Trying to get the most out of workers is nothing new. And some form of accountability is crucial to an organization’s success. But minute-to-minute tracking of employee behavior, often using crude metrics, is a more aggressive form of accountability than has been historically normal.
“This is such an intimate form of control, which is part of why it took months of reporting to see,” Jodi told me. “To be clear, some workers really are derelict. But for many others, this is about what happens when you need to grab 10 minutes to clear your head, or deal with a kid interruption, or take a couple of extra minutes in the bathroom.”
In some cases, the monitoring systems may backfire, and the story documents how they can be inaccurate. Often, though, they can also contain accurate information about how an employee is performing from one minute to the next. And in doing so, they will further tilt the balance of workplace power away from workers and toward employers.
The growing mismatch also helps explain another trend: the increasing interest in labor unions among some workers, after decades of decline. Companies, not surprisingly, are pushing back.
For more: If you read the full story, you will get a sense for what it feels like to be tracked, thanks to a design by my colleagues Aliza Aufrichtig and Rumsey Taylor.