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Wearable sensors let bosses know if they run a happy office

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Why bother with wearable devices? Employees are interchangeable parts, subdural chips would solve everything and make them subservient 24/7 so rich folks wouldn't have to bother monitoring reports, that's what Watson's for. Welcome to Wells' utopia.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If my employer straps a device like this on me, I will automatically be unhappy.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Wow, big brother. All you have to do is look at all the sourpusses and you know if it is a happy workplace. No extra money involved.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Yeah,, or the employers could just check whether it is smiles they see on their employee faces or frowns.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

What do they need these for? Running happy offices? Hey bosses-- you aren't.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

At my friend's office, the boss has bugged the office to spy on the employees. They are indeed delighted about this. Respect, trust, value and reward your employees and they will be happy to come to work.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"The data is then sent back to a base unit, which calculates the happiness of the group as a whole by comparing the patterns of activity with pre-determined patterns from groups who report being… well, happy."

Complete nonsense.

Pre-determined patterns translates to: the mid-level manager can ignore specifics, Watson doesn't like what it sees.

Calculates the happiness of the group translates to: your happiness is part of our business model, oh, yeah, that's it, we're here to make you happy.

Rife with the potential for abuse at many levels, why not used the old reliable? The Ouija board.

Great piece of tech; 'We're sorry Aki, you don't match Watson's happy factor, we wish you well, but remember your happy stats can never be erased, we are very sorry if this affects your future employment, but Watson says you have a nodding problem."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hopefully these can replace useless middle managers that sit at the end of the desk

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Some more useless technology. By TEACHING me how to be more productive, you cut down how much time I have to spend on a project. Then I won't be wasting time and working lots of overtime, and, therefore, I will be happier. Why do people think technology is the answer to everything? It has actually set us backward.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a solution that has been preferred by the Japanese for generations - throw engineering and technology at the problem and call it a day.

A happy office derives from respect, challenging tasks, given responsibility and good pay. That and perhaps a few plants will work wonders. Oh, and ample time off to recuperate.

There.

Now give me ¥100000 yen/employee and year.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Awesome,

It would be even better if the device automatically injected SOMA into employees if they showed a hint of discontent.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Back home there was a ridiculous amount time and money spent (at a quasi-government organization) spent on work satisfaction surveys and meetings of dubious value. Plus, the day after a large number of staff were "restructured" (fired or work increased) our ever considerate management decided that changing the decor in the meal areas was of paramount importance, in order to keep the plebs happy.

Yeah,, or the employers could just check whether it is smiles they see on their employee faces or frowns.

Where I work now (Japan), the guy in charge looks at our faces. Other places I've worked at here too. Also, if any of us have issues, we go to lunch and talk about it. Neither is perfect, but better than the methods mentioned in my first paragraph.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Hmm.... The sensors are telling us that the staff aren't happy. Let's mandate a few after work meetings to get input from everybody on how to solve this dilemma."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"A happy office derives from respect, challenging tasks, given responsibility and good pay. That and perhaps a few plants will work wonders. Oh, and ample time off to recuperate."

You forgot the nodding, Knox.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This will not end well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So sensors determine where the wearer is and whether he or she is sitting, standing, typing or nodding. But the system, cannot be used to measure an individual’s state of mind?

So how is this actually determining wether you are running a "happy office"? Any company that feels they need to use this technology, already has major issues, starting with the top boss!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The system, which cannot be used to measure an individual’s state of mind,

... but happiness is a state of mind. So the article's final line admits that this has nothing to do with happiness. The best they can get from the data they're recording is "active vs inactive" - and "active" isn't necessarily happy.

Of course "happiness meter" is a lot easier to swallow than "tracking device", which is what it is.

It records activities and movement. It is a spying device.

Oh, and the price tag, 100 000 yen per employee per year? ... You've got to be kidding me. Almost everyone carries a smartphone that monitors movement, and it would be easy to add a bluetooth-based app that records who they stood near while talking. In short, someone could write a free app for this, complete with automatically generated reports.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Big Brother's watching you !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

At 10pm wondering if I'll make the last train am I happy? No, I am not. If that takes a sensor to figure out somebody has been sucking too much sake.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

1984 reinvents itself in 2015...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That workers would voluntarily submit to such a thing, that any union worth that name would allow such a thing, that it is anything less than a tracking device to utilized by HR dept's in their efforts to control, browbeat or beat into submission the slightest deviancy from the status quo....

Huxley's Soma sounds good. I imagine Orwell's verrsion of a control, that it will provide an electric shock the moment personal conversation, smiling or insufficent brownnosing is practiced.

What always galls me in mainstream media is how much the press is a sucker for the techno utopianism. Hitachi (like Google and Apple), if they aren't already, should be paying the media for what is the equivalent of free advertising.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The irony is that this Hitachi have probably produced a nice little earner: creating a demand which hitherto had not been.

No details about the sensor's operating system, or what it is, for instance a camera.

I doubt the technology is new - it seems just like an espionage bugging device from the last century. If so, then Hitachi truly have created a demand which hitherto had not been.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Happiness? Since when has the japanese company mindset ever worried about happiness? More like a new tool for Big Brother disguised as cute new technology.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would refuse to wear such a privacy-invasive device on principle. But aside from that, it would stress me out to no end if I knew that my boss is electronically watching me at every moment.

Moreover, this article says it compares your behavior to a pre-determined paradigm of happiness which came from other groups who reported being happy. So if my bodily expression of happiness or unhappiness is unique, the system would give a false-reading. Those on the margins be damned.

I'm worried that this points to a world in which, when managers want to check the morale of their staff, they pull up a spread-sheet rather than engage in face-to-face interaction.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why should bosses need a sensor? How about using common sense?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And another gadget. Do we really need more of them?

"Years ago" it was interaction and communication.

Welcome to the new "world order".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cue the old adage "I'm happy if you are". Save money and just strap a sensor to the boss.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The nodding part gets me. What if you are at a meeting and look awake but actually really far away. WIll that benodding of approval or recorded as nodding as in sleeping?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

sensors that determine where the wearer is and whether he or she is sitting, standing, typing or nodding

How about shedding half the redundant processes, and those middle managers who demand lots of zero customer-value reports (and crap like this) to justify their existence?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So how is this actually determining wether you are running a "happy office"? Any company that feels they need to use this technology, already has major issues, starting with the top boss!

It's HITACHI (!)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

worst idea EVAR...how Orwellian can you get?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It might help cut the suicide rate when they realize that many people in the cubicles doing 'sabisu zangyou' are contemplating it, or doing something crazy, despite the fake smile. Also, they should watch the 'hate' buttong as they walk around monitoring workers -- that one's likely to light up the most.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Another example of a Japanese company developing a device which will never sell. It's good for the museum. Nice try though. That's what happens when you have too many of the same kind in a company like hitachi. Try having a few foreigners among you for a reality check before developing garbage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Instead of spending 100,000 yen on EACH device, why don't they take some of the workers out for a meal and help boost moral, introduce SENSIBLE targets you know just sensible moral boosting stuff, this will bring a bit of competition into the work place and fun!!, a happy working, fun environment will pay dividends !!! happy work force happy boss!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ha! Only in an Asian country would this be needed. In the West, you better believe you'll know when your employees are unhappy because they'll let you know.

Here in Japan, I don't know if they're as content as a Buddhist monk or on the verge of snapping.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it doesn't tell an individual's state of mind, then it isn't much use. People have a habit of masking their true feelings when part of a group. Somehow I doubt these tags can pick up on the façade, so they'll collect flawed data. As a result, nothing will change when it really needs to. Based upon what was explained about the device, it seems only applicable in offices and similar establishments. What about in retail, where employees are subjected to abuse and hostility on a daily basis? What about in the emergency services, where employees don't have the luxury of being unhappy because people's lives depend on them so much? These are the types of places that need happy employees the most, because a mass walk out of employees would be crippling.

In the West, you better believe you'll know when your employees are unhappy because they'll let you know

The problem is, employers don't care. It doesn't matter how many employees give them what for about their unhappiness, an employer will tell them to suck it up or quit, or else just fire them. With the job market being so unstable at the moment, employees are more likely to bottle up their emotions than risk becoming unemployed. That's true not just in the East, but the West s well. Trust me on that one. I work in a place where none of the employees are happy, but there's nowhere else for us to go at the moment. One of the most common responses we all give when asked how we're doing is "Can't complain. If we did, who'd listen?" Unfortunately, that's a true statement. Management certainly won't listen. They've been receiving complaints for years, and haven't improved circumstances. At all. They only seem to find ways to exacerbate the situation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fox: The problem is, employers don't care. It doesn't matter how many employees give them what for about their unhappiness, an employer will tell them to suck it up or quit, or else just fire them.

True that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Human life will be much happier if they do not own any gadgets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A better way to raise happiness would be to give the Y100000 per year to the workers, instead of wasting it on this rubbish.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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