The world isn’t ready for an Orwellian worklife

Photo Credit: Janis mcMath

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m currently unemployed, or else I might have my bosses monitor me while I’m writing this article.

That is probably a tad hyperbolic, but it might not be within a few years, depending on companies who are pioneering 24-hour employee monitoring.

As first reported by CBC in May, businesses like Buffer in California and The Outside View over in the UK are providing their employees with wristwatches that allow them to monitor things like sleeping habits, exercise, nutrition, and happiness (which would be interesting to see how they quantify). That information is then shared for purposes of increasing productivity and efficiency, and other reasons you’d likely hear your ex say when you catch them creeping on your life when it clearly isn’t appropriate.

Vameesha Patel, president of the Human Resources Student Association at SFU, ultimately believes that it is okay for our employers to find out more information about us, but said that she wouldn’t like being monitored, and that this can be detrimental to workplace efficiency.

“This is harmful to overall company morale, which as a student studying Human Resource Management, is crucial to the success of an organization,” said Patel through email correspondence. “Without company morale amongst the workers, there can’t be trust, and if there is no trust, then how efficiently and effectively does the company accomplish its goals?”

There needs to be a very solid line between your corporate life and your private life, unless you want to totally give up those boundaries personally. Despite how preachy he came off, Karl Marx was more or less right in The Communist Manifesto when he suggested that defining ourselves by our labour’s worth is to alienate ourselves as an individual in an ultimately capitalist society.

Some folks do, as you can see by incredibly dedicated artists, performers, and — to a lesser extent — professional athletes. However, many of them chose to go into those professions, and don’t have direct employers with whom they have a relation.

If you think this whole thing comes off as creepy and overbearing, you’re not alone. There are also huge security risks associated with this.

Since that information is being collected and stored, it is also available to be uncovered without consent. Just ask people who have had their nudes leaked or their Ashley Madison accounts exposed what having your personal information ripped away from you feels like.

One foreseeable future is that people who don’t have typical eating or sleeping habits could become exposed. Not a big deal if you’re neurotypical, but that becomes an incredibly large risk if your company or hackers find out your struggles with mental illness or anything else by monitoring the data on your personal life. Despite what we’d like to believe about ourselves, we human beings aren’t progressive enough to move past the stigmas surrounding mental health to let it affect job security, much less how we actually treat one another.

Maybe down the road, we’ll be able to perfect this technology so it doesn’t come across as invasive and stalker-ish, but for now the working class just isn’t ready to be subjected to employers monitoring who we are through constant vigilance.