Indeed, this list of features is disturbing and I fully agree that there is a risk of “enslaving” through well-being metrics. What is even more disturbing and paradoxical is that this servitude is voluntary (to use the words of Etienne de La Boétie). This “enslavement” is finally possible only because we kind of want it to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there may be some positives to Workplace Analytics that focus on employee well-being. Yes, we all know the risks of misuse and abuse of this information, even when it occurs in a context of good intentions, but without diminishing the importance of these issues, let me ignore these risks for a moment.
Like you, I find “impressive” how far we have come in performance monitoring. On one hand, i am impressed because 21st century Management finally realizes that work performance (especially knowledge work) requires a holistic look at motivation, trust, and well-being. Those three are the recipes for effectiveness which is the ultimate focus in knowledge worker performance. Unlike efficiency, effectiveness is hard to measure and so equally impressive is that organization’s like Microsoft are working around it, looking at personal well-being, burnout, stress and other factors. This may sound obvious to many of you but even in 2021, there are many managers across the planet that don’t subscribe to this.
As I mentioned earlier in this thread, 15% of the emails I have sent during my Covid19-induced work-from-home period (March 2020 - March 2021) have been outside of standard working hours. When you consider that in the whole of 2018 and 2019 only 1% of my emails were outside of standard working hours , then it is pretty clear to me that this Covid-19 work-from-home period is directly related to my sending more emails outside of normal working hours. It is not a direct cause but it is an indicator that workload has gone up during this period and so has the risk for stress and burnout.
That Microsoft launches a Workplace Analytics product (see also Viva) is proof that there is growing demand for this because ultimately it benefits the bottom line for employers.
But as an individual, I can also attest to the importance (to my personal well-being) of trying to keep all work related emails within the standard working hours. The fact that Microsoft now warns me of this without me having to issue tens of queries to my Outlook data mining plugin is a welcome feature not unlike all the fitness products, including Apple Watch, that have flooded the market to give us a broader and deeper understanding of our bodies and how we move through the day.