Micromanagement: Is Your Boss Going to Start Using Sensors On You?

Posted by: Jena McGregor on August 29, 2008

Talk about frightening workplace technology: This story in the Economist highlights new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which researchers strapped high-tech “identity badges” to workers to study their moves and interactions. What they found: People with rhythmic movements were more productive, as were those who were the most socially connected in the office.

The experiment was performed on workers at a U.S. technology company and a German bank, and luckily, does not yet seem practical enough to have become something more than an experiment. Obviously, the concept of having some kind of sensor track your every move at work would be unnerving, if not terribly invasive, to many people. The author of the Economist piece writes that the researchers have a suggestion for allaying such concerns: “It will also help, they believe, if everyone is treated equally, so that the boss’s actions, foibles and shortcomings are as transparent as those of his minions. Now that really would be a revolution in management science.”

Reader Comments

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August 30, 2008 1:53 PM

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Thomas

August 31, 2008 11:39 PM

Hi, I have to chuckle at these types of fads. Just because an employee is going through the motions doesn't mean he or she is actually creating value for your company. This research is trying to answer the latter while actually answering the former.

Alex Ivanoff

December 9, 2008 7:07 AM

I don't really care if my boss one day decides to monitor my activities - I just don't waste time when at work. But if you come to work to chat with your co-workers or spend a couple of hours in Facebook - then yes, you should worry.

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Larry Underwood

March 28, 2009 6:29 AM

This sounds like the sequel for "Office Space"...More inane corporate garbage designed to lower morale even further into the abyss. Even if companies did it, I'm sure some genius would figure out a way to break the code and make the bosses think he was busily at work, while posting some stupid comments on Exec Tweets, instead. Bravo, Corporate America. Sounds like a great idea.

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