Dec 8, 2020 - Economy & Business

Breaking down Microsoft's "Productivity Score" tool

Illustration of a surveillance camera and someone at a desk
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft has a new tool called "Productivity Score" that lets managers track how often their workforces are using Word and Excel, how many emails they're sending on Outlook, and how many video meetings they're attending on Teams or Skype.

The big picture: After fielding backlash over privacy concerns, Microsoft no longer allows companies to collect individual employee data with the tool. Firms can just look at aggregate numbers to track how they're using different products.

Why it matters: Just as the coronavirus pandemic has acted as an accelerant for the adoption of remote work, it has also normalized increased surveillance and data collection such as the "Productivity Score."

  • Some employers are taking workers' temperatures and collecting medical histories in the name of safety.
  • Others are using trackers to surveil their remote employees because they might doubt their ability to get work done at home.

The bottom line: Integrating such invasive surveillance technology into the workplace can swiftly erode workers' trust in their bosses and push them to quit.

Go deeper: The pandemic is ushering in a new era of workplace surveillance

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Microsoft's "Productivity Score" no longer allows companies to collect individual employee data.

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