Uh-oh. It May be Time for Me to Stop Using the Company Laptop.

The Wall Street Journal recently had a story about how more and more companies are using software to monitor its workers’ habits.

ActivTrak software can track “every little thing that happens on the computer from the time it’s fired up.”.

If you’re on ESPN for five minutes it knows.

It knows how much time you spend on Facebook. On Twitter. On YouTube.

The reason companies would install such software is to increase worker productivity.

For one company that installed ActiTrak, baseline productivity levels—measured as the amount of time employees spend on websites and apps classified as “productive”—have risen from about 60% to north of 85%. The company rarely uses the tool to discipline workers. Instead, it lets managers spot patterns and praise employees who go above and beyond by detecting, for example, workers who take their laptops home and work after hours. It also helps identify good candidates for promotion and learn more about how workloads tend to ebb and flow during the day.

Another company that installed the software discovered that employees typically worked just three hours out of each eight-hour day. Since employees became aware their activities were being tracked statistics have dramatically improved.  To encourage productivity, employees can log on to see their own productivity levels as well as that of their coworkers. The company has also set up alarms that pop up notices when workers go to sites like YouTube. In one of the company’s offices, screens display the names of the top 10 performers based on ActivTrak metrics. Not everybody was a fan of the new tracking system; seven out of about 150 quit.

I’d be scared and embarrassed to see how I spend some of my days.

My boss would probably wonder, “What is Borden doing at wordpress.com/stats? What kind of site is that? He’s on there every two minutes. How does he get any work done?”

That’s why I enjoy teaching; it gets me away from that stuff and enables me to be totally engaged in what I am paid to do.

But even then, I manage to sneak in the occasional YouTube video (but only when it’s “related” to what I’m talking about that day. Like this one, one of my all-time favorite videos to show when I talk about how advertising can play with our emotions.

In the meantime, when I am back in my office, I might just open Excel on my company laptop and then keep it open all day. Before long, I’ll be the most productive guy in the department (with nothing to show for such productivity). And if I really need to check ESPN or my blog stats, I can always use my WiFi disconnected iPhone.

*image from bestcellphonespyapps.com

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