Microsoft is removing the user names from its creepy “productivity score”

In response to a backlash, Microsoft has agreed to remove the user names from its new “Productivity Score” function that we talked about earlier this week.

To recap, they’d unveiled a feature last month that would have let employers track how their employees use Microsoft’s tools across 73 different measures — including things like how frequently you send emails, how often you turn your camera on during virtual meetings, how often you contribute to shared documents and group chats, and the number of days you used Word, Excel, Skype, Outlook, and other Microsoft tools in the last month. The tool could then send your boss a breakdown for each employee every month.

After a ton of criticism, they’ve backed off and instead will only be reporting those numbers in the aggregate, not by individual user.

Read more at Mashable.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

    1. Magenta Sky*

      I don’t believe for one second they’re not collecting exactly the same information, and reporting it back to Microsoft. The only change is what they show to employers.

      And whether they show it to employers or not, you can get your rent they’ll cheerfully sell it to advertisers.

      As and employee monitoring tool, it’s not even trying to measure the right thing. You don’t want to measure what your employees *do*, but rather what they *get* *done*.

      And if you don’t understand the difference, you shouldn’t be in management.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        In an OldJob, boss didn’t want us working from home.

        How would he know we were actually working? was his attitude.

        How did he know I was working when I was in the office?

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        You don’t want to measure what your employees *do*, but rather what they *get* *done*.

        I tell people that my value is in the work that I don’t do.

      3. Mr Froggy*

        You don’t want to measure what your employees *do*, but rather what they *get* *done*.

        It depends on what you are trying to measure and why, using this to baseline employee performance is absolutely the wrong way, and its unfortunate that bad companies and managers would absolutely abuse it that way.

        But using it to measure engagement and usage to be able to see what your users do on with the technology and be able to slice that data can be a very powerful tool for IT teams. For example having an individual user level of data can help me identify patterns in usage which can help determine if we have an adoption problem (didn’t present the tools in the right way) or a training problem (didn’t tell users how to use the tools) or more importantly we do not understand how the users get work done. The latter one can be extremely powerful for IT budgets and user satisfaction.

        If I see that Joe does most of his work on his cell phone I may not buy him a replacement laptop but instead maybe upgrade his 4 year old company cell phone or give him a tablet.
        If I find that Suzy never joins a Teams meeting but spends most of her time in spreadsheets, I don’t need to buy her a headset and a webcam but instead provide her training in data and analytics.

        1. Jonno*

          Sure, in an ideal world; but too many people see “you sent 3x as many e-mail as this other employee so you’re 3x as productive” and can’t be told otherwise

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “And what do you do for a living?”
            “Well I send emails to people.” Said no one ever.

            1. Fake Engineer*

              I say that all the time.
              “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a mechanical engineer.” “Cool. What do you work on?” “Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint.”

        2. Nanani*

          Or you could, you know, be aware of what their jobs actually are and provide equipment and budgets as a function of the work actually assigned. Almost as if you were, like, a manager, managing the work people do.

          Asking your employees what tools they need is also faster and cheaper.

      4. Kittenthatmoos*

        You are absolutely correct that this data is still being collected and can still be tied to individual users. All Microsoft did was make it slightly harder to get to.

        However, as an IT admin, this data is actually very useful. I can use it to determine if there are products that people aren’t using that I can cancel and stop paying for. I can also use it to determine if people are still using a product we told them time and time again to stop using for security reasons but we can’t completely remove access to it yet. I have enough technical skill to still access it and will continue to do so.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I’m actually amazed it took public outcry for them to realize how this would be received. Was there not a single person on the project team who was even slightly creeped out by this? Or maybe some people did have concerns but their work culture is too toxic to be able to voice them?

      1. Zombeyonce*

        My gut says that the people in charge of this are the exact kinds of managers that really want this information on their individual employees (and were already getting it w/these metrics). Anyone thinking it was creepy doesn’t fit in in a culture could even come up with this sort of thing. They only backed off because someone high up in marketing made them after all the bad press; the culture didn’t actually change.

      2. Toothless*

        Hi, I work at Microsoft on an internal IT compliance/governance/etc type team and I can help answer this question! Plenty of people definitely had concerns and voiced them, of which I heard a few on the various over-my-head meetings that I’m invited to listen in on but don’t speak in. It seemed to me to be part of the constant back-and-forth between the engineering people in charge of the product and the security and compliance people on my team who have to play stick-in-the-mud about making sure we don’t run afoul of privacy laws and general creepiness. The people building the product REALLY like telemetry and data not because they care about individual users but because it’s helpful for designing features and prioritizing work to make a product that will please the most people, and they want to know how many people use Microsoft products and how often and which features exactly. I can’t speak for the whole company, but my part of the company has not made any moves whatsoever towards creepy surveillance.

        1. Toothless*

          Fun fact: they did not use us as the guinea pigs for this! They couldn’t even get my organization, which manages the Microsoft instance of O365 and the other tools, to let them enable it on our own tenant :)

      3. Lavender Menace*

        I work in UX at a large tech company…this does not surprise me. At all. Developers can be awesome, but many of them have very positive and rosy expectations about what humans will do with their creations. See also Facebook.

    3. MarsJenkar*

      Even if they don’t, I’m still worried that even the aggregate info gathered and shown might still be too revealing. Even the US Census Bureau recognizes these concerns and actually does something about that.

      1. Mongrel*

        Yeah, even properly anonymized data can be de-anonymized if there’s a will and a large enough data set.

    4. lailaaaaah*

      Also, if you’re working for a small team, it’s still not going to be anonymous regardless.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes. If the data shows that the accounting software isn’t being used properly, or is only being used for a couple of hours a day, nobody’s going to accuse the sales manager of anything.

  1. Xenia*

    Yeesh! Serves Microsoft right. I’m glad they got a lot of backlash and I’m glad that they’re changing their tool.

  2. Snarkus Aurelius*

    A couple of thoughts…

    1) I work from home full-time now so I don’t use a notebook to write down things anymore. Since March, I’ve had a Word doc open to type up my notes and assignments. Does this mean I would score high because I’ve literally had Word open for nine months straight? I’ve never not had this doc open.

    2) I work for a government agency. Since the pandemic started, high profile staff have an automated reply that states they’re busy with the pandemic and response times will be slow, call if it’s an emergency, etc. Email programs send that message *every time* a person gets an email, which means these automated emails would count *in addition to* the regular emails that are sent. Wouldn’t that artificially inflate everything?

    3) Finally…ANYTIME you set up a system like this, you will find a group of people (usually engineers!) who will find a way to game the system. When I read the original article, I found at least five ways to manipulate this tracking system to make my productivity look higher, including setting up automated emails!

    4) If you’re a manager who has the time to look at these reports, you do not have enough to do.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I see a lot of people asking your question #1, if I have a doc open all or almost all the time, does that boost my use metrics for that tool? But I don’t see anyone who knows the answer. Does anyone know?

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I suspect that it tracks not only whether the program is open, but also whether it has they current focus. And possibly whether or not you’re actually interacting with it.

        On #2, it almost certainly distinguishes between automatic replies, scheduled notices, and manually typed emails.

        1. Venus*

          I would expect this as well. Which is why you need Homer Simpson’s little bird to peck Y aat the keyboard

      2. Sweet Christmas*

        I am fairly certain it wouldn’t boost your metrics. I’m pretty sure that Microsoft 365 products can tell when you’re idle in them. For example, Teams can switch to Away even if it’s still open on your PC, and your circle can also turn yellow on Outlook even if it’s still up and open on your computer. Word also knows to autosave after you’ve typed new data but not necessarily when you’re idle. It also makes sense that it would know if you minimized an app (and were therefore not using it). The metrics may increase slightly, just long enough for the computer to tell that you’re away/not using the program, but not by much.

    2. irene adler*

      For #1, if management is using this Microsoft productivity ‘tool’ to assess your productivity, then it’s only fair that you be paid for all the time the document was open. Hence, a whole lot of OT should come your way. After all, you were working on it the entire time it was open, right? The productivity score says that you were.

      Just my 2 cents.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        At my org we have some concerns people are overworking under the pandemic and losing work/life balance – HR in particular is worried about this, as is our CEO.

        So earlier this year I brought the idea of using this tool as a temperature check on what’s going on, with warnings that we’d have to be careful how we looked at the info. We haven’t acted on it yet though.

        1. Sweet Christmas*

          Why don’t you just ask people?

          I’m not being snarky. I’m a social scientist who works with data scientists often, though, and I often see people reaching for technological or telemetry-based solutions when simpler ones would work just as well or better.

          If you have set the tone as a workplace that truly cares about your people, you craft the questions well, and you make the survey anonymous, people will just tell you if they are overworking and losing work/life balance. My team just conducted a survey of this nature recently and people were brutally honest.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Yup. A tool from IT will never be able to report back the human condition like stress, anxiety, depression etc that heavily factor into performance.

            No computer is that smart.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yes, this!
            Imagine someone who’s messed up and is trying to fix it at 2 am before anyone notices because they’re worried about what might happen if the boss notices. Knowing that all their work is being logged on this tool will just send their anxiety skyrocketing.

    3. Lucky*

      Please save all of your documents and restart your computer. You have months of updates waiting for you.

    4. Quill*

      Hey, sometimes it’s not engineers, sometimes it’s students!

      (Shout out to the course, which apparently discovered that we were “fast forwarding” the endless video segments by dragging the bar to the end and/or letting it play in a second tab, and ended up making their program a disastrous screen-hog within three years when my brother had to take it for freshman orientation. Ironically I think I saw more of the material than he did, because his solution was to let it run, muted, on his laptop while he played games on his phone.)

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      The third point is too real… In all my jobs there was at least one coworker who wrote down the answers for the mandatory and boring courses and offered to anyone who needed it.

  3. Ballot*

    There are so many jobs where tracking an employee every move is common place. Call centres, retail jobs, etc. (All lower wage paying jobs of course.)I wish people would backlash over that too and not just the white collar/office jobs.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      There are some office job employers who do this, but the more specialized the tasks, the more space employees have to push back. I was a recruiter for software engineers and we dropped a client because none of the engineers would work there and there was enough demand for their skills elsewhere.

      It was also stupid because none of the tracking metrics were relevant, just easy to quantify. They just counted key strokes per minute and time spent in their chair. They could sit there and write babble, delete it, and write more babble without penalty. Stopping to think and whiteboard about how a multinational retailer might want to structure their various systems, however, was.

        1. OtterB*


          Somewhere in my graduate education, in something to do with applied statistics or program evaluation, I remember reading about a standardized test of language proficiency. (Long ago, I no longer remember which test and am fuzzy on the details, but the general lesson holds.) There were two scores, one for vocabulary and one for written fluency. The vocabulary score could be machine-scored. The writing sample had to be hand -cored and so was much more time-consuming and expensive. The two scores correlated highly. The test company decided to drop the writing sample and do just the vocabulary test. They were apparently measuring the same thing, right? After that, of course, preparation for the test stopped including writing practice and just drilled vocabulary. And so the score on the test became less and less useful as a measure of a person’s ability to use the language.

        2. Tammy*

          I heard David McCandless (the guy) speak at an analytics conference a few years ago One of the things he said, which was on my office wall for a long time afterward, was that “it doesn’t matter how precisely you’re measuring something, if it’s not the right something”.

        3. Beatrice*


          My company is huge on metrics, and a team that my team works with recently implemented a “productivity” tracker that logs how quickly they complete tasks. Not how WELL, but how quickly. I’ve noticed an uptick in crappy work sent to my team from theirs as a result…and the only way I can get them to do anything about it is to implement my own data tracking so I can provide hard numbers to them that illustrate the problem (fortunately I love numbers and am stubborn and pedantic so I will absolutely be doing that.)

          We have an organizational love of data and analysis, and we use MS products, but aside from getting my own personal “productivity” reports from MS, I haven’t seen or heard of MS Analytics being used within my company. I have ten direct reports, and have not been asked to use it to track their productivity or been given any tools related to it.

    2. a username*

      I think for me it’s a matter of what is the tracking accomplishing. When I was a janitor, having to turn in a checklist of everything I got to that day and for some things, the time I did them, makes sense because we needed to adhere to legal standards of cleanliness (healthcare setting)

      Now as an office job librarian, I don’t mind tallying up how many books I process a month. That’s a useful stat for my boss. How often I have excel open (which is always, because I need that one spreadsheet that’s annoying to track down so I just always leave it open and minimized) is a useless stat and could in other ways be misleading.

    3. OtterB*

      Dan Heath’s newest book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, has some interesting thoughts on metrics and the ways people distort things to look good on high-stakes numbers. Recommended reading if the question interests you.

    4. Random Commenter*

      I think the problem is that the people in call centres and retail positions simply have less power. There’s very much an attitude of “if you don’t like it, get out”

    5. SomeoneElseToday*

      Cory Doctorow has a really good Twitter thread on this – how monitoring starts from the lowest, least powerful jobs; a quick jump up to exam monitoring software for students, then just up the ladder until the intrusiveness is normalized everywhere (well, except the EU where this is almost certainly illegal)

      1. SarahKay*

        Yes, I was reading the stuff on MS Office and thinking that this almost certainly wouldn’t get past the GDPR legislation in the EU, which is very, very serious about privacy and personal data. I’m also hoping very hard that here in the UK we retain that particular piece of legislation come next year :(

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I think we will. It’s a remarkably well written bit of legislation, most IT people in this country have now been trained on it and frankly we can’t come up with anything to replace it this quickly.

    6. Jennifer Juniper*

      Former call center worker here. That’s a way to lose your job for not being a good team player.

  4. juliebulie*

    Y’know what else they should remove? The entire thing!

    I realize that there are people who live for metrics, any metrics at all, however useless. As long as there’s money in keeping these people happy, it’s worth Microsoft’s while.

    More to the point, I think Microsoft wants to be able to point to these reports and say “look how much your people use our products. You’d be lost without us.” And if employees are compelled by fear to game the system by sending more emails and saving more documents, that’s even better for Microsoft.

    I wonder if there is a way to find out if my employer is using it, so that I know whether my employer is gullible or not.

    1. JJ*

      OMG yes, came here to point out how incredibly useless usage metrics are for this! You can’t SEO your productivity by like, using more keywords in emails, it’s just adding pointless behaviors which will take up MORE of the employees time, thus making them less productive.

      I use a wide variety of programs, some days it’s PPT and Word for 8 hours, other days I work the full 8 without touching a Microsoft product at all. Programs that require more of my attention (like account management software like Trello or Wrike) totally wreck my productivity and flow.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        Exactly. I spent Monday afternoon with a complex task that mostly involved web research to confirm things and Notepad to build my model. I wasn’t paying attention to mail or so much to our chat. And I help run a corporate network that uses a lot of MS products.

        If MS implemented this, there would be the equivalent of the “mouse jiggler” to bump up the numbers. My boss knows what I’m doing by talking to me, and checking my tracker board (Jira for us).

  5. The New Normal*

    The problem is that those services will now become a paid option for businesses. For an additional annual fee, your corporation can unlock the user names. And people will figure out quickly to set up filters to send an email every so often to a trap account or what not.

  6. Spoilers*

    We actually thought this was hilarious because there is nothing about the stats it sends that correlates with our staff doing our jobs. (We our first responders who haven’t worked even a single day from home)

    In fact, one off the CrApple phones we have loves to give weekly updates about how much less screen time we’ve had. It’s a phone used for specific emergencies only, so if it has even 10 minutes of screen time, it would be an unusual week.

    I realize these tools aren’t mean for anyone in a remotely non-traditional job (so like, 40% of the American workforce), but it still makes me giggle to think that I’ve spent zero minutes on Zoom…a program installed literally nowhere at my work or home. Oh well! Guess we’re all just not doing our jobs!

    Lastly, as a gamer, I’ll point out that screen time and “use” are not the same as actual engagement or work. Anyone can easily game the metrics for better or worse so it sounds like unhelpful data in the first place.

  7. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

    I noticed yesterday that I have a new “Cortana Daily Briefing Email” that is supposedly in order to help me prepare for upcoming meetings and to review tasks. My daily briefing yesterday included that I needed to follow up with client A about the to-go beverage menu at restaurant XYZ. Because we’d discussed it in an email, as I’ve known client A for roughly twenty years now. Comically NOT related to my job. The daily briefing email completely missed everything that pertained to the upcoming meeting though…so comically bad implementation on top of comically not related on top of vaguely creepy as I’ve never seen this before….

    And Cortana’s email address domain IS microsoft dot com so this may somehow be related?

    1. Chompers*

      I also get these annoying emails and the tasks it has me tracking are almost 100% tasks that I’ve already completed. I usually try to get my inbox to zero, so I can easily track what needs to be done simply by seeing it still in my inbox. All my Cortana tasks have been deleted or filed in folders.

      1. irene adler*

        For Outlook, periodically I get a list that indicates my unfinished tasks. Then it refers to emails I have received, none of which are task-related. Annoying!

    2. Lore*

      Yes! I just got this for the first time as well and promptly turned it off. It basically sent me a list of every email I’d received this week that had the word “when” in it, and also three random emails mentioning deadlines two weeks from now on tasks I can’t start until the other people involved finish theirs.

    3. nugget*

      Yes! I just got that yesterday too and it’s creepy. It was way over the top with “we’re trying to help you” language. The language about how “you’re getting this email because your company is opted in”… yikes.

      It being related to this was my first thought too – the placating emoloyee-facing side. If you get more and more entangled in the Microsoft web, they get more and more data from you.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        Yes, same email.

        Of course, the truly laughable part is “how much of my job is actually done using Microsoft products?” and the answer is “not very much at all”.

        1. SomeoneElseToday*

          Got the same email – I thought it was spam! And then the “task list” that I needed to do was a sentence pulled from our standard-form “if this email went astray” notice. The whole message from Cortana was basically “5 days ago PersonA sent you this [disclaimer sentence] do you want to follow up” and it was so context-less I had to hunt up the message to see what I’d missed. I’d missed nothing, but boy if that’s how they’re setting up “helpful” I despair. (I mean, sometimes I despair more generally, this would be more specific Microsoft despair…)

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        OMG it’s Clippy’s creepy little brother…

        “Looks like you’re writing a letter! Is it a business letter? I can help!”

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          I was so thrilled when Petz (the original one) allowed me to replace Clippy-dippy with a puppy. He just wanted to play while I was typing term papers. He was FAR more fun than the “Assistant”.

    4. Lacey*

      That’s absurdly annoying.

      I’m just kind of baffled that they think this would be helpful. We all have task trackers if we need them.

  8. NW Mossy*

    Oh, Microsoft, how cute of you to set up a measure that just so happens to directly associate high productivity with high usage of your firm’s applications. I see what you did there.

    This would be much more accurately called an activity score. Activity and productivity can be related, but it’s BS to argue that they’re the same. You can only tell if a work activity is productive by observing its outcome and how that outcome advances progress on the organization’s goals. Passively tracking clicks and keystrokes in applications can’t assess the outcome side, and are therefore useless to any manager who’s primarily interested in what their staff are accomplishing with their time and energy.

    Sadly, this is just another expression of the “track everything and figure out if the info’s useful later” mindset that is unhelpful to everyone but companies with financial bets on Big Data.

    1. Sleepy*

      A few months ago my partner got an automated message from Outlook telling him that he might be responding to messages *too quickly*. The message stated his average turnaround time and stated that this could be a sign that he is prioritizing responding to emails over doing other tasks. I guess this was an earlier version of this feature before it was available to managers. It quite silly because how you should prioritize emails is going to be totally different depending on your role, but it was also kind of surprising that the default was not just “more/quicker emails = better”.

      I totally agree on the garbage ‘track everything’ mindset though. I feel like we’re headed for a big data bubble.

  9. Deborah*

    Am I the only one who assumes everything I do on a work computer is or can be monitored and reported?

    1. OtterB*

      I assume this also, but there’s a distinction between “can be monitored and reported” and “is routinely monitored and reported in meaningless statistics.”

      1. Deborah*

        Yeah, I was being dark. I’m not saying it’s good that Microsoft is getting into the monitoring game (publicly). Just that…even if they cancelled the program entirely I would still assume I was being monitored unless proven otherwise. And I would still suspect that it was happening despite the proof.

        My current job seems really laid back and my boss definitely cares about results not time and actions. I still think about it. We’re transitioning as a company from instant messaging on one platform to a different one and they trying to get people to adopt the new one and get used to it before the old one goes away, and they told us recently the % change in uptake of the new IM platform in the previous month. They pitched it as a positive because the number moved significantly. Which seemed like a reasonable thing for them to say until I thought about the implications just now.

    2. Quill*

      Think it’s less “corporate can tell that I’ve hit the internet for streaming music” that’s an issue for me than “corporate does not know that my job is sometimes done on physical papers on my desk / very niche non-microsoft software and people are afraid they’ll tie this, across the board, to how they view your performance.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I assume that every key click is recorded somewhere. I am waiting for the day someone yells at me for checking the weather forecast (this is like explaining why people need pens at work, we need to have an idea of the weather especially in the winter.) I can’t wait. I am So Ready.

  10. PeruvianLlamar*

    I use my work laptop as my primary personal laptop for social zooms, casual Facebook browsing, internet shopping etc. Probably averaging about 14 hours a day of screentime at the moment (yes, I know…). I can only assume my productivity score would be through the roof? Plus as someone who works in social media, I’m not sure how they would distinguish personal social media time from work tasks…

    1. juliebulie*

      It only tracks your use of Microsoft business products. I don’t know if it tracks your use of browsers, but if so you would have to be using Microsoft Edge or else it wouldn’t count either.

      If you are using Chrome to do all of those things, your productivity score would be zero.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The report should read, “Thanks for using MS products.” If I am using MS products I am not in my main program where the bulk of my work is.

  11. Sunflower*

    Does the Microsoft update have an effect on Skype and is it integrated with Zoom? I recall it said it could measure if you actually attend meetings. We use Skype for Business (chat between employees) and Zoom for VC meetings. Skype links to our Outlook calendars (ie when you’re in a meeting on your calendar, it changes your icon from available to ‘in a meeting’).

    Today I went to skype someone who was 3 mins late to a meeting and their icon was available. It changed to red/in a meeting only after they logged into the Zoom. I’ve noticed this happening a few other times but not consistent so I was inclined to think it’s a bug. I also can’t find anything in any of their FAQ’s or updates outlining this.

    I don’t see this outlined anywhere in

    1. juliebulie*

      Could they have changed their icon manually? Some people do this when they’re using tools that aren’t integrated with Skype/Teams/Outlook.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      You can manually change your Lync/Skype status to whatever you want at any time on the Lync menu or on the Outlook meeting notice, otherwise it will default to whatever activity type was selected by the inviter (“Show as: Busy, Available, Free, etc”). I don’t know about Zoom unless the meeting notice is also in Outlook?

      A related (I think) issue that bugs me is getting both Outlook and Webex reminders to join a Webex meeting before, during, and after the meeting. I’m literally IN the meeting I’m being reminded to join. So yeah, not all the pieces talk to each other even if they are part of the same suite.

    3. lemon*

      I don’t think Microsoft is integrated with Zoom— they’re separate companies. Skype determines your availability based on what’s on your Outlook calendar, so the only way it knows you’re on a Zoom call is if you added it to your calendar as a meeting. Maybe your coworker’s computer clock was running 3 minutes behind, which is why they were late, and why their availability changed at the same time. Or they just changed their availability manually.

  12. GreenDoor*

    This still doesn’t solve the problem of employees – like me – who spend much of their day working in applications that are NOT Microsoft based. Or what about people like my co-worker who spends a mere 3 minutes filling out a Word template….after she spent 45 minutes in discussion with a client to discuss their questions and concerns. Did she “work” for 3 minutes…or 48? The fact that they won’t reveal user names doesn’t make this idea any less stupid and invasive.

  13. Rose*

    This has nothing to do with productivity and everything to do with getting people more dependent on Microsoft products. I can’t believe they’d do something so creepy with such thinly veiled reasoning.

  14. PinkiePieWorksHard*

    I so totally have an image of late 90’s Clippy, but in some form of sinister garb going “How can I monitor you today?”

  15. BigDealOverNothing*

    I don’t understand why everyone is so against an employer wanting a new way to monitor productivity. Especially right now when there are so many people working remotely, which makes it more difficult to keep track of what’s going on. Personally, as a former supervisor, I would find this tool extremely helpful. In our line of work, not everyone has the same types of work, even though they all do the same job. Some may process hundreds of orders a day while some may field hundreds of emails or be involved in multiple meetings. It’d be nice to be able to get a better view of what makes up the bulk of each employees work day so we can better balance workloads, accounts and special projects. Not every position can be evaluated based on how/when you complete a job. Some positions are more about quantity and there need to be metrics to monitor that.

    A bad boss is going to find ways to nitpick everything you do, even without this software. A good boss can use it to help you better manage your work. I mean, if you’re using company property on company time then, why are you so worried about them monitoring your activity? If you aren’t screwing off, you shouldn’t have any reason not to want them to monitor your workload, right?

    1. Klida*

      It’s helpful for you to know that I spend eight hours typing in Word (loren ipsum via Lego robot while reading aam on my smartphone) versus seeing that our machine is now chugging along again (only took two hours wandering my flat thinking about the issue and then typing two lines in a none Microsoft product)?

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Monitoring at this granularity is basically the same as you watching over your staff’s shoulder all day, which I hope is behaviour that you wouldn’t do in an office.

  16. Look At It This Way*

    You are all looking at this the wrong way. This is Microsoft’s way of helping us weed out the really bad bosses and companies. I’m guessing you’ll be able to tell quickly who sucks at managing people when they start to rely on this data only for evaluating employees. :)

  17. Amethystmoon*

    The company I work for has other reports, and plus the managers have access to the same apps that we have access to. They can always check on what we are doing, as far as the Intranet apps go. Plus when we finish our tasks in the computer, the other people in the task chain get e-mailed automatically that those tasks are now at their step and they need to do their part in the chain. More than likely, someone (we support an entire large team) would complain about us not getting the work done, if we did not actually get it done. My job is very transparent. If all companies would build transparency like that into their process, there would be no need to micromanage people.

  18. the Viking Diva*

    Alison, thanks so much for alerting us to this in the original post, and for updating here. I can’t believe it’s a coincidence that I received a “daily briefing” from Cortana the morning after I read this. I work in a university and have fired off a strongly worded message to our OIT unit about surveillance and academic freedom.

  19. Introvert girl*

    Of they left it like it was they wouldn’t be able to sell it in the EU due to our strict privacy laws.

  20. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    I’m failing to even understand how the data without usernames is useful aside from MAYBE analyzing whether or not their company actually needs Microsoft products. Just can the entire thing. These numbers are even more meaningless than they were before (and they were already pretty meaningless). Goodness.

  21. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    Fortunately, my managers are very chill and unlikely to pay attention to anything like these measures, but the measures do seem ridiculous. Sending too many emails really is not a sign of productivity in my job, and half our team have laptops that do not have cameras in them. Mine does, but I attend all virtual meetings through my personal phone or tablet just because it seems to work better. And if anyone brought up these things, I’d just try to open as many word documents, etc., as possible in a day and make tiny unnecessary edits to boost my “score.” The whole idea is just absurd!

  22. Kittenthatmoos*

    It’s impressive how crazy this terrible article got and how much flack Microsoft got when this is a very common data collection and reporting feature available in other enterprise products. I am an admin for Office, Google, and Zoom at my company and I can access this type of data in all of their APIs with very little issue. Google even has this same report that Microsoft is getting beat up over, complete with usernames. The only difference is it doesn’t have a fancy name and it just quietly appeared in the Reports section under Usage a few weeks ago. All Microsoft did wrong was give it a name and market it too loudly.

  23. Anonymous for this*

    Lol, part of my job is analyzing the most efficient way to manufacture the teapots my company makes… Using software that isn’t a Microsoft product, and making tech packs on software that also isn’t a Microsoft product. And depending on the time of year, I may be away from my desk 3-7 hours every day, training or observing the production team.
    If someone were to analyze my productivity based on Microsoft usage, I’d look pretty useless on the days I’m most productive.

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