Injecting nanotechnology into someone’s blood to track where he/she is physically as well as their mental state; is it really science fiction? In the latest Spectre movie, James Bond is injected with ‘smart blood’. His every move is monitored and he can no longer prowl around unnoticed. This is not ideal for a spy, even if his employer does benefit from this technology. This situation sounds like a vision, something from the future; however in today’s workplace the employee is increasingly being monitored through all sorts of analytical tools & technology. How desirable is this?
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Nowadays it is possible to track the behaviour of employees through all sorts of sensors in the office, mobiles’ location or even through an email signature (i.e sent from mobile). These so-called HR analytics are intended to reveal the secrets of the perfect employee. For employers it is an opportunity to create more value from employees, but where do staff members stand on this evolution? This is the main issue now a growing numbers of firms apply big data analysis against their employees’ performance. Is the employee’s productivity the sum of his/her mood, physical condition and the number of steps he/she takes during office hours?
Abandoning privacy voluntarily
Collecting personal details has always been a tricky question in the workplace. Employers want their employees to work ‘better’ and become more productive. The reality is people certainly don’t want to abandon their privacy voluntarily.
As an employer it is best to look at it from a different angle. Don’t try to slaughter the goose laying the golden egg, but create the best possible circumstances so that he/she can lay eggs more easily. Inspired by the Quantified Self movement in which people measure their own health and performance, the term Quantified Workplace has arisen: how do you create an environment in which employees are more healthy, more productive and more involved in the duties they are performing?
Able to function optimally
Alongside performance data, you can also measure all sorts of personal data, such as stress, movement, heartbeats, sleep or social interaction, with a specific objective. It is no longer about checking up on people to influence their productivity, it is about measuring what conditions are needed for them to perform at their best. For instance, you can consider in which environment someone performs best, or in what type of company, or at what temperature, or during which working hours. Based on these insights, the employee chooses his or her best environment and the moments to ‘recharge’, and when to get going once more at his or her most productive hours.
The New World of Work was devised to let people work more flexibly and efficiently with a focus on cost-savings and a more efficient use of space. Now that we are in a better position to consider how people (almost literally) feel, it becomes possible to offer each employee the ideal working place and conditions which match his or her style of working. Opt to set up ICT and a working environment based on what actually makes your employees and processes more productive. Only then will you be able to really add value to the organisation. The ‘smart blood’ technology in Spectre might perhaps still be a bit too futuristic, but it is certainly a good vision of where we are heading.
Business Consultant Planon Netherlands