Star Trek Office Serf

How new data-collection technology will make you an office serf

Imagine a tiny microphone embedded in the ID badge dangling from the lanyard around your neck.

The mic is gauging the tone of your voice and how frequently you are contributing in meetings. Hidden accelerometers measure your body language and track how often you push away from your desk.

At the end of the end of each day, the badge will have collected roughly four gigabytes worth of data about your office behaviour.

Think this is far-fetched? Well, last winter employees at the consulting firm Deloitte in St. John’s, Nfld., used these very badges, which are being touted as the next frontier in office innovation.


Some things should be outlawed.

  • tom_billesley

    They’re a bit befuddled. Their full name is Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, not Deloitte Touche Tamagotchi.
    They’re using Newfoundland as a test bed for this innovation?

  • David

    The modern workplace is certainly morphing into a nightmare.

  • Alain

    A perfect asset for totalitarianism.

  • Yusuf_Al_Kafir

    It’s a wonder an alarm doesn’t go off at the detection of human flatulence.

    • Exile1981

      Mr. Jones we have to let you go. The sensors say your the cause of 80% of the unpleasent office smells and you spent 42% of your time scratching yourself.

  • With a bad case of diarrhea you will be written up for too many bathroom breaks.

  • FactsWillOut

    If you don’t like it, you’re free to work elsewhere.
    Data-mining for the purpose of making workers more comfortable or the company more profitable is a good idea.

    • Do you judge a worker by the quality or quantity of his work or how many times he comments on “The Walking Dead” during coffee breaks?

      • FactsWillOut

        Do you always throw straw-man arguments about?

        • Do you have an opinion that isn’t deliberately contrary?

          • FactsWillOut


          • Who’s in denial now?

          • FactsWillOut

            I deny nothing. NOTHING!

          • But you are.

            If everyone did an about-face on this, would you then defend privacy rights?

          • FactsWillOut

            So you have the right to privacy when you’re on the clock at your job?
            An employer can say “Your job here is to prance about in the nude”, and a prospective employee can take it or leave it. That’s how freedom works.

          • Don’t be silly.

            What you are proposing is an over-reach.

          • FactsWillOut

            Not at all. It depends entirely on the requirements of the employer:


          • And why does an employer need to know what is said at all times? Are confidential meetings held constantly?

          • FactsWillOut

            The employer’s right to know what is said on his property isn’t dependent on his need to know.

          • Privacy rights.

            Maybe the employer should leave!

            There’s your contrary argument.

          • FactsWillOut


            Given the governments proclivity for regulating the private sector, that’s exactly what the employers do.

          • Being squeezed on all sides.

          • FactsWillOut

            I expect it from the government. When the employees do it, I am frankly disgusted.

          • Just stop expecting good out of some people. You’ll be surprised when you finally see it.

      • I am watchin LA Zombie now;)

    • Norman_In_New_York

      This will not make workers more comfortable, and employers may have to raise salaries sufficiently to attract employees willing to put up with this bullshit.

      • FactsWillOut

        That’s not the worker’s call, it’s the Board’s/Shareholder’s call.
        The folk at CBC would like this outlawed, no doubt.

    • Xavier

      You are, of course, correct – but only to the limits of your assumptions. There’s no guarentee that this will be used only for good purposes. Experience tells us it only takes one bad employee (think IRS, or the police, or NSA, etc) to abuse the system – and it’s not a question of if, but how soon that will happen and how serious it will be.

      • FactsWillOut

        IRS, NSA, Police are not private sector.

  • FactsWillOut

    Hyperbole is unbecoming. Serfs can’t just up and quit.

    If a company wants to micro-manage every second a worker is on the clock getting paid by said company, video-tape them every second they are on company property, analyse their behavior, etc, the company should be free to do so.

    Unless you want the state to put further restrictions on the private sector?

  • ntt1

    why not go for the popular standing position for working online but add in a treadmill features that could be generating power to run the system.if an employee doesn’t generate his/her quota then small electric shocks could be applied.

    • FactsWillOut

      And if you generate more than your quota, you get a huge performance bonus.

  • Hard Little Machine

    They should cut out the middleman and bring back slavery.

    • FactsWillOut

      They already have.
      Half of your labor is at the behest of and to the profit of your owners.
      If you try to keep more of your money, they send armed goons after you.

      • Hard Little Machine

        I mean actual chattel slavery.

        • FactsWillOut

          Are you actually comparing this company policy to chattel slavery?

          • Hard Little Machine

            No I am saying we should bring back actual ownership of people outright.

          • FactsWillOut

            I’m all for indentured labor, under certain circumstances, to be honest.

  • Clink9

    Can’t wait to hear the whining when the office geek finds a way to hack these things.

    • FactsWillOut

      Home-made EMP bombs.

  • FactsWillOut

    Seems a lot of folk don’t know what “employment” means, so allow me to elaborate:
    An employer says “If you perform tasks A, B and C, etc for me every day, I will pay you X dollars a week. An employee can say “Yes” and accept the conditions of his job, or “No” and not take the job.
    The employee has no place whatsoever in determining what tasks he should or should not be doing for the employer, unless the employer asks for his input.

    Seems the progtard/commie/entitlement mentality is worse here in Canada than I had assumed.

    • Xavier

      I’ve been in that situation, and actually had to write job descriptions for new hires. If it isn’t in the job description, an employee has a legitimate beef if other tasks are assigned to them.

      I’m as pro-employeer rights as anyone you’ll meet but there have to be some employee rights too, and some level of privacy.

  • Xavier

    The upshot of this will be that the market will decide. No one is being forced into anything, and employees will have to weigh the privacy issue against whatever they’re being paid. Free market rules.

  • Clausewitz

    Where’s Tuttle when you really need him.