Doctor Microsoft Will See You Now 👩‍⚕️

The potentially scary overlap between wellbeing and workplace technology

This article is from the Workforce Futurist Newsletter, please subscribe for original research and insights from the rapidly changing world of work.

Workforce Tech is hot at the moment with Monday IPO last week ($7.6B valuation) and Eightfold’s recent fund raising valuing it at over $2B.

There’s money to be made in our data.

I have previously highlighted how Microsoft is becoming increasingly dominant in Workforce Technology with Viva, Teams, LinkedIn, GitHub, Glint.

Microsoft has filed a patent to give wellness recommendations based on a user’s personal data.

From an intimate understanding of our work behaviour, it seems that Microsoft now has plans for understanding our health too.

With user’s permission, Microsoft would be able to use

Biometric data such as heart rate, blood pressure

Work event data — writing/reading emails, attending meetings, corrections made when writing an email, audio data from meetings, tone of language in email, how hard you press the keyboard.

By cross-checking work and biometric data (from a secondary device like a Fitbit), Microsoft could begin to understand what work events are triggering anxiety.

Dear Andy — every time you have a meeting with Cara — we notice you feel more anxious.

One of the challenges in People Analytics is the ‘So What Question’.

What do we do with this finding? I can’t stop meeting my boss!

One principle for work designers, using workforce technology is :

Empower Workers, Don’t Spy on them 🙈

In an era of Digital Taylorism, for every company that will roll out technology to empower workers, there will be another that does not.

There is a danger is that this technology in the wrong hands might be used as a pernicious worker surveillance tool.

As I mentioned in my article from a few years ago, The Quantified Workplace: Technology vs Trust? we can introduce new workforce technology but only at the speed of employee trust.

This is an excerpt from an article on the Workforce Futurist Newsletter which you can read here — Do You Trust the DAO?