What companies lose when they track worker productivity (Ep. 478)
The home team gathers for a conversation about workplace productivity monitoring: Does it motivate employees to get more done, or does it lead to stress that takes away from deep, focused work and replaces it with busywork instead? Plus, the benefits of remote work for neurodivergent people, the nations moving to protect data sovereignty, and the crypto “geniuses” who filed for bankruptcy and disappeared, leaving a 171-foot yacht in their wake.
What do companies want to gain through monitoring software—and what do they, and their employees, stand to lose? Read more.
In Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport makes the point that our world isn’t geared toward deep, focused, flow-state work; instead, it rewards the appearance of busyness. Workers who see their keystrokes or mouse movements tracked are likely to focus on those behaviors instead of their projects.
More than 50 countries are establishing rules to control their digital information and achieve data sovereignty. Read more.
Gather round for the latest in cautionary crypto tales: The Crypto Geniuses Who Vaporized a Trillion Dollars. If you’re in the market, you can buy their yacht, the Much Wow (we kid you not).
Today’s Lifeboat badge goes to user Tonyyyy for their answer to the question In what way does wait(NULL) work exactly in C?.crypto, digital sovereignty, the stack overflow podcast
Can you please just set a cookie to say “I’ve set my cookie preferences, don’t ask me again”
(at least, until you change your policy…)
I’ve had good luck with the SuperAgent browser extension on most sites: you set what level of cookies you want to accept in its config (obviously only the functional ones), and then it attempts to set that level in most standardized consent forms automatically. It doesn’t eliminate abusive tracking attempts on the part of the site owner, but it takes away the mind numbing clicking from you as a user.
Welcome to the Orwellian reality. I’m happy the company I work for – 100% remotely – has a regular, natural work culture, without this surveillance nonsense. I am sure if any of us would work ineffectively, there would be a penalty, but there is a certain level of mutual trust. If you’re treated well as an employee, the employee will be more inclined to return the favor, if not out of honesty, then out of the fear of losing a job where he is treated well. As you say in the podcast, this pressure creates situations where people just do whatever just to make the clicks and mouse movements, which does not have to translate into productivity. My friend and his wife work remotely for different companies, and I remember her asking him to move the mouse when she needed to go to the bathroom. That’s sick. And yeah, as you say, what about people who don’t work a typical nine-to-five job? What about those who work creatively? People with health issues? We have to remember to stay human.
Why MOST of the episodes aren’t in Google Podcast? I do not use Spotify….
These surveillance techniques are likely pointing at the wrong people if the companies in question are merely watching ‘rank and file employees. Enron wasn’t taken down by the collective effort of rank and file employees nor were Lehman Brothers. It was the behaviour and decision-making of those higher in the org chart in their plush corner offices with nice views. How surveilled are they?
I’m also reminded of Goodheart’s Law – “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” In the tracking of employees, I wonder if this sage advice is ignored?