The inevitable future of Slack is your boss using it to spy on you

A woman is at her desk partially hidden behind her monitor

Excerpt from this article:

Constant interruptions are the bane of life in today’s open-plan offices. And a Swedish-Swiss industrial engineering company, ABB, says it has a solution: It has given some of its employees a kind of automated “do not disturb” sign: custom-designed traffic lights for their desks.

The FlowLight system evaluates how busy someone is by measuring their combined mouse and keyboard activity against that person’s baseline average. When activity is in the top 9% of their typical range, the light turns red, letting colleagues know that it’s the wrong time to amble over with a funny anecdote or any question that’s not absolutely burning. Non-emergencies can wait until the light is green.

… maybe the FlowLight is just the latest and most blatant manifestation of a reality we’re already living with: The office productivity tools we’ve been told are meant to facilitate collaboration, improve communications, or encourage collegiality are constantly watching and measuring us.

… He imagines a day when Slack conversations will be subjected to sentiment analysis and managers will offer employees granular, daily feedback in place of yearly reviews. And if Slack doesn’t go there, maybe one of its competitors—Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, Google Allo, and lesser-known names—will.

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