Microsoft’s Creepy New “Productivity” Technology

Maybe working remotely won’t be the casual, relaxed atmosphere you may have experienced in the past now that Microsoft has just patented and released its new Productivity Score technology.

The technology assesses the ‘quality’ of employees in meetings in part by monitoring their body language and facial expressions. The patent application describes it as “a meeting evaluation machine configured to collect quality parameters from meeting quality monitoring devices.”

“Quality monitoring device 106B is a camera (visible light camera, infrared camera) that may, for instance, record which of the invited meeting participants attended the meeting, the body language and/or facial expressions of meeting participants, the amount of time each participant spends contributing during the meeting,” Microsoft ( MSFT ) said in the filing.

Microsoft is marketing this technology claiming its ability to support collaboration and better tech experiences. But it’s pretty clear that Microsoft is responding to companies’ fears (with some justification) that employees are not being productive when working in a remote environment.

This is a lousy use of technology as meetings clearly aren’t the equivalent of highly creative work, research, or writing. So I wouldn’t expect engagement levels to be close. I’ve managed many employees over the last three decades. And I’ve found that empowering employees to do their jobs, helping to remove obstacles, and trusting them to get the job done all inform the best approach to management. Surveillance isn’t the answer.

Everyone stay safe out there!

Author: Glenn Mores

President & CEO MicroData