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Microsoft 365 has employee surveillance and analytics built in (twitter.com/wolfiechristl)
981 points by ColinWright on Nov 24, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 436 comments



Has anyone else been prompted by Office 365 to link your profile to your LinkedIn account? I almost went through with it because our internal employee directory is so completely useless and I'm always using LinkedIn to look people up. When I saw that information sharing could go both ways between my personal account and corporate [0], I bailed.

Even without the data sharing, just creating the connection between profiles gives Microsoft information. If they're doing individual-level performance analytics, they could track it from one organization to the next, no?

[0] https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/84077/linkedin...


> When I saw that information sharing could go both ways between my personal account and corporate, I bailed.

how can employers possibly be okay with this?


Most people will give an inch to feed their families. Many people have difficulty considering second-order effects of innocuous decisions.


I went one step further and deleted my LinkedIn account as soon as I heard it was sold to Microsoft. Wanted to do the same with my GitHub account but decided it's not (yet) worth the hassle.


I closed my GitHub account at that time (for the same reason) only to have to open a new one a week later because a new client had their repo there.


The same happened to me with Skype...


I get the knee-jerk reaction to look for scripts that fake activity and call this spying, but despite the name on the page, these kinds of metrics seem more focused on adoption of "productivity tools" (industry jargon for the suite) than measuring actual productivity.

IT leaders are always looking to show that technology tools that they pay for are being used and MSFT has an interest in providing visibility to encourage proactive communication and training to deepen penetration.

Maybe there are other screens that show more detail and it would be fair to disregard my comment in that case, but just based on what is in the twitter thread, metrics that count the number of days that a tool is used at least once are about as innocuous as they get.


Not to pick on you here, but to me, this is case and point of the type of "privacy rot" we have allowed to settle in the psyche of American minds.

Imagine if it was discovered that Bell, or Motorolla, or Cisco installed taps on business phones in the 80s and 90s to see which "productivity features" were being used, or for "reporting" -- it would make national headlines and businesses would be up in arms.

To me this is the worst side effect of the modern internet we have built, where data is being mined and pumped into every orifice available: we've lost a sense of what our privacy is truly worth. Thankfully, this latest generation is starting to lash out against it.


> "Imagine if it was discovered that Bell, or Motorolla, or Cisco installed taps on business phones in the 80s and 90s to see which "productivity features" were being used, or for "reporting" -- it would make national headlines and businesses would be up in arms."

I seem to remember that phone bills were a thing in the 80s and 90s, an itemised list of every number you called, when, how long you spent on the call, logs of every incoming and outgoing call on an entire system, used for reporting. Possibly judging sales people on call volumes and engagement metrics? Judging customer support people on time to close calls? And no national headline outcry.

No? Wasn't that a thing?


Yeah, I remember at least one report coming out after the (first? Maybe the 3G?) iphone came out of people receiving thousand-page bills that had to be sent in boxes because they detailed every data connection, back when they nickel-and-dimed you, either by time spent connected or by the kB.

It definitely seems absurd now in the midst of XX GB plans! (They just found different ways of charging you in silly ways, seemingly.)


What about call centers - Don't they also have metrics about phone calls such as call time, hold time etc? How is this any different?


Its a fair point, just a bit of a tough spot to put IT in, you know? If I buy a tool for my employees to use I want to know if they are using it to see if I am getting my money's worth. How would I do that if any attempt to measure usage, not matter how high level, is "spying"?


I'm not sure anyone's claiming that any attempt to measure usage is spying. We're not talking about metrics like "the technology org created 452 documents and spent 9h47m reading them". We're talking about "Sally spent 4m52s looking at the doc Tom wrote".

Big difference.


The page linked just says stuff like "50% of users installed the mobile app"


What about a culture where honesty is instilled and you can have frank discussions about what works, and what does not, directly with your employees?


How could I establish if my employees, aka human beings with a brain and set of vocal chords or functional equivalent, use a given tool?

I know what you mean but if that's satire, it's excellent.


Seems like you have a reverse purchasing problem...

i.e you are buying solutions in search of problems to solve, instead identifying a problems, then purchasing a solution

If you identified the problem first, then you would know of the solution fixed the problem because it would no longer be a problem


Maybe talk to them?


Seriously? Ask them if they use it and what they think about it.

I am so lucky that our IT actually values privacy very much. We have the spy tools but they have a real work ethic and therefore are far too lazy to look up private info.


Please, ask him


I agree that may be the purpose that it was designed. And I also see value in removing useless meetings for employees and giving them extra focus time.

The problem is how individual managers might use these analytics for nefarious purposes.


Not sure if this is the right place for this, but I feel the need to give a warning:

If you try to log in to certain MS apps with your work account (in particular OneNote), they will give you a checkbox to allow the org to manage Windows on that device. This checkbox is ignored (or really, visibly re-enabled during the auth flow).

It is very easy to end up in a situation where your org suddenly has full control of your personal Windows device. It is also very easy (again, because of broken auth workflows) to end up with your personal MS account on your work PC. OneDrive can then at any point (most likely after a Windows update) start downloading all of your personal content to your work device.

Microsoft has been trying to blur the lines between Windows and Office. IME, this has made both fundamentally untrustworthy, because it is very hard to know what I am authorizing (and they will explicitly ignore/reset my choice anyway) and where my data will end up.

It feels very bad to know that, at any time and without warning, Microsoft can begin sharing my personal data into my work-managed IT systems.


I got my first generated report the other day. My COO has already come out and said that it's not going to count towards anything but still, this is scary. When I do move on to another job, I'm going to be asking very specific questions around if/how they track employee performance.


> My COO has already come out and said that it's not going to count towards anything but still, this is scary.

Yeah, I've heard that one before. When OKRs were introduced at a previous placed I worked, they were supposedly for fun and just for us to see our progress. In the next annual review, they were the primary means of measuring one's "performance".


Then I'll just find a different job.


Just ask if they are using Microsoft and Windows or if they are actually being productive.


yea because nothing gets done on windows eyeroll


MS Teams makes me really paranoid. I take my mouse with me to the toilet and moves it around to not trigger the away notification ...


Same here - as well as coffee/piss breaks, sometimes I just need to sit away from the screen and think on a problem for a while, or work it out on pen and paper. But I know this will leave an 'Away' gap in whatever they are using to log, and that might look bad on my metrics.

I've found that resting something heavy on one of the modifier keys, e.g. Ctrl, does the trick nicely.


Oh that sounds easy I will try that.


Get a USB mouse jiggler for this situation - have used them in the past with great success.


Not enough anymore. Now you have to jiggle and click. And the clicks can't be random. They have to be on UI elements every so often.


In the MS App store there is an free app called move mouse. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/move-mouse/9nq4ql59xlbf?ac...

non store version: https://github.com/sw3103/movemouse


I installed an app called cliclick https://www.bluem.net/en/projects/cliclick/

Then I wrote a script to move the mouse randomly across the screen.

I'd post the script but I did a clean install. It wasn't very in-depth, though.

  1. Write an endless loop

    2. Generate 2 random numbers 

    3. call cliclick to move the mouse to those coordinates


installing apps is another thing that will be watched and limited. a one line powershell script will do this and would be less noticeable since the system and admins run powershell stuff on the computer everyday anyway.


  Echo "Keep-alive with Scroll Lock..."

  $WShell = New-Object -com "Wscript.Shell"

  while ($true)
  {
    $WShell.sendkeys("{SCROLLLOCK}")
    Start-Sleep -Milliseconds 300
    $WShell.sendkeys("{SCROLLLOCK}")
    Start-Sleep -Seconds 240
  }


oof, Powershell users have a very different definition of “one line” then I do. In bash I'd run

while true; do xdotool key Pause; sleep 240; done


while(1) { (New-Object -c "Wscript.Shell").SendKeys("{Pause}"); sleep -m 240 }

Note that you use xdotool which is external so you are cheating. On Winodws you can do better with AHK which is compared to xdotool like spaceship to bucycle.


That’s over 80 characters long.

Note that comparing AHK to xdotool is like comparing a Titanic-sized roll of Flex Tape to duct tape. I don’t use boats that have taken a lot of damage, so I don't need Titanic-sized Flex Tape.


Thats because you cheated. You also don't know how to count. This is 78 chars and few more can be removed.


I cheated? You edited your comment.

  root:~ # xclip -o
      while(1) { (New-Object -c "Wscript.Shell").SendKeys("{SCROLLLOCK}"); sleep -m 240 }root:~ # xclip -o | wc
        0       9      87
  root:~ # xclip -o | wc -c
  87


Just replaced scrollock to pause to be identical as your case.

You need xWindows to count chars ? Noice :)


> Just replaced scrollock to pause to be identical as your case.

I noticed.

> You need xWindows to count chars ? Noice :)

Tell me, oh Windows master, your superior spaceship ways of counting characters.


You two are hilarious (:


You don't have to install apps, you can run them from directory.


I bring my own Mac, no dice on powershell :)


If you're on Mac, there's a nifty free app for keeping your computer from sleeping called Amphetamine, which can move your mouse for you at a set interval.

It's pretty ridiculous there's no setting in Teams to disable that, and I really hope no one is monitoring those status icons so closely.


There's also Jiggler for Mac, works pretty well though it doesn't fool Apple's own "App Nap" sleep mode for apps, sadly. The Mac stays awake but apps still stutter like crazy when I come back to the computer, they're clearly waking up in some way.


Put your mouse on an analogue clock's face. Use a clock that has an arm for seconds.


I'm not a programmer, but for this purpose I run a PowerShell script to hit the Scroll-Lock key every 5 minutes. It works _perfectly_ (almost too perfectly)

  Echo "Keep-alive with Scroll Lock..."

  $WShell = New-Object -com "Wscript.Shell"

  while ($true)
  {
    $WShell.sendkeys("{SCROLLLOCK}")
    Start-Sleep -Milliseconds 300
    $WShell.sendkeys("{SCROLLLOCK}")
    Start-Sleep -Seconds 240
  }


AHK is better for stuff like this, something like

    #Persistent
    SetTimer, CapsLock, 60000
    return

    CapsLock: Send {CapsLock}
AHK is very small, 0 on resources and this script is visible in tray. You could even enable/disable it via another hotkey or when specific app (PDF reader) is started.


Use this instead otherwise it's quite obvious: Random, Time, 5800, 6400


You can program an Attiny (like a USB Digispark) to send inputs over USB also, can't be detected at all :)


If a company is willing to watch your productivity, it's probably already monitoring your USB ports. That's been done for at least a decade.

At my company, anyone plugging in a USB device sends an alert to IT Security and you get an immediate visit or phone call.


Well it pretends to be a mouse so it shouldn't raise very much concern (how do they expect you to work without one? ;) )


xdotool mousemove_relative


Wait until you realize your company is taking screenshots of your desktop to make sure you actually are working.

I've never been worried as my long breaks are necessary for Programming. I always get the job done. My biggest concerns are economic as I'm high pay and they are often let go.


The screenshots thing came to my mind back in 2010 when I worked at Intel and we were never quite sure how they monitored us. I created my own C# application that with calls on user32.dll. It not only move the mouse and perform clicks, but it's also named as a vendor utility (e.g. LenovoUpdates) that can be minimized to the system tray. I use it to open up various programs (email, browser, code, etc.) and I get to define where it clicks and how long in-between each set of clicks. If you were to open it up, you'd have no idea what the hell it is. The buttons are so generically labeled and the saving/loading features are done using F-keys. Still going strong after 10 years :)


That might have worked in 2010, but when it comes to bot detection it's You vs Big Company.

I recently lost the battle of defeating a bot detector.


Perhaps, but I've yet to see evidence of needing any level of sophistication beyond "move the mouse" just to show you're online and in most companies that's even overkill as 15 minute breaks are typically not an issue. If they are, time to look elsewhere.

I created my program because I had a ruthless boss at the time, but I don't think any spying was ever going on. I use it now out of convenience when I take extended breaks and peace of mind from potential jealous co-workers complaining I'm not online when I should be or something stupid along those lines.


Any details?

What applications and what measures did you try? Feel free to share just links.


Is this proven with Teams?


I'm a CTO and I've disabled MyAnalytics and I'll disable this as well. We have power and we can do better. Let's create better companies and fight back with actions, not words.


I receive the MyAnalytics emails where I work, and this sounded like it was based on the same thing as categories seem similar. Disabling is good, as they really have no value, and are just another distraction to dispose of in email.


Do you use other metrics instead?

My take on this is without metrics it's all subjective which is in many ways worse. Everyone, including your team managers have biases. Do they make decisions based on feelings rather than data?


Yes. We have metrics that are targeted towards business results.


So... No profit for you?


Maybe they would prefer KPIs like "increase sales", "average issue resolution time goes down" instead of fluff like "more @mentions used in chat to increase staff engagement".

This data is a wet dream for middle managers locked out of creating actual value and doomed to micro-manage.


These metrics are not the ones any sensible manager is interested in if they seek profit and well-being for the company


If I'm not profiting, I'll be out of business and these metrics will prove to be valuable.

At this moment, I'm very profitable.


But, but Microsoft in 2020 is not the same Microsoft than 20 years ago.


The Microsoft of the late 90's wouldn't have done something like this.

They did plenty of very different things, but this is something they only have done since the late XP days.


They would have if they had had an internet.

But at that time they were still trying to lock us all into their own version of the internet, MSN the Microsoft Network :)


They had the option for a long time. One of the main selling points of Windows 2000 and ME was native internet support without messing with anything, and people did use that.

But was only near the release of Vista that Windows started to phone home.


True but internet wasn't as ubiquitous then as it is now. Most laptops didn't have WiFi and sometimes not even Ethernet. In many cases they still had a modem.

Also there was much more scrutiny in those days. I think Windows phoning home in those days would have been a huge thing. Similar to the resistance to the TPM which eventually made it in (but in a more watered-down version which didn't have so many privacy and vendor-lock-in concerns as the original proposal).

Of course now all companies are doubling down on all of this. The TPM on steroids now exists as Apple's T2 (and built into M1) chip, Intel's ME, and Windows systems are getting next-gen lock-down crap with Pluton now.

I feel like when we protest for privacy, even a major win is just slowing down the other forces, not stopping them.


Worse! Microsoft 2020 is Stalin dressed up as a puppy dog. 20 years ago Microsoft looked on the outside at least as rotten as they were on the inside.


True that. I think the main thing they've learned over the years is how to craft their public image, which I guess can be said about every corporation out there.


I hate what the workspace has become. It all started with Slack.

Productivity is now equated to busy-ness on corporate chat. You are being judged on how much "chats" and "mentions" you send. If you are offline (because you want to do actual work), people now automatically think that you are not working.


That is a strange, dysfunctional work culture. Consider this a strong indicator that management has no idea what they are doing and you should look for a different company.


There are good managers that don't know what you are doing if you don't work in a pure software house. But they know how to work with that by setting goals, talking with you about it and when you deliver they start to appreciate you and your work even if they don't know anything about the details.

Hard to get those in larger corps though. It seems to always degrades to bullshit, no idea why. There are exceptions but it still seems to be a clear pattern.


With all of the telemetry in Windows 10, how is this a surprise?


This is nothing to do with the telemetry in Windows 10.

It's a very particular complaint about the telemetry in Windows 10 that Microsoft fired their QA employees, feed telemetry into an AI blackbox and no human looks at it and therefore doesn't fix things people want fixing.

This being a different system, on a different product, for a different purpose, used differently, explicitly for humans to look at, is different.


>> This being a different system, on a different product, for a different purpose, used differently, explicitly for humans to look at, is different.

No, it is about Microsoft bringing Microsoft-style ethics and human resource practices to their customers. Same basic methodology, slightly different purpose.

>> Microsoft fired their QA employees, feed telemetry into an AI blackbox and no human looks at it and therefore doesn't fix things people want fixing.

Exactly. Think about how much money Microsoft has saved by firing the QA employees. Think about how much money Microsoft could save their customers by identifying under-performing employees with Microsoft-provided metrics and AI.


I've been curious about some of the work done by my team related to this and data collection. We do mass event log collection and aggregate it all into Splunk. Some of the sources are sysmon event logs, AD data, and firewall logs. This is in Europe. The purpose is security.

This data is all made available through the Splunk interface, and any team member can search through the essentially raw data. On a scout's honor system we don't search up individuals unless given consent by the user. It really doesn't sit well with me, thought, and it hasn't for some time.

One of the problems I see is that the employee laptops - vast majority being non-technical users - are allowed for personal usage. Thus we, by virtue of our selective VPN, send not just work-related data.

Anyone with knowledge of the space that can add some light to this and my worries?


I will do contracting for companies that use MSFT as their platform, but will not join as an employee for them. I've found a Windows laptop is basically the leading indicator of a low-growth culture and a crappy job.


What alternatives would make you actually become an employee?


Being an employee is an investment, so I use the team/market/product model. Tech choice is also an investment that signals an expected return. I'd say a company using enterprise tech is indexed more on optimization problems than explosive growth.

Fine if you want stability, but if you are naturally oriented toward higher risk/reward environments, platform choice is a cultural signal worth asking questions about. When the chips are down, you take what's on offer, but if you are making an active decision from a stable position, you can leverage culture tells to derive the right questions.


I think this is a really great concept. Do you generally evaluate companies on your own before applying, like looking at their website copy, LinkedIn profiles, Glassdoor, any blog posts, etc, or do you ask direct questions about this in interviews? Or is there some other way you suss out this kind of tech culture?


Thanks! Have written about it before here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19280341

Can't say I'm very successful financially, but am almost always satisfied with the quality of the agreements I make.

Also, I like to plug keyvalues.com because the day they won product hunt, one of my early ideas was on it as well, and I watched them go up and it was cool to see them succeed.


I'd argue that if your management is using these tools to assess individual employees' productivity the problem is with management, not the existence of the tools. There are countless ways suboptimal metrics could be explained away.

E.g. in my role I don't work with anyone in my workgroup. All my work is with other teams that have different reporting structures. By definition my intergroup productivity would be reported as zero, and my manager wouldn't be surprised by that. And even if my role did involve working within my group, there are plenty of other measures that would trump any of these 'productivity' metrics.


Personally I haven’t seen much change in the features of office (that I use). Is there a reason for folks not to migrate to LibreOffice? Office 365 barely works nowadays without an internet connection, which is really annoying. Cloud first technologies are ridiculous, IMO. Developers out there: please test your code without and internet connection. Thank you.


> Is there a reason for folks not to migrate to LibreOffice?

Yes, because nobody else is using LibreOffice, and so whenever you send documents to someone else, you come off as very unprofessional due to the good chance your document won't render correctly for everyone using MS.


Sending them as PDFs should solve that.


What about Excel docs?


I’ve had endless problems with Libre/Open Office and Apple Numbers + tracked changes. Since these are critical for contracts, I end up needing it. The Microsoft tools are total shit compared to gsuite on mac. But it’s the only option for reliable tracked changes.


lol, it basically just says people that use all of 360's features are more productive.


Maybe to sell training?


Yeah these things show uselessness when you have a senior engineer that's swamped but shows unproductive.

I've recently felt guilty walking away from my desk to think about a Programming problem. I used to do this all the time but with WFH I imagine there are more screen grabs.


You can do this with Slack as well. There's no sophisticated UI (yet), but the history is there.


Anecdotes:

Company on a downward trend will tend to go all in on employee surveillance and analytics, other companies on an upward trajectory gives their employee much more freedom to do whatever they want.

I have worked at both (and fortunately at the latter right now). It's hard to say which is the cause and which is the result.


I do some work in this space. Not this exact stuff, but adjacent. Are there some employers out there using this to evaluate employees? Maybe, but not smart ones. It won't work. I haven't seen anyone do this, although I suppose I have heard of companies checking # hours connected to a vpn to get a sense for when people are working. Take whatever opinion on that you like.

the reason people are doing this is because leaders of an org don't know how their business works, and they would like to. They're wary of people getting trapped in endless meetings and not actually accomplishing anything. Which makes it extra funny that the reactionary opinion in these threads seem to be "Better make a bunch of fake meetings and emails to look productive!".


> They're wary of people getting trapped in endless meetings

Are you talking about managers here!? If so, that's hilarious.


I noticed that teams has some call center like functionality (people's phone status, call queues, and so on). I kind of expect everything to be tracked to a painful level of detail whenever that gets added, because call centers have been like that for a long time.


I remember many years ago, that Microsoft was introducing features like this into Sharepoint.

I think it made it into Beta 1.

There was a lot of people who did not like the idea and it was not in the release version (at least not advertised if it was in there.

I wonder how long MS has worked on frameworks like these


This is an equivalent of pornhub to micromanagers. Frankly it's good to know who to avoid. If you company uses 365, maybe you should move to China where these things go. Few threads from hear I read people praise m$ as being the good guys now. Such a laugh.


I might be wrong but I imagine this might be either illegal or in a grey area in most of Europe.


Unsure why this was downvoted?

If anyone disagrees on the comment, comment why instead of downvoting?


This appears to be an ORGANIZATION-WIDE score. Not on individual employees.

Look at the documentation here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/admin/product...

It's true that the fact they have this data means they could one day offer it per-employee. But they're not doing that today, probably because they know that the data at that level wouldn't be useful (but would be abuseful). You'd want to measure different metrics to monitor individual productivity vs organizational.


I work at an organization using this as it is upgrading everyone to Microsoft 365. I get a weekly MyAnalytics (think that is the name) email with my weekly engagement score for things like collaboration. It is all meaningless, and the email just gets deleted without being read now. My co-workers are doing the same with theirs.


This might become the work-from-home version of "looking busy doing nothing".


I am late to this discussion. I worked remotely for a large tech company. My team environment became very toxic due to managers fighting, which lead to an environment of extreme paranoia.

I believe that transcripts of my Microsoft Teams calls were being read by my manager. I say this because he was not very clever about it and would often reference, in exact words I used, conversations I had in meetings he was not present in.

It happened enough that I began to pay attention to it.

This was the most frightening and upsetting experience of my entire career. Suspect this is the future for all of us - Every meeting transcripted, recorded and analyzed by AI.

It’s coming.


Ugh, I can just imagine what the product managers for this feature are like.


What do you imagine? I could see competent and respectful people working on this feature.


Maybe so but I would argue that they have a narrow perspective. Granted, I think this isn't their only project and can only guess their motivation, but it is just the typical office (heh) busy work. I call that a bullshit job. Try to engage your people at least.


There are sites that use the GitHub API to collect stats on contributions and projects. The idea of using the available data to gather metrics on orgs and people isn't new.

What might be the most interesting is the idea of productivity scores. It makes so many assumptions that are generalized. I bet many of them aren't documented.

I also would suspect that this will lead to behavior change to improve on "productivity" that may have nothing to do with improving customer businesses but help scores go up.


Yes it's fully impossible to generalized produce any form of productivity score.

Like sometimes someone taking a full day to write a single short paragraph can be the most productive and valuable thing which happens in the recent month. Even if hounded of pages where written, mails read and responded etc.

Such score can only really measure quantity but not quality but in many cases you need quality much more than quantity to be successful.


Does anyone have a good recommendation to replace Msft 365? We moved to them to escape the google sphere but we're not down with this level of tracking capability either.


I've only used the first for personal home use, and the second just a little bit working with a local nonprofit, but I really love Notion and Airtable.


As does Google's GSuite^h^h^h^h^hWorkspace. Employers have the "right" to use surveillance of their employees in the US (this has been litigated several times) and so product suppliers build it into their tools for those enterprises that want to use it.

Since most (maybe all?) employers make you sign a document when you start work that explicitly states they reserve the right to surveil you. As a result this should not come as much of a surprise.


This is a sensationalist heading. No, it's not doing surveillance - it's giving very high-level analytics - no more than most other tools we use today.


No, it isn't just high-level. A Teams admin can filter down to an individual employee and see their usage.


Not shown from the screenshots. Define "usage", please!


Now we only need a virtual whip next to a clippy, so micromanagers won't have to raise from their desk to squeeze more value out of an employee


We need a right to privacy amendment to the US constitution. It should apply to the US government and to companies.

All automated data gathering should be opt in.


And what do you think it would turn into on the way?

No thanks.Right now is not that good, but it could easily become worse.


I once worked on warehouse picking software. I implemented these types of metrics, put it right on the bottom of the screen for each picker and it showed an aggregate of the whole picking team. Before the end of the quarter, productivity soared because the picking teams ended up competing and figuring out how to game the system. It was rather entertaining.


Isn’t there anyone decent working at Microsoft these days?

I mean, multiple teams had to OK this... so many people collectively deciding it’s ok ...


Wait MSFT, how are we (the "Free World") supposed to keep pointing finger to China and its awful social credit system!?


If they try to pin this on you, let them know the material reality of why it's probably not a good idea (these are bad measures) in a very polite email to a few of the leaders - and the resign. Of course, only if you can. But I would definitely leave a company that wanted to use these metrics.


Strikes me that a lot of the feature set could be useless- what is really useful about the metrics? Lot of spaghetti at the wall. However, a company that tries to use the useless will be a bit more demoralizing and ineffective.

I wonder if the real goal somehow is MS collecting data that can tie into Linkedin data.


Well at least they got the name right.


So now Microsoft is selling four products. Once, you pay for the "product". Then they sell YOU three times: to whoever is buying all this W10 and O365 telemetry; then to the government who's paying for a feed; and now to your boss.

4x revenue? Buy Microsoft stock.


Fake it till you make it or something like that...

Manipulating these metrics is pretty easy. I think I do a coffee break and tease the least productive colleague. Seems it is someone working in logistics that only occasionally checks his mails. Wrong profession, buddy.

I though MS had changed...


MS has actually changed, but not in the old fashioned way most people seem to understand, from BAD to GOOD.

Mostly, their business model has changed, and so their incentives about proprietary and free software, the second not being a thread anymore.

But as any big corp, they keep the power to be evil if their interests require so. The same as any corp.


Of course it's also easy to get fired for manipulating such metrics. It's just another boot that steps on a worker.


Obligatory link to the famous "-2000 Lines Of Code" story:

https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Negative_2000_Li...


The wider aspect to this, is that this is occurring as part of the new governance system that is currently revealed. That is technocracy. Everything will be measured, and the system will self-manage and re-allocate resources as it sees fit.


I think this is honestly a worry over nothing: this is very directly a sales tool to encourage spending on MS products.

What you are seeing is basically meaningless stats dressed up in pretty charts. There are enough pretty charts there to ensure that your organization is doing "better than a peer benchmark" on at least a few metrics.

Then the CIO is able to select the best-looking charts into his board presentation and say, "look guys, we are a really great IT organization that is using tools effectively, please give me more budget to go and spend"

And then some of that budget will get back to Microsoft.

I don't think any of the participants in this dance really believe these numbers actually mean anything, and if you suggested tracking individuals at this level I think you would get push back from the managers because it would be a waste of their time.


In the attached video, they specifically mentioned tracking individuals as a good way to find engaged people in the organization.


Hello EMPLOYEE, this is Susan from HR. I hope you are doing well in this trying times! We wanted to check in with you because we have noticed that your Productivity Score is not yet excelling yet per COMPANIES NEXT and EXCEL goals for 2020. While it is totally fine that some of our COMPANY family need some additional time to increase their Productivity Score, we would be overjoyed to assist you in reaching COMPANIES goals.

We would like to invite you to a meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30. Your direct line manager, you and me will be present for this meeting. We would like you to prepare a short presentation (9-10 minutes) on how you plan to improve your Productivity Score so we, as the COMPANY family can reach our goals. I am sure we can find a solution together!

I am looking forward to talking to you tomorrow morning! Have a relaxing evening!

Susan from HR


I’m sorry but how is this surprising or upsetting to anyone. Slack and others have similar metrics. But that’s not the point.

Moreover even if some PM in Microsoft didn’t build this dashboard, the data would most likely be available via API. Look at some of the cloud security products Palo Alto ships. As others have commented, this was most likely built with the intent of showing organizations how effective they are using O365, not perfmon of their employees.

At the end of the day, it’s the onus of the HR teams and leadership of corporations to have reasonable metrics to track performance against, of which we can all probably agree, obscure “productivity” graphs in your Office suite isn’t one of them.

Frankly, if they don’t maintain reasonable methods of performance management, it is an incredibly effective way to limit and lose their talent pool.


Anyone who thinks metrics on "amount of time spent reading and responding to email" is going to tell them which workers are more productive is going to be in for a rude surprise.


Can't wait to see people programming bots to send 10^4 emails per day, and autorefresh pages on loop to increase their "productivity score" and get a raise


Sounds a little dangerous using some of those metrics, I don't think they would necessarily measure productivity well. Some managers certainly would abuse them.


Did anyone expect to use SAAS, and the host _not_ abusing it?


This is yet another fail by M$. So, why do people praise Microsoft so much? Satya Nadella turned it around, really? MS365 surveils you. Windows is full of telemetry, Cortana/Bing ads and the UX is objectively bad as they have design from the 2000s mixed in with design from today. VSCode is a slow Electron app. I have a Surface - it is a flop and can't compare to Apple. The new Xbox has worse performance than PS5. LinkedIn is cancerous and nobody I know enjoys using it. The list goes on and on. I am at a loss to find a reason to use Microsoft products willingly, except GitHub which is still somewhat okay (yet).


Well, yes, the options are available are in any tenant and are equal to what any it admin can enable on win10.

It isn't a secret, or hidden, it's a marketed and properly governed side of microsoft if you read the o365 stuff, deployment, and general digital workplace. And it makes sense.


This is [also] good news for hard working people looking to get noticed.


Apologies for my ignorance. Isn't this already possible in Gsuite?


Surveillance makes it sound like only the managers can see it. Is it just public like the github flamegraphs?

Personally I'd love something like this that only I can see, I've found these sorts of things to be very motivating in the past.


Your regular reminder of the predatory nature of tech giants


Enjoy the world of corporate-owned remote work platforms.


Zoom has a similar thing if I remember correctly


Wonderful! The ubiquitous private police state.


This is not turned on by default in my tenant.


If Windows and Office die, will MS die?


Interesting, though the screenshot is aggregate productivity. Is there functionality that gets down to individuals?



Urgh, yeah, that's terrible. (This screen, for example: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EnlzZBFWEAYsco9?format=jpg&name=...)


I don't know - to me this looks more pointless than evil. Yeah, I don't use @mentions in my emails, so what? Are they going to fire me?

If you really stretch it you could even imagine this being useful: "Hey Anastasia, I've noticed you don't post to Yammer and we think it's useful. Go yammer about something there, it will make us all more productive" or something.


I can see why companies don't trust their employees. Look at what just happened to GoDaddy.


where/how can I disable this?


On the other hand, the same tools email me once a week with a breakdown of what I've done.

It constantly shows that for the previous 28 days I have had zero quiet days: in other words every single day I have used email/chat/etc. outside of my assigned working hours (which is picked up from my in office hours from Outlook).

This is something to shove back to bosses to prove that you are overworked and/or overcommitting.


You don't need a Gestapo like surveillance culture. Messages in chat and emails already have a timestamp attached to them. No need to ask for a chainsaw if all you want is crack an egg open.




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