Putting Workers Under the Microscope

Tracking employees with the Business Microscope
Tracking employees with the Business Microscope

Moving in a distinctly reverse direction to the innovation companies like Google and Zappos have embraced, where employees are given freedom in areas like creativity, time-off and more; a Japanese company has created a tool that will track just about every movement and interaction an employee has in the office or workplace.

The device, which is worn as a badge or ID card, holds chips and sensors which record a variety of behaviors, including how often a worker goes to the lavatory; to whom an employee speaks during the day, how often, where and with how much enthusiasm, and just about every move a worker is capable of making.

Hitachi, the developer of the device, calls it the “Business Microscope.” It is a good name since it will certainly make employees feel like they are being scrutinized as if they were  bugs on a slide under the eye of their supervisor.

The gadget can tell how often a worker gets up out of his chair, how far he walks and where he went. It can also tell how often he  speaks at meetings, reporting on how much and what he contributes to groups.

“Business Microscope uses sensor technology to measure and analyze inner company communication and activities. Multiple-sensor devices are placed inside a nameplate-type sensor that is attached to employees,” Hitachi said on its website.

“When the name tag sensors come within a specified distance of each other, they recognize each other and record the face time, body and behavior rhythm data to a server,” Hitachi added.

Hitachi said their goal for developing the badge is to make workers more efficient while also helping supervisors and bosses to organize the workspace to make it more worker-friendly, enhancing cooperation between workers.

About Peter Jefferson

Peter Jefferson is a full-time researcher for www.businessdistrict.com, a task he took on in 2011 when the site was launched. He brings to the position a wealth of practical experience in the field of fiscal policy, having consulted with various government bodies on revenue collection, expenditure and economic growth. Contact Peter at peter[at]businessdistrict.com