Microsoft Makes Changes To Productivity Score Tool After Privacy Backlash


 Microsoft on Tuesday said employers will no longer have access to data on individual employees through its Productivity Score tool, after privacy experts criticized the feature as invasive workplace monitoring software.  

Key Facts

Launched earlier this month, Productivity Score let companies with a Microsoft 365 business subscription see how individual employees were using Microsoft products, allowing bosses to see how many hours workers spent on Microsoft Teams or the number of times their camera was on in meetings in the last month, for example.

After widespread criticism, Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said in a blog post the company will remove individual employee monitoring altogether, saying “no one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365.” 

Instead, metrics on how often employees are using Microsoft products will be aggregated over a period of 28 days for the entire company. 

Spataro added that the user interface will be modified “to make it clearer that Productivity Score is a measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”

Crucial Quote

“In response to feedback over the last week, we’re removing that feature entirely. Going forward, the communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility measures in Productivity Score will only aggregate data at the organization level—providing a clear measure of organization-level adoption of key features,” Spataro said.

Key Background

Microsoft billed Productivity Score as a way to drive “digital transformation,” diagnose specific technical problems or identify people having trouble with Microsoft applications. But privacy advocates took issue with the fact that, once the tool was enabled, individual-level monitoring was on by default. Allowing managers to have a dashboard with stats on workers would only normalize workplace surveillance, they argued, which is becoming an increasingly common way to keep tabs on remote workers during the pandemic.

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