Technology New world. Monitoring teleworkers: Microsoft’s “productivity score” raises questions

New world. Monitoring teleworkers: Microsoft’s “productivity score” raises questions




An employee teleworking. Illustrative photo. (THIBAUD VAERMAN / HANS LUCAS)

It is a function that goes wrong. A small function offered to companies with the Office 365 office suite. Entitled “productivity score”, it is an index, from 0 to 800, for each employee, which allows managers to know, for example, what is time spent working on Excel spreadsheets, emails, video conferencing, or even time spent not working. Managers can follow all of this in real time on dashboards.

Microsoft’s Office 365 suite (word processor, calendar, email, etc.) is used in many companies. These tools are not new, they date from last year, but with lockdowns and the spread of teleworking, they are even more important today. Austrian researcher and anti-surveillance activist, Wolfie Christl, was the first to be moved. on Twitter. Associations for the defense of privacy have engaged.

Note that this tool has nothing to do with surveillance systems by webcam or using spyware, such as some companies, especially in the United States, to “police” teleworkers. According to Microsoft, the “productivity score” should help managers to measure themselves with other companies and also to assess the possible difficulties related to the internal use of these solutions for the sake of return on investment. This involves, for example, identifying any training needs. There are also technical analyzes regarding connection speeds or application startup times.

In a press release, the American firm also explains that the “productivity score” is optional and that its activation is left to the goodwill of IT managers and management. The fact remains that these tools can be misused and mistrust can seem legitimate. This case raises the question of the use of metadata. That is to say secondary data, linked to the use of IT tools. In all areas, it can serve the best, as well as the worst.



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