A Wisconsin company microchipping its employees is just the tip of the iceberg
Big Brother is watching you work.
One in three workers say they are being tracked by their jobs – according to a survey from a company that actually makes this sort of tracking software for employers.
And now this on-the-clock surveillance is literally getting under your skin.
A Wisconsin tech company is poised to become the first U.S. employer to offer microchip implants to its workforce. In fact, more than 50 employees at Three Square Market have already signed up to get the $300 radio-frequency identification (RFID) device – about the size of a grain of rice – inserted between the user’s thumb and forefinger. It’ll be used like a credit card for in-office purchases, and may one day log into office computers or share business cards.
At least this chip isn’t using GPS tracking, which other businesses have tapped to keep tabs on their workers. In fact, company-issued phones, cars and even smart office furniture can be used to track your moves and keep you on task.
“There are very few laws that regulate employer electronic tracking of employees,” Jay Stanley, who covers technology-related privacy issues with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Moneyish. Your boss has the right to monitor your work productivity and performance – albeit, not in the bathroom. “Anytime your employer has access to technology that has the potential to track you – like a work-issued cell phone or a vehicle with GPS – ask straight-up if it is being used to track your whereabouts during work hours, as well as outside of work hours.”
Feel like you’re being watched? Here are five ways that companies are monitoring their employees.
MICROCHIPS. Swedish tech company Epicenter has already implanted microchips similar to the ones described above into 150 of its employees to monitor how long they work, as well as frequently they take bathroom breaks. Then again, such “body hacking” has been trending in Sweden among people who’d prefer to use chips in their hands to pay for purchases and unlock doors. That technology was approved by the F.D.A. in 2004 for identification purposes, like tracking Alzheimer patients that might wander off and get lost,” Stanley noted.
CAMERAS. This spyware is hiding in plain sight. The average American is caught on surveillance camera more than 75 times a day. And more than half of employers use video surveillance, according to a American Management Association survey. They are mostly used to counter theft and violence, but 7% admitted to using the footage to keep an eye on workers.
GPS TRACKING APPS. A 2012 study by tech research firm Aberdeen Group found 62% of companies with employees working out in the field were using GPS to track the staff — up from just 30% of those companies four years before. Tracking apps and devices are supposed to monitor whether delivery staff or those making house calls are where they are supposed to be, and if they are taking the most efficient routes.
SENSOR-LADEN I.D. BADGES. Some health care facilities, including University of California-San Francisco Medical Center and Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, have nurses wearing badges that track their movements so that the caregivers can be found quickly. ABC reported that 55,000 hospital industry employees wear an electronic monitor as a condition of employment. The Wall Street Journal reported that Boston Consulting Group gave 20% of its employees smart badges recently to study how workers interact with each other ahead of an office move.
FURNITURE SENSORS. Imagine a desk chair that vibrates every hour to remind you to stand for a few minutes, or a desk that automatically adjusts to your height, while monitoring your mouse clicks and keystrokes? Smart furniture makers at Live OS Smart Furnishings are riddling office equipment with sensors to track employee mobility and productivity. And if it finds you spend three hours or less actually sitting at your desk, because you’re meeting with colleagues and clients? That can cue your boss that you don’t need a permanent seat, and should perhaps share a desk.
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