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Badgering Managers Can Finally Count Employees' Eyelashes

Are you keeping up with your emails and general workflow? Are you staying productive at all times on the job? Don't look now, but management could soon know a lot more about your work habits and attitude than you think.

It turns out that Track isn't just the name of one of Sarah Palin's kids. Welcome to the age of the "electronic sensor" that lets employers track your every move via your workplace I.D. badge. The future is already happening, according to a Business Insider article:

Sociometric Solutions has created tracking devices for Bank of America, Steelcase, and Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., and is in talks with General Motors. It was started by a team of Ph.D students from MIT who decided to study the chemistry behind what makes certain workspaces like Google great at building teams. They came up with sensors placed in employee identification badges that gather real-time information to help companies measure productivity. The sensors identify a person's tone of voice, movement and even their posture when communicating with others.

Now the ultimate badge of honor in a bad economy, an activated workplace I.D. badge, can contain a chip to record the tone of your voice, a motion sensor to reveal where you are, an infrared beam for God knows what, and generic "Bluetooth capabilities." Sorry, I'm not a technology columnist. Don't get a chip on your shoulder in the form of excessive anxiety, however, because the tracking device collects only "individual information" that is "anonymized to provide metadata and hedge against privacy concerns."

Hmm. Please excuse us while we ponder the metaquestions of this looming practice. Namely, will the boss use the anonymized metadata to hedge against employees by hiring their replacements? Don't freak out, because the sound of your response could be uploaded and analyzed in real time. Anonymously, of course. Well, there could be a few benefits here. Knowing how everyone is doing could actually help teams work better in the long run, for starters. I realize I'm being a bit glass-half-empty. I just worry about employee privacy.

Here is Ben Waber, CEO of Sociometric Solutions, talking about emerging trends in workplace I.D. badges that might, or might not, badger employees. It's worth a watch. You can decide for yourself whether or not this trend is a good idea. Shh, I won't tell anyone.


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