Sensor Technology at Work is Being Used to Spy on Employees
A recent article from the Wall Street Journal highlights how employers are using sensor technology to spy on their employees and track productivity. Rachel Emma Silverman points out on March 7, “Sensors, worn on lanyards or placed on office furniture, record how often staffers get up from their desks, consult other teams and hold meetings.” This technology is being used to track every movement and conversation, so they can be collected and studied.
The technology is being labeled as creepy and invasive, but Silverman mentions that businesses claim it gives them “hard-to-glean insights” into daily employee interactions. Although forcing workers to wear sensors around their necks is a new concept for many companies, tracking and controlling employee movements is not a new idea. Most businesses simply tend to concentrate on online interactions with software like SONAR used to record online activity and block certain websites or WebWatcher used to remotely monitor activity and track online data. Facebook and Hulu are two of the most common websites that are blocked by companies to prevent employees from accessing them during work hours.
In a follow-up article, Rachel Emma Silverman describes wearing a sensor at work with other employees at the Wall Street Journal for a volunteer project to discover how the technology records their daily office life. Although the devices are not capable of recording conversations, they are able to track almost everything else that may happen in an office. However, as Silverman discovered, the sensors may not even be necessary. Management that is actively aware of employee interactions and productivity does not need to rely on a sensor to track workers. She concluded, “I probably didn’t need to wear a blinking badge, tracking my every move, to tell me that we’re a pretty quiet, no-nonsense team. The badges might have jumped off the pages of science fiction, but the data they gleaned just confirmed our reality.”