Creeper alert: Bosses track employees’ interactions to help them work better
Employers are tracking how employees connect and share information with colleagues to help them communicate more efficiently.
Until you consider how the information they collect is being used.
Companies including Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Microsoft Corp. are mining their employees' emails, chat logs and face-to-face interactions to get a better idea of how information travels through the company.
But their intention isn't to become Big Brother. For BCG—who was preparing to move offices—the ultimate goal was to design an office space that promoted more efficient employee communication.
The company utilized new technologies—including sensor-laden ID badges that track employees' movement throughout the office and programs that analyze emails and online calendars—to determine how much time employees spend in meetings, writing emails and engaging in impromptu side conversations.
BCG discovered that their employees tend to spend too much time with bosses or direct reports in formal meetings. The ID badges also revealed that employees who stopped to chat with colleagues shared information more efficiently and saved approximately five hours a week in meetings.
BCG used this information to redesign their new office space to be more conducive to impromptu conversations instead of formal meetings. The company created a town-square style lounge area and offered free breakfast and lunch to encourage employees to meet and talk throughout the day.
While there are several tech companies offering solutions to track how your employees communicate, investing in one is not necessary. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that 24 percent of employees view formal meetings as their biggest productivity killer. Implementing a strategy to avoid them—such as open office plans that encourage the spontaneous exchange of ideas—would greatly improve productivity without invading employees' privacy.