business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post has a story about how some 15 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using "sensors hidden in lights, ID badges and other places" to collect data about employee movements, to the point where employers will know when staffers are working at their desks and when they are not.

"You’d think there’d be backlash," the Post writes. "But surprisingly, a Pew Research Center survey last year found that a majority of U.S. workers are actually OK with the surveillance if at least for safety reasons. But business owners have another reason: profits. All of this technology is geared to increase office efficiency by better tracking movements of employees throughout the day.  It’s also intended to maximize space and better control lighting, heating and air conditioning systems to make the most of energy usage.

For example, one company saw a 25 percent savings in its energy costs after implementing a sensor-based system that tracked employees’ behavior patterns and then adjusted lighting. A consulting firm is testing a system where about 100 volunteer employees wear badges with embedded microphones and location sensors so that the company can track verbal and physical interactions to 'see how office design affects employee communication.' Another company is keeping tabs on its employees’ locations throughout its offices because it’s easier to find someone this way then just by sending a message or email."
KC's View:
This is the kind of story that makes me feel old ... because I would not do well as an employee in such circumstances. (I actually don't do well in any sort of formal employment situation, since I'm organizationally dysfunctional; my wife says I "don't play well with others.")

But wearing a tracker that would allow anyone to know when I'm at my desk, when I'm in the men's room, or when I decide to take a walk because that's one of the ways I think best...? I don't think so.