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May 30th 2015, by JanJaap Boogaard

Ownership and trust

A Colliers experiment participant

“Ever since I’ve been wearing the Fitbit, people ask me, ‘what’s that tracking device on your wrist?’ It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I enjoy telling others about the experiment. Everyone seems very interested and willing to share their opinions. A couple of questions come up again and again: ‘What about privacy?’ or ‘Does your boss track your every move?’

I believe the essence of the Quantified Workplace is threefold:

  • Most importantly for me, the Quantified Workplace gives me an individual understanding of the parameters of exercise, wellbeing, stress and productivity, and the relationship between these factors. This enables me to discover for myself how the various parameters are linked, making it possible for me to find my own optimal balance.
  • In the future I will be able to share my personal data with an independent third party. They can then monitor my parameters and help me to interpret the readings. I like the idea that my personal data will be analysed by a third party. This way everyone involved can avoid conflicts of interest, and my privacy will be assured. Of course I can decide for myself whether I want to share my data with a third party, or with my supervisor, or not at all.
  • I also think it’s really interesting that data from throughout the organization can be analysed, resulting in an average for all employees. It’s important that only average values are made available. No data can be traced back to individuals. Of course I know my own readings, and I can compare them to the organization’s average. I also think this information can be very valuable for management and for setting HR strategy.

Getting back to the questions ‘What about privacy?’ and ‘Does your boss track your every move?’: I have full ownership of my data. I decide which data I share, and which data is for my eyes only. If I feel that sharing certain data will infringe on my privacy, then I simply don’t share it. For example: I measure my sleep patterns, but I don’t share the data I collect.

Regarding the second question, I don’t think my boss is tracking me. After all, I own my data, analysis is conducted by a third party and organizational data is anonymized. I do, however, feel that I am tracking my every move. It’s really quite addictive to check your data all the time, to look for correlations and to identify room for improvement. I see this as being very positive. It’s a trigger for me to maximize my productivity.

Despite the fact that I’m not worried about privacy and don’t feel like my boss is spying on me, I do feel that a certain level of trust is a vital precondition for encouraging people to collect and share their personal data.

Moreover, I believe that trust is not only vital in this context, but that it is also a basic requirement for good performance in the work environment in general.”