By John Arenas | February 11, 2014

Your Company is Following You. Maybe That’s a Good Thing.

Productivity tracking may actually instigate more workplace flexibility. Or the Orwellian office.

Data tracking has already proven to be a game-changer for e-commerce sites and online advertising. Based on your recent search history, Google targets ads directly to your inbox; airlines  study their clientele through bookings and the popularity of certain applications in their in-flight entertainment. If many of us were told this 20 years ago, we might think the future was headed to a place not far from the dystopian society painted by George Orwell in 1984.

Now, that same type of tracking research may be coming to the office.

Companies are more interested than ever in measuring their employees’ productivity in the office. The corporate structure is a changing rapidly; alternative workplace options are growing in popularity and availability, and it might be worth it for companies to subscribe. Here are a few of the most recent statistics.

A new global survey commissioned by Aruba Networks asked respondents if they would prefer a 10% pay raise or to be able to work from home two or three days a week. Over half (53-percent) of participants picked the work-from-home option. The 10% pay increase equates to 10% more hours worked in a year — that is, about nine extra days. People would prefer to work more hours to be able to perform their work based around their own life schedules.

According to the same study, the notion of “traditional” working hours is also slipping away. Connectivity through mobile devices, though it has its drawbacks, allows people the freedom to work whenever they wish. And 45% of respondents say they work most efficiently outside the regular workday — either before 9 am or after 6 pm. As a result, we are seeing a greater number of people working outside of the office. Aruba Networks also found that, around the world, 37% of individuals expect an increase of remote working. Among millennial workers (under age 35), that number jumps to 49% who expect to work remotely in 2014.

The results show that alternative workplace strategies are becoming of greater interest to individuals and to corporations, leaving them to track the time that people spend at work. By quantifying what we do at work and when and where we do it, employers can create work structures and agreements that are better suited to our strengths and to our needs. However, capturing that data — which will likely comprise timesheets and project management and analytics software — will likely come at a cost, says Clint Rule at Frog Design: “Expect debates about privacy rights and coercive versus caring uses of the technology.”

Will it be worth it?

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