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Poll: Would you let your employer 'track' you?



We’ll publish the results on Monday 22nd April. Sign up to the EngineeringPro newsletter to be updated when results and comments from the global engineering community are available.

Technological advancements in fields such as big data analytics, communications capture, mobile device design, DNA testing, and biometrics are shaking up the traditional workplace. With ever more advanced forms of technology at their disposal employers have more options than ever when it comes to monitoring and tracking employees. But the question is- should they be?
At the far end of workforce tracking tech is RFID implant technology.
(At the far end of workforce tracking tech is RFID implant technology. Image via BioHax).

At first glance, it may not seem like a particularly widespread issue, however a 2018 research report from Gartner reveals that such tracking technologies are being adopted in ever larger numbers by employers. Of the 239 large corporations surveyed by Gartner, 50% were using ‘non-traditional’ monitoring techniques. 

By ‘non-traditional’ Gartner is referring to tracking who is meeting with whom; analysing the text of emails and social-media messages; checking automated telephone transcripts; gleaning genetic data and more.

Whilst 50% my strike you as an alarming percentage of companies engaged in non-traditional tracking, what’s more striking is its rapid growth. In a similar survey in 2015 Gartner reported that 30% of businesses were engaged in non-traditional tracking. By 2020 Gartner expects the figure to hit 80%.
Workforce tracking is becoming ever more pervasive
Workforce tracking in action

The forms of workforce tracking that have been implemented (or attempted) to date vary from light-touch to downright Orwellian.

An example of the failed implementation of workforce tracking involved British newspaper The Daily Telegraph installing a system of heat and motion sensors across its offices. Named OccupEye, the system could detect whether someone was at their desk or not, and for how long. Despite The Daily Telegraph arguing that the system would primarily used to boost energy efficiency in the building, it eventually backed off and uninstalled the system following an uproar from staff and labour unions.

In an attempt to capture staff who might be engaged in wrongdoing, JPMorgan reportedly used sophisticated software from Palantir Technologies to sift through email records, financial documents, printer and download activity, and more- online for the firm to become embroiled in a spying scandal. The firm has confirmed that it no longer engages in such practices.
Employee implants have already been trialled in Sweden.
(Employee implants have already been trialled in Sweden. Image via BioHax).

Perhaps the most extreme example of workforce tracking to date comes from Sweden where business hub Epicenter offers workers the opportunity to implanted with microchips the size of grains of rice. The benefit of being implanted is apparently ‘convenience’. No more passes on lanyards, or ID cards. Instead, a wave of the hand will open doors, operate printers, or buy food and drinks.

In the UK, a small implant company called BioTeq, claims to have already fitted 150 implants in staff. Another implant company, BioHax, told the Sunday Times that it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.

Have your say

As the research from Gartner indicates more and more companies are likely to engage in ‘non-traditional’ forms of monitoring and tracking their employees in the coming years. How in-depth, and in what form this monitoring takes will very much depend on push-back from workers, the reaction of labour unions and more.

What do you think? Would you be happy for your employer to track you? Is your employer already tracking you? Or is advanced workforce monitoring such as implants a step too far? Cast your vote in the poll at the top of the page or leave a comment with your thoughts below. The best comments will be featured in next week’s EngineeringPro newsletter and will be published along with the results of poll on Monday 8th April.
Recent Comments
I do track my own DOG with a microchip. Bow-wow-auuu. So my employer thinks that I AM HIS DOG??? Tell him to stop drinking cool-aid. Then take a cold-shower.
ANDRE GURSES, 17 April 2019
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Poll: Would you let your employer 'track' you? - Time to read 4 min
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