New feature to calculate 'productivity scores' turns Microsoft 365 into an full-fledged workplace surveillance tool

MrGuvernment

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https://twitter.com/WolfieChristl/status/1331221942850949121
Esoteric metrics based on analyzing extensive data about employee activities has been mostly the domain of fringe software vendors. Now it's built into MS 365. A new feature to calculate 'productivity scores' turns Microsoft 365 into an full-fledged workplace surveillance tool:

Promo video:

And so it begins....you want to take a crap? Work will know!
 

cjcox

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A story. There are two types of security people. Those that build a tall wall and dare to take on all attackers, and those that don't need a wall, because there's nothing there anyhow.

I love it when people take the "dare" approach, wanting a gazillion attackers all over their services. I mean, why? Why would anyone really want that?

In short, there is a better solution....
 

toast0

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If I'm running an Office product, my productivity is low. Especially if it's Outlook ... Let's wait all day for it to load an email. Let's be sure to close it before sleeping the laptop, because the laptop doesn't really sleep if Outlook is running. Let's push send and receive 20 times cause something got stuck.
 

drescherjm

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I'm glad my day job doesn't involve being in Office. Oh, I use Outlook for mail, and it's running all day long, but I don't actively use it for much of the day.
I actually have logs (source control entries) that say I have worked 7 days a week for the last few months. I don't think the company will want to look at these. With that said each week I am forced to lie and say I only worked 37.5 hours on the other hand I have had the same job since May 19, 1997.
 

auntjemima

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If I do more than an hour of work a week that's a busy week. Haters gonna hate but I've reached peak job efficiency, am the highest paid in my position and constantly praised by how fast I operate. As the old saying goes, work smarter not harder.

Same here. Get commendations and rewards for just doing my job, but actually doing your job properly has become so uncommon, it's become a super power.
 

DanNeely

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Having actually watched that video, for most categories it's just counting things like how many microsoft owned messaging systems you use, how much you edit shared office docs in MS cloud, if you use your webcam during meetings,etc. Any company that actually judges employee performance based on those numbers is so Dilbertine that doing so can't actually make things worse.

The only thing that actually looked useful out of that was metrics about which users computers were abnormally slow to boot/etc. That's useful data for IT to have; but irrelevant to how productive a person is.
 

toast0

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Same here. Get commendations and rewards for just doing my job, but actually doing your job properly has become so uncommon, it's become a super power.

Since I left my job, they've now filled my position with four people (at the same time), but I was only spending like 10% of the time on that stuff; so I have no idea how four people can work on it for all their time. 90% of my time was spent debugging random stuff that was broken across the company, and yelling at people not to do dumb things.
 

M76

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If I do more than an hour of work a week that's a busy week. Haters gonna hate but I've reached peak job efficiency, am the highest paid in my position and constantly praised by how fast I operate. As the old saying goes, work smarter not harder.
With this brilliant tool "HR" only sees that you were sitting around doing nothing while X was busy bee all week, it doesn't matter that they achieved less in one week than you in an hour.
The war on employees begun it has.
 

TheHig

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We have some extra spyware since going remote but I always put in a decent days work regardless so I hardly care.
With that being said..
My job has become “keep busy” over getting anything done. I work for the clock now since I’m an hourly employee. Years ago we had legitimate metrics and profit sharing. When you did well and the company did well we all get paid more. Now all the incentives and bonuses are gone and — shocker! People do enough not to get hassled. Sure we have some try hards and all they get is more work as a reward. My productivity has gone from top 5 consistently to top 1/3 and I’m super relaxed these days by comparison to when I was killing it. So less money but less stress so fair I guess? 😁
 

Powerage

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Nothing much to say other than I pity people with jobs where they have to deal with this shit. **** MS, bigtime.
 

Krenum

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https://twitter.com/WolfieChristl/status/1331221942850949121


Promo video:

And so it begins....you want to take a crap? Work will know!

Yeah...

200.gif
 

sphinx99

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This seems an inevitable sign of the times. Extensive WFH has changed certain norms about how to know if employees are productive. I've certainly seen it amongst my coworkers (some rising to the occasion and riding high; others seemingly "disappearing") and as a manager I've had to adjust how I assess performance, given that I haven't physically interacted with most of them for the better part of this calendar year. I personally dislike this, but I am not surprised by its emergence.
 

blandead

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It's been part of office365 / azure for like 3 years now. Last I checked (2 years ago) it tells you who you email the most and how much time you spent/wasted per contact. Plus how much time on conf calls, and how much time you spent working more than 8 hours (including reading and answering emails). I'm sure even more metrics are there now.

MS just put it in front of your face directly instead of having a user sign into a separate azure portal no one knew about.
 

NickJames

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With this brilliant tool "HR" only sees that you were sitting around doing nothing while X was busy bee all week, it doesn't matter that they achieved less in one week than you in an hour.
The war on employees begun it has.

It's disgusting but it would be funny to explain. "Oh John spent all week plotting the same data from the provider on excel? Yeah I just ran custom zone based OCR to capture the fields then used a script that automatically placed all the fields/values into a sortable table." It's an unfortunate double edged sword exposing our shortcuts but beats getting fired I guess.
 
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My employer started using this software last month ,its very Big Brother on steroids. Giving all who use it, a taste of the Chinese Social Credit Score system ,and its evils.
 

blackmomba

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This seems an inevitable sign of the times. Extensive WFH has changed certain norms about how to know if employees are productive. I've certainly seen it amongst my coworkers (some rising to the occasion and riding high; others seemingly "disappearing") and as a manager I've had to adjust how I assess performance, given that I haven't physically interacted with most of them for the better part of this calendar year. I personally dislike this, but I am not surprised by its emergence.

The ones that are rising up, do they complain about those that have seemingly disappeared?

I ask because I bitch to my boss about the few that really haven't contributed anything since we've started full time from home. He doesn't do anything about it. He continues to give them tasks they can't deliver and eventually won't deliver, while the rest break their backs. I've told him straight up that these guys were getting to the point of being a hinderance to many other key players and he basically shrugged it off saying we need better communication, coordination blah blah

Is it too early to start letting people go that can't work from home responsibly or should we do like my boss and do nothing ?
 

auntjemima

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The ones that are rising up, do they complain about those that have seemingly disappeared?

I ask because I bitch to my boss about the few that really haven't contributed anything since we've started full time from home. He doesn't do anything about it. He continues to give them tasks they can't deliver and eventually won't deliver, while the rest break their backs. I've told him straight up that these guys were getting to the point of being a hinderance to many other key players and he basically shrugged it off saying we need better communication, coordination blah blah

Is it too early to start letting people go that can't work from home responsibly or should we do like my boss and do nothing ?
I say neither?

Let me explain. I'll preface this with I'm in the military. So we have an abundance of mouth breathers that can't complete anything. Gun go bang, basically.

We have to give tasks out evenly, otherwise we are seen as being unfair. Fairness is most definitely a thing these days and if someone feels that aren't being treated like the others, they can raise a grievance, and they will likely win.

The alternative is to be fair, allow it to fail, then write them up on their quarterly assessment. When it does fail, you then have to train them to not fail. Explain what they did wrong, make suggestions and THEN give them more tasks, to see if they have remedied their problem.

If at this point they fail again, we can then add this to their annual assesment. Basically we need to have a failure in 1 of 16 categories more than once in a 12 month period, to bring it up on the annual. These annuals are used towards promotions.

If they continuously fail over and over, year after year? You have to keep giving them tasks, in the hope they can be rehabilitated.

Civilian side? I would think there has to be a policy to fire someone. Multiple reviews, or a warning system or something. I would think, as your boss, maybe he's doing things behind the scenes and hasn't mentioned it to you. And quite frankly, he shouldn't. You are their peer, not his.
 

Mylex

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My company made something similar in house and have used it to justify reductions in force. Well I was hit with one last Monday and during the meeting they raved about my reviews but my production has been low the last 90 days(the clients I design for were closed so I was helping others but it wasn't taking that into account). I took my severance package and didn't care to try and show them where they missed my impact. Fast forward to Thursday they would like to bring me back as my clients were about to ramp back up and the two projects I was helping with they would have to hire 2 new people or 1 with my similar skill set to work dedicated on both. I passed, I've work 60hrs a week for 7 years and they used a program to let me go on the day I returned from my first vacation in 18 months. F*ck that, companies won't learn until they lose profits that good workers will never fit into just one algorithm.
 

DejaWiz

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The company I contract for just switched over to M365. They gave our team the E3 license for O365, which means EVERYTHING that is Office is now web/cloud based...no formal applications installed, like we had with MSO2013.

This means we MUST have a network connection with internet connectivity in order to do anything that's related to any MSO document, spreadsheet, form, or presentation.

Problem is, our team is the IT field repair team in the heartland of the Midwest, and we do have to travel to some work sites that have no network/internet, so there's no way to pull up any pertinent MSO file formats that are attachments in our work order ticketing system anymore...we used to be able to download any said attachments to our laptop local drives, hit the road, then pull them up once on site, but now we can't because the MSO file types (.xls, .doc, .ppt, etc) aren't associated with any programs since those programs no longer reside on the local hard drive.

Not that the metrics tracking would really matter for our team, since our metrics are measured from the ticketing system, anyway.

Just saying that not all MSO tracking metrics will apply evenly to all job functions, so it's a rather stupid thing for a business to wield as a measure of employee worth/value...especially since job duties/focus can and often do change from hour to hour, day to day, year to year.
 

TheSlySyl

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I only have to deal with network based spreadsheets for a very limited amount per day. (Input sales from the previous day, make weekly schedules, order guides, etc.) But this sounds like hell.
 
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