A Message to Our Valued Employees on Our New Worker Productivity Monitoring Software

“Now digital productivity monitoring is also spreading among white-collar jobs and roles that require graduate degrees. Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, ‘idle’ buttons, or just quiet, constantly accumulating records. Pauses can lead to penalties, from lost pay to lost jobs.” The New York Times

Dear valued employees,

Starting today, we’re implementing worker productivity monitoring software in all your computers. Why? The short answer: we don’t trust you. The long answer: in today’s complex global economy, where everything from workers’ rights to ecological stability is sacrificed at the altar of quarterly earnings reports, corporations like ours need to be able to turn everything into a metric, up to and including the time our employees spend using the bathroom, picking their nose, and looking for another job. This is how we prove to shareholders we’re “optimizing for efficiency,” “increasing productivity,” “trimming the fat,” and other corporate buzzwords we’ll use to mask the reality of your dehumanizing work conditions. Also, we don’t trust you.

The system operates the same way all near-future depictions of dystopian regimes operate: through constant surveillance. Every keystroke, link click, page scroll, or lack thereof feeds into our algorithm and allows us to quantify your worth as a human being. Inactive for more than a few minutes and we’ll gently remind you that you’re a lazy piece of garbage, and need to get back to making us money. It’s the kind of world a hardcore capitalist—and only a hardcore capitalist—wants to live in. You might as well nickname your work-issued laptop “Big Brother,” because he’ll always be watching you (lol, but not really).

If you refuse to install the productivity software on your computer, we’ll take that as a sign you’re probably already an unproductive worker, and fire you immediately. If you’re worried about the elements of your job that go beyond mindless keyboard tapping—things like “brainstorming,” “problem solving,” “organization,” and “communication,”—you should be, because we haven’t figured out a reliable way to measure these intangibles. And if it can’t get measured, it gets murdered (our new corporate slogan). That means the skills you spent years mastering are now completely devalued. If the computer ain’t clicking, we ain’t paying. If you need time to think critically about business solutions, please do so outside of business hours.

Now, before you get too outraged about working under constant surveillance, remember you pretty much asked for this arrangement when you refused to return to the office. You wanted to take meetings from your living room so you could avoid commuting and be around your kids more. Well, you can still be around your kids, but if we catch you parenting during business hours, not only will we dock your pay, we’ll also bill your kids for the time. Sounds harsh, but in a remote-first world, worker productivity software is the only way we can tip the scales of “work-life balance” back in favor of “work.” It’ll be like our own little version of the TV show “Severance,” except you’re entirely aware of the emotional trauma we’re inflicting upon you.

And before you run to submit your resignation, consider this arrangement might actually make work more fun. We’ll now share a ranking of the most productive workers in the organization in an effort to encourage a little friendly competition / trick you into channeling your rage at your colleagues rather than management for instituting such a draconian system. Also, remember that worker productivity software is quickly becoming the norm in corporate America, so quitting won’t help you escape a future in which the average worker has zero right to privacy.

Finally, for those of you wondering how you’ll find “meaning” or “fulfillment” in your career while doing a job that incentivizes busywork—you clearly haven’t been paying attention. The message a company sends to employees when it institutes worker productivity tracking is simple: we don’t care about you as a person, only what you can do for us. Also: we don’t trust you.

In conclusion, we like to think of all our employees as family, but treat them like prisoners. With this new chapter of worker surveillance, we’ll continue building towards a future none of you want to be part of, which is fine because we’re likely going to replace you with cheaper foreign labor anyway. Have additional questions? Please submit them to your manager, but note that the software will not recognize this as a “work-related” task, and you will not be paid for this time.

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