Microsoft to develop software to monitor employee habits?

The next time you intend to end a conference call early being inside a Microsoft Office, be careful. Because there might just be a software to monitor that. Yes, we know that’s hard, but maybe that’s what Microsoft may want to carry out for its employees in the near future – and maybe provide such a software for other companies too.

Its intention is to eradicate annoying workplace habits and improve the total productivity of employees. First filed in May 2010, through this Organizational Behavior, Monitoring, Analysis Patent patent, Microsoft plans to monitor employee behavior and create scorecards based on their habits.

The software would pick up bad habits such as cutting off conference calls early or turning up to meetings late through various forms of digital communication used in there like video conferences, telephone, text messages etc.

According to Microsoft:

“[In addition] to an email or voice conversation, other forms of interaction such as gestures, mannerisms, etc. in a video conference may also be analyzed and reported (e.g. nodding one’s head in agreement, shaking one’s head indicating disagreement, hand gestures, and similar ones). Additionally, patterns of communication may also be detected (in addition to distinct phrases or mannerisms).

For example, cutting off others during conversation, prolonged monologues, and comparable ones may be included in the category of behaviors to be discouraged. Similarly, a time of day, or day of week of initiating a conversation and likewise patterns may be of interest to the analysis (e.g. a supervisor calling his supervisees frequently during afterhours or at lunch time, or when they are busy may not recognize that habit until shown by the application). The patterns may also be pivoted on the relationship.

If an individual calls a direct report during lunch, it can have a stronger negative impact on the score than if they call a peer (though they both may be construed as negative and have a negative score impact)

As discussed above, scores may be computed based on phrases, as well as gestures, mannerisms, and patterns. Mannerisms may include visual cues such as wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, and similar ones.”

No. This software won’t catch you upon drinking an extra cup of coffee. Instead it revolves around monitoring official/work emails, IMs, video-chats and derives the statistical behavior of a particular employee. It is just a patent idea and only the bosses at Microsoft know how much this shall take form of actual software or remain an idea, just like the majority of other patents which restrict themselves to Redmond walls.

Do you think such an idea should take form of a software? Or should it remain as an idea itself?

Microsoft Student Partner | Computer Science graduate | Loves flirting with technology | Microsoft watcher | Syed Asrarullah lives on the web at @asrartheone.


  1. Thought Control

    Microsoft and behavioral sciences. First they’ll try th software inside Microsoft, then the marketing people will get a hold of it and then… we’ll all be scored/judged by hand gestures, facial expressions, and the like. I don’t subscribe to behavior control -this is what this ‘idea’ is really all about. I have two words for Microsoft and it isn’t ‘Happy Holidays’.

  2. Deltaone

    Love this idea. But, controlling someone behavior during her/his work could lead to chaos.

  3. ErnieK

    IMO any firm that install any software like this is asking for trouble.

    It is OK monitoring outgoing phone calls etc to check that heshe is not just talking to friend about the previous nights party etc and wasting company money by doing so or that the employee is not rudeoffensive to the customer [and also the reverse] . I can also see the monitoring of an employees punctuality onwith conference calls but the full monitoring of an employees full daily working habits is just asking for employer – employee friction.

    I can understand the reasons behind the idea but I think that this is a step too far. This would bring back the days of having to put your hand up and ask permission to go the toilet.

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