High-Tech ID Badge Tracks Workers' Entire Day on the Job

BOSTON (CBS) – It could be the future of office life: high-tech tracking devices that can monitor your entire day on the job.

The Boston start-up Humanyze wants to convince big business and employees that being watched can be a good thing.

“It’s sort of like a Fitbit for your career,” said Ben Waber, CEO of Humanyze. And just like a Fitbit, it’s with you all day long.

The same ID badge that opens office doors can now track your every move and more. “We are essentially able to augment those ID badges to figure out in real time really what people are doing at work.”

The badges are outfitted with Bluetooth, infrared, a motion sensor, and two microphones. Waber told us the microphones don’t record what people are actually saying, just if they are communicating with a colleague. The technology is already being used at several big corporations.

“You are the only one who sees data about yourself,” Waber said.

The boss never sees data about one specific employee but instead sees data compiled into a series of graphs. The diagrams can detail if the sales team is collaborating with the engineering team, if groups of employees are spending too much time in meetings, or too much time alone at their desk.

“The way this works is this is opt-in. We will never present individual data and if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to,” explained Waber. He says Humanyze won’t do business with companies that don’t let their own employees decide whether to participate.

Waber says this type of data-driven information is not only good for a company’s bottom line but to let businesses know if their policies are having an impact.

“Lots of companies are investing in diversity inclusion programs. But, no one knows if they actually work. For example, we know how many women are in a company,” Waber said. “So, how much of the time are they invited to meetings? How much of their managers communicate with them? Really simple stuff.”

But as you might imagine not all employees want to be watched-over at work. We caught up with some Boston workers on Boylston Street who were a bit apprehensive about tracking devices.

“It’s a little disconcerting I think.”

“Employees, they don’t want big brother looking at them.”

Like it or not, companies are already able to keep tabs on workers.

“Employers have always been able to monitor employees,” explained Human Resources consultant Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner at Keystone Partners. Through emails, phone calls, and time on-line the boss can easily monitor how you spend your day at work.

The Humanyze badge aims to take monitoring beyond the individual level. “It goes way past micro-managing an individual employee and it says ‘how can, as an organization, we take a look at the things that our employees are currently doing.’ ” explained Varelas. It’s all perfectly legal but Varelas still welcomes new regulations, “Right now, you can’t follow people into the bathroom. That’s clearly a minimal but there should be more.”

Because you never know who may be watching.