How do people feel about this?

I have read this article a couple of times, and I don’t know whether to be scared witless of it’s potential for abuse, or to be excited that it could make a difference to a workplace.

Having just read how Amazon (ab)uses it’s staff and with experience of working in both toxic and amazing environments, I’m curious if anyone has the same feelings.

Would I trust an employer to use that data to make the workplace better? Would I trust damagement to not use the video component to spy on what I’m doing at any given moment?

Let me see… Trust Darth Botox from the cellphone company, or her minions (Mister Sleeze, Ima Lookit-Porn, Mister “I don’t need to know policy to known that you violated a policy that doesn’t exist”, Ms. “No, I didn’t put that knife there, the blood on my hands is just a happy coincidence”, and Ms. “Who can I throw under the bus to hide my illicit drug use in the rest room”)? Trust the gang from the major financial institution that no longer uses stagecoaches, including the guy whose prior experience was working sales for Countrywide, the guy who ordered us to his house after work to celebrate his birthday and then forced us to watch Ninja Scrolls, the woman who emailed the entire center with her plans to get most of the people on her team fired, and the HR rep who recruited Mister Countrywide and bragged about it?

I can think of only one past job where I wouldn’t be concerned about abuse of this system: the assembly line at a plastics company.

Here’s a question: are employees expected to take these home, or are they supposed to be left at work on off hours?

Okay. My take is that it’s a potentially useful technology that’ll be so subject to abuse that anyone who tries to implement it will be shooting themselves in the foot, kneecap, stomach, heart, neck and brain. Any claims that the data is randomized to prevent identification of specific persons will be met with howls of derisive laughter. (And anyone howling derisively will be immediately terminated.)


And anyone snickering and rubbing their hands together will get a promotion.

As a metrics analyst, I think the data would be fascinating.

As a human being, it seems like the sort of tool tailor made to the type of manager I had for my last year and a half at Autodesk. She put a tremendous amount of pressure on me to fit into the social mold that she wanted. I was miserable, and I think it contributed a lot to my coming down with Graves’ disease (which you have to have a genetic predisposition for, but seems to manifest after periods of prolonged stress).

Some of the changes they talk about are blindingly obvious, the lunch table thing, do you want to collaborate in large or small groups. Some departments are put together that way because that’s how they grew, and the people on my team only share the backgrounds of our positions, the actual work is nothing like each other. We shouldn’t be together, but it’s the way it is, and since the places where we should be don’t have the personalities in place to manage us well, it’s likely where we’ll stay.

I think it’s a neat idea, but a bit creepy. OTOH, it would show things like how many shortcuts we take to get crap done and maybe help change how things work. Frankly I’d be freaked out by this if I was incompetent middle management. It would show how seldom they are actually needed.

I don’t know about the data being abused, but I’m certain that it will be misinterpreted and the results of that misinterpretation will be disastrous.


My general rule:

Management has a right to monitor people within reasonable limits. (I don’t like being studied when I go to the potty…)

However, this will inevitably be used to generate and enforce false metrics.

(I.E. there’s a classic Dilbert strip in which the protagonist complains about having to do time sheets in 15 minute increments, noting that he’s duty-bound to report the 15 minutes he spent dealing with other employees, but has no way to report the time he spent thinking through a difficult problem at home in the shower.)

Smart managers will continue to be smart and will use this data properly. Stupid ones gain another way to be stupid.


It’s a bit too big brother for me. And you have no idea when/where the line is drawn, really.

Knowing what I know about managers, and most people who aren’t doing the work, this shines as a tool to keep tabs on the subordinates rather than a tool to improve the workplace for them. I think it’s the micro-manager’s wet dream in full package.

From what I know of HR and Real Estate (at least in this company), is it takes an act of $diety and boats of money to start adjusting anything, let alone moving a coffee pot. Rearranging an office out of necessity starts stepping on toes of other divisions of the company. Heck, to get 4 empty cubicles for new hires took over a month because it crossed the territorial threshold of the division next to us. They’d been empty for over a year and it still took a good deal of effort to get them switched over to our team. We’ve expanded more since and those folks are going to be sitting on the opposite side of the building, because there’s no way in hell they’re going to move another team just to keep this one together. I’d say these monitors have quite a few large obstacles if they’re going to change this particular aspect of corporate behavior.

So much this. It’s very Big Brother. Also, the parts about the lunch tables and rearranging the work area bother the hell out of me. I’m not big on forced interaction. And I got a vibe that if you try to keep to yourself so that you can get some work done, that’s frowned upon. This is an introvert’s nightmare.

These people are about to open Pandora’s box and don’t even realize it.

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First of all, marketing types never consider the downside, and it really sounds like this is marketing-driven.

Second, I seriously doubt they care.

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OTOH what if it really does do what it says on the tin? Some companies might actually come up with a new paradigm that really works, for them.

If you end up with smoother cow orker relations, even if it’s they realize you do best when fed problems and left alone, that’s better than them trying to draw you into the group all the time. If it speeds up information sharing among people who actually need that information instead of the damagers on teh mailing list, then so much the better. Sales people being forced to realize other people besides them at the company are human would be nice too.

The down side is that Company X will hear about how this company changed something, and just blindly make the same change.

I think this is an astoundingly bad idea.

Though as a citizen of the most surveilled nation on the planet (we’re number one! We’re number one!), this is just the next logical step. I wouldn’t be surprised if our government was furious when Apple fixed the bug that was tracking people 24/7 because suddenly they didn’t have yet another means to watch everyone.

And yes, I know they’re talking about this as a company-level thing, but it stands to reason that if it became commonplace in the workplace, then it would become commonplace outside of it too… just like how constant amendments to the Health And Safety At Work Act 1972 mean that it now applies to your house as well as your workplace.

Not going to happen. Most companies are run by extroverts and they see anyone who isn’t constantly flapping their gums and trying to be part of the group as “not a team player”. Being social and outgoing is rewarded in the workplace. being serious and hardworking is not.


THIS!!! I have been in a work situation that was not the case (my first four years at Autodesk), but for most of my life it has not been okay to prefer to work quietly in my cubicle and not care about everyone else’s kids, recently watched television show, weekend escapades, etc.


Damn tootin. One person’s “best practices” are not “one size fits all”. Yet damager after damager insists that it is.

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I agree with what you all say - in the right hands and with the right organisation (stop laughing, you!) this could be an amazing tool for good.

Sadly, as we all seem to have suffered through bad managers, toxic environments, dysfunctional workplaces, inefficient practises and all the other horrors of working in medium-large businesses; I can’t see any good of this at all.

You didn’t say anything about snickering.

We are unified in our misery and trauma.

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Nor tittering, chortling, giggling, guffawing, chuckling, cackling, sniggering, cracking up, or even splitting one’s sides.


Wow. Thanks for giving me so much wiggle room.

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