New Office ID Badges Can Track, Record Workers

Gizmos that monitor employees' movements, stress, and more are spreading
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2015 2:50 PM CDT
This employee ID badge by Humanyze can collect four gigabytes of data on employees every workday.   (Humanyze)

(Newser) – How would you feel about wearing an employee ID badge that tracks when you move away from your desk, how often you speak up at meetings, and how stressed you are? Such smart badges are already a reality, and they're spreading around the corporate world, the CBC reports. Boston-based Humanyze makes a badge that collects up to 4 gigabytes of data from employees every day. That data is shared with employees, who can compare their stats to those of the company as a whole. "The minute that you get the report that you're not speaking enough and that you don't show leadership, immediately, the next day, you change your behavior," says the head of a badge pilot at Canadian consulting Deloitte, which tried them. "It's powerful to see how people want to display better behavior."

The Independent Online reports employers try to use these data-collecting badges for "human optimization," maximizing employee performance the way sports teams use analytics on athletes' performance. Advocates say the badges can track employee physiology to the point employers will know when employees need a day off or whether they'll be "in the zone" for an upcoming meeting. Humanyze's badges have so far been used to detect how employees were reacting to a new office floor plan and to sync employee breaks to increase productivity, the CBC reports. But while Humanyze says it's badges don't record conversations or bathroom trips, there are concerns such technology could be used to invade employees' privacy, collecting data that could be used to fire them or pass them up for promotions.

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