The report states: "Soon, we will also rate corporations on their behaviour and have real-time mobile access to the aggregated, stakeholder-generated reputation scores of nearly every corporation on the planet. We will use this information to reward and punish companies."
The report added: "[Rateocracy] will combine real-time ratings within a transparent and democratic structure. In fact, we can anticipate that virtually every person, place and thing will have a numeric social rating. Corporations, managers and employees will learn to live with 'coveillance' – a world in which nearly everyone observes and rates the behaviour of everyone else."
In this new era, a company's reputation will become extremely valuable. Some will regard this as an opportunity to gain recognition for the things they do very well – customer service, product innovation, corporate social responsibility etc. For others, this report will provide a wake-up call that it will no longer suffice to brush issues under the carpet. They must cast a critical eye over their business and make improvements where necessary – or put up with bad reviews that could have a negative impact for years to come.
How a business is viewed by outsiders usually reflects how it is viewed by those on the inside: the staff. Businesses that create a good impression in the outside world are often those that have successfully created a positive environment within their own walls – one full of morale, transparency and fairness – where staff can thrive.
In January, The Business Services Association (BSA) published the 'Responsible Cleaner Scheme' (RCS) for companies working in the contract cleaning sector. RCS members sign up to a series of commitments with the aim of protecting and promoting the best interests of the employees who work in this vital industry. If this is an early sign of what we can expect under ‘rateocratic' rule, long may it reign.