Ira Basen documentary examines how digital surveillance is changing the game for North American workers

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      This morning,  one of Canada's most imaginative journalists, Ira Basen, explored the growth of workplace surveillance in a documentary on CBC Radio.

      In "Just Watch Me" on the Sunday Edition, he reported on the growing use of sociometric badges, which track how often employees engage in face-to-face interaction and conversational time.

      Basen also spoke to a Harvard Business School professor who explained how employees can be tracked through "digital breadcrumbs".

      These are left open to scrutiny through calendar appointments, social-media posts, emails, mobile phone calls, and even by monitoring keyboard strokes.

      Executives at companies like Prodoscore and Humanyze told Basen that tracking how employees use their time can help them make more informed decisions before serious problems arise. And that reduces their likelihood of losing their jobs in the future.

      Moreover, Humanyze insisted that its digital badges ensure that employee privacy is protected because no names are attached to the information conveyed to managers.

      However, Basen also reported on some serious downsides to this "Digital Taylorism".

      They include the likelihood that employees being monitored will be less likely to take risks and will focus solely on meeting their targets.

      The term Digital Taylorism refers to Frederick Winslow Taylor, a pioneer in the business-efficiency movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

      You can listen to Basen's 35-minute documentary on the Sunday Edition website.