Tracking employee’s at work: Is it inevitable?

In the past companies attempted to take the mind out of a human and instead treat them as just a body capable of doing repetitive processes, such as Ford’s assembly line technique. Now though, companies have begun to implement tracking devices on their workers in an attempt to quantify not just the physical aspects like before, but also their psychological ones. Moore and Robinson (2016) paper “The quantified self: What counts in the neoliberal workplace” show this to be bad as it increases competition and anxiety, but I argue this is simply a step we must take to advance our society.

For a long time there has been an established truth that for most companies their largest expense is labour. Now that automation has become a possible far cheaper solution, employers face the challenge of justifying having humans. The easiest way to do this is by having employees become as close to robots as possible. To do this tracking technology is a must so that companies can quantify things about humans that were previously unquantifiable. While it does have the negative affects to people seen in Moore and Robinson’s (2016) research, i believe this will only be temporary.

I believe the next step is that employers realise that humans are impossible to fully quantify. In line with @spidermmman argument that humans are self harming by always creating competition in things, I believe tracking is simply another version of that. But once we past this last hurdle, that is tracking, we can begin to put more effort into automation. Without experiencing that even tracked humans are worse than robots, I believe most companies would not be ready to switch to having most tasks automated, and thus tracking technology is a necessary evil. Once employers adopt the side of full automation it will free a large portion of humans from the typical job/career roles that we have been stuck in for ages. Once we can complete this I believe humans will then be able to make huge strides in all sorts of development. Thus I believe that tracking is simply a bad but needed step in humans advancement.

image: https://www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/trends-in-monitoring-and-tracking-employees

4 Comments

  1. Hello and thank you for your interesting insight!

    However, I disagree with you that human should be replaced by the automation. Because that is going to cause other social problems like massive technological unemployment. And you mentioned people will be able to strive for new things after the automation of job, but that statement does not seems to applicable on everyone. For most jobs that can be automated are usually blue-collar job, and those worker are unlikely to make a living without their job. How can they go to the strive for higher hierarchy of need without satisfying their basic need first? Instead of automation of job, do you think the company should stop tracking their worker once certain level of productivity is reached? In another word, set a shorter and less aggressive goal for this on-going competition?

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  2. Thanks for the comment. Regarding you comment, I still believe autmation is the way to go. As automation increases almost all jobs will be taken away from us (white collar ones are actually seeming to go before blue collar). That’s why were going to need some sort of solution such as a universal basic income or else I agree people wont be able to achieve their basic needs. Regarding reaching a certain level of productivity, how would we know when to stop? Using horses in business use to be a very productive tool but as technology increased we replaced horses with machines. I feel like we are just like the horses here, and we will be eventually replaced by machines.

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  3. @mark
    I think we should agree to disagree as stopping the development or not is one of the most controversial argument of technological development, and no one know what is the correct answer for that. But still you gave a really interesting argument, thank you!

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  4. Thank you for your excellent point of view. I agree with you, although it looks a little “evil”. This may be an example of machines defeating humans. With the progress of science and technology, it has been proved that human beings can not compete with machines in terms of physical strength and intelligence. But man should do what man should do. The most wise thing of mankind is that man can use tools. When cars were invented, human feet were liberated; when machines were invented, human hands were liberated; and when computers were invented, human brains were liberated. Man should not be a machine, but should use it to promote the development and progress of human civilization.

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