back to article Hacks rebel after bosses secretly install motion sensors under desks

Staff at one of Britain's oldest national newspapers got a shock on Monday morning when they found monitoring sensors installed under their desks. The boxes, sold by OccupEye as a way to monitor how long staff are at their desks without relying "on coffee cups and coats on chairs," were installed in the offices of The Daily …

  1. ZSn

    Moral police

    Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint? If he was on his own time and got back to work on time what business is it of theirs? I'm sure his wife would be interested but the employer should be agnostic to this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moral police

      I'm sure his wife would be interested but the employer should be agnostic to this.

      The issue is that this may also impact the employer's reputation because some customers don't quite have such a liberal view either. This is why some companies have extra clauses in their contracts that allow them to boot you if you behave in such a manner that you bring the company into disrepute.

      The issue here is not the fact itself, though, but the manner in which it was discovered. Unless the staffer has agreed to location surveillance like, for instance, delivery drivers usually have to, the company has engaged in illegal activity that in some countries may make them even get into trouble with law enforcement.

      The main article is another example. Such monitoring should not exist, although I now suggest to have such sensors installed under HR desks, with a direct feed to a console which is accessible to everyone else in the building. I find that the arguments for surveillance tend to evaporate surprisingly quickly when those who come up with such ideas are the first to suffer the consequences.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Henry Ford School of Management

        The sensor boxes... were installed in the offices of The Daily Telegraph. Staff weren't told anything about the installation.... These are all totally legal, so long as employees are informed.

        So, besides letting the staff know that management don't trust them one bit, the implementation was probably not run by their legal department. Also, isn't keeping track of staff activity and productivity a management function? I wonder at what point management/HR realize that they have automated themselves out of a job.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Henry Ford School of Management

          They won't automate themselves out. They'll be watching the robots. I do wonder how fast management would head to the exit of they were being watched and monitored?

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Henry Ford School of Management

          The Daily Telegraph is owned by the Barclay Brothers. So I guess they all know about management attitudes already, but with the lack of jobs in paid journalism nowadays they are between a Channel Island rock and a hard place.

      2. JohnG Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        "... some customers don't quite have such a liberal view either. This is why some companies have extra clauses in their contracts that allow them to boot you if you behave in such a manner that you bring the company into disrepute."

        Yes, but the employer cannot just make up rules on the fly and/or apply them retroactively.

        1. swm Bronze badge

          Re: Moral police

          Actually (in New York State) they can fire you for arbitrary reasons provided it is not one of a set of protected classes (race, religion, etc.). It's called "employment at will" so they can fire you for not liking you but not for your skin color.

    2. Oengus Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Moral police

      Did anyone think that maybe he was going to meet his wife for lunch?

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        Or his mom?

        Signed,

        Nelson Muntz

      2. kmac499

        Re: Moral police

        Just remembered the late and great Professor Richard Feynman used to repare to "Dance Bars" on occasions.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Moral police

          "Just remembered the late and great Professor Richard Feynman used to repare to "Dance Bars" on occasions."

          I have also remembered that Feynman wrote at one point about a Las Vegas dancer who was the daughter of a university dean. She wasn't rebelling, it was just that she was a good dancer, wanted to get experience, and it was the only place she could get paid work.

          Imagine the possibilities.

          "Dean, we have evidence that during your vacation you were seen in Vegas watching a floor show."

          "Yes, my daughter wanted me to come and see her working".

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Moral police

        @Oengus:

        You have a brain sir, clearly unlike the HR folks in question.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moral police

        "maybe he was going to meet his wife for lunch?"

        At least that is what I tell my mistress.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Moral police

      Against the law no - but if your job is some kind of sensitive ones, it may make some alarm bells ring. There are risks you can be blackmailed (or act against the company for the need of money) if you put yourself is some bad or silly position.

      Would you trust your broker if you knew it spends a lot of time in strip clubs (and maybe fancies a stripper) or betting agencies? Or the risk your money can end not in a way good for you could look too high? Sure, it doesn't happen with a 100% probabilty, and people who look perfectly OK may disappear with your money too - yet who would you trust?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moral police

        "..., it may make some alarm bells ring. There are risks..."

        You also shouldn't employ people from poorer neighbourhoods. They are more likely to see social disturbance which could see them be late for work or have to take days off, also there are more bookmakers in poorer areas, a higher risk of loan sharks operating and more chance of blackmail. You should only employ people who are from nice areas and talk with an accent that suggests their breeding - as they are the only trustworthy ones.

        ...or you could just choose to trust people until they prove you wrong (whether that involves someone stealing £100 from the company accounts to bet on a horse or someone who spends £10billion gambling the economy on risky mortgage deals)

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Moral police

          Do you believe companies don't take that into account also when hiring people? Do you believe someone who has relatives in jail has the same chances of getting a job in a bank, or other senstive jobs?

          Anyway I was talking about risky behaviours - which may happen wherever you come from. I won't trust any well-bred nice people if I knew they have dangerous behaviours which may lead them to act badly. We aren't talking about possible risky behaviours due to origin, we are talking about *known*, documented, risky behaviours. Sure, you're free to live your life as you like, just you must be prepared to face the consequences of your actions, because other are also responsible of theirs.

          Background checks are perfomed for many jobs - sometimes you can't really afford to wait for someone to prove you wrong, because it would be too late - and it may also mean the end of your business. When you're responsbile for a business and many people working for it, you don't want a single moron destroy it all.

          I would like to know how many who are against this kind of "discriminations" are ready to put their money, properties or close people in the hands of those people... would you hire a baby sitter who drinks heavily? Hire a cashier with betting issues?

          It's always too easy to be liberal with someone else money and risks...

          1. bep

            Re: Moral police

            It might surprise you to know that you can get a job in correctional services even though you have a relative in prison, never mind a job in a bank. Your list of 'risks' is bottomless and pointless. What matters is the person's ability to do the job and performance once they get it. Nothing else matters and nothing else is any of your business.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Moral police

              @bep

              While I agree with you for most jobs there absolutely are roles where the employer will look into your past, convictions, financial history, personal relationships etc.

              As a previous poster said, to make sure that you cannot easily be "persuaded" do so something that you wouldnt normally do - example, if you are giving an employee access to large amounts of sensitive and valuable data that others would like to get hold of and a financial check shows that the employee has massive debt and is struggling to pay the bills - that person may be completely trustworthy but if some third party offered to pay off their debt in exchange for some data - how long would their loyalty last?

              I agree with your point that most employers have no business knowing these things, but some do.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Moral police @LDS

            Background checks are performed for many jobs - sometimes you can't really afford to wait for someone to prove you wrong, because it would be too late - and it may also mean the end of your business. When you're responsible for a business and many people working for it, you don't want a single moron destroy it all.

            I've known a few cases, one where the business was destroyed. The person passed clearances etc when she started. She had the documents to say she was good. The documents had been prepared properly, with proper legal checks by properly qualified people. She saw the money, saw her chance, and took the money.

            I would like to know how many who are against this kind of "discriminations" are ready to put their money, properties or close people in the hands of those people... would you hire a baby sitter who drinks heavily? Hire a cashier with betting issues?

            Yes and yes. Known quantities can be accounted for and dealt with. I have personally known someone who passed some very high-level clearances, and built a hell of a lot of trust before he started wanting more money than he was being paid (which was an almost obscene amount given the nature of the work - people will pay a ton for someone with good clearances when even the cleaner almost needs "top secret" clearance levels!). I'd hire him now - I know what he's done, I know what to look for, and I know to make damn sure he can't get his hands on the company money because he probably knows more tricks than I do.

            A heavy drinker could watch my kids with safeguards in place. The sweet neighbours teenager who "just wants a bit of extra holiday cash" may turn out to not be so sweet, and I wouldn't want my kids being the first to discover that.

            Known quantities. Safeguards.

          3. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Moral police

            Since when is visiting a strip-club a risky behaviour?

            It's a time-honoured tradition for special events like bucks and hens parties.

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        Would you trust your broker

        Are you nuts? Nobody trusts their damn broker, where do you imagine that he/she gets the money for the lavish location, the chauffeur driven Bentley, the huge mansion and the many priapism-inducing interns in the office?? Not from the tax-payers, remember, they had to blow your money first to get bailed out!

        I trust my broker to look after my money about in about the same way as I believe that my flat-coated retriever will protect a Sunday roast left within it's reach, that is for about as long as I can keep an eye cocked in her direction. If I blink, it's OVER.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Moral police - Would you trust your broker

          To quote the famous Wall Street saying, "Where are the customers' yachts?"

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        Would you trust your broker if you knew it spends a lot of time in strip clubs (and maybe fancies a stripper)

        No more or less than I'd trust my broker in the absence of such information.

      4. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        Since when is undertaking a completely legal activity a security risk with respect to blackmail? Some of my best friends have been or are currently strippers.

        I could understand if he went to a cock-fight (not the type you'd find at a legal strip club ;) ) or a crack-house.

      5. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        I wouldn't care if someone was a serial killer in their off-hours. When it comes to work, all I care about is if they perform their work duties skillfully and honestly.

        Just because someone lies/cheats in their personal lives does not mean they will lie/cheat in their professional lives. The two are separate.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Moral police

      but the employer should be agnostic to this.

      Exactly. If he'd parked a van with the company name on the side in the strip club lot then the company might have had a case for some disciplinary action, but firing him was excessive. As for telling his wife, that manager should be in serious legal trouble.

    5. Seajay#

      Re: Moral police

      "Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint?"

      No, which is why the employer lost the case. All is well with the law.

    6. kmac499

      Re: Moral police

      I would have loved it if the wife replied,

      "I work there; we we're having lunch together."

      1. dajames Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Moral police

        I would have loved it if the wife replied,

        "I work there; we we're having lunch together."

        I'd love it even more if she knew the difference between "were" and "we're".

        1. Marshalltown

          Re: Moral police

          Well, she would be working in a strip club, and while I've known a couple of co-eds who paid for college working in one, most don't need to actually know the difference between "were" and "we're."

    7. rototype

      Re: Moral police

      Dependant on the state in the US that this occurred in they seem to think that anything other than Church or sports bar is unacceptable, and generally have all the subtlety of a howitzer (as well as about the same IQ).

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Keir Snelling

          Re: Moral police @rototype @Dan Paul

          Always a bit of a risk when you call someone out over an inaccuracy and then call them a moron.

          Opens you up to all manner of opprobrium should you have got the facts wrong yourself. As you did here....

          The employee fired for visiting the strip club was in the US. That was what Rototype was referring to.

          I'll not call you a moron though. Not even in CAPS.

        2. JayB

          Re: Moral police @rototype

          "Are you completely daft? What kind of a complete idiot makes ridiculous unfounded accusations and doesn't even bother to read the FIRST LINE IN THE ARTICLE???"

          Umm, before calling someone a moron, might it be a good idea to make sure you're not being one?

          Rototype was referring, as was everyone else, to the case of the dude who got fired for lunching in a Strip Joint. An incident that occurred in California, clue being "a Californian legal practice".

          It would be courteous to apologise about now.

          On the topic of the actual article, completely out of order. The moment some genius decides not to tell anyone about the monitoring, that's when all excuses become BS and the whole thing turns into creepy assed spying!

      2. Natalie Gritpants

        Re: Moral police

        I though sports bar was a euphemism for strip club.

    8. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Moral police - Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint?

      The other IT angle in this is that Richard Feynman famously used to spend a lot of time in strip clubs. He didn't drink, he liked to talk to women and he liked to draw them. He was totally unashamed of this activity, his last (English) wife knew all about it, and he even appeared in court to defend a strip club owner, by pointing out just how many important and respectable people patronised the joint.

      I would hope the wife responded to the employer somewhat on the lines of "it's not where he has his lunch that bothers me", but with the strange US mixture of extreme licence on the one hand and Calvinist Prodnosing on the other, nothing would surprise me.

      I'm tempted to name the US corporation that celebrated gaining a large government military contract by taking the entire senior staff to spend the weekend in a Thai brothel, but it would probably be more interesting to have a list of the companies that don't do things like that - likely to be a short one.

      1. The Real Tony Smith

        Re: Moral police - Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint?

        "it's not where he has his lunch that bothers me"

        ROTFLMAO!

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moral police

      Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint?

      Nope. It doesn't even matter what you eat.

      (I'll go and hide now)

      1. eldakka Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Moral police

        "Nope. It doesn't even matter what you eat."

        Or who.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moral police

      I know of people who were fired for being caught in a burlesque bar during a Las Vegas field conference. Not even a strip joint.

      Corporations can be very very puritanical about such things.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Moral police

        Moral police & telegraph

        WTF are you smoking ???? I need some of that for the mother in law!!!!!

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Moral police - Corporations can be very very puritanical about such things.

        No, they can't. Individual people in corporations may be, but whatever US law says (or the Blessed Mitt Romney) corporations are not people and they have no morality. Put the blame for stupidity where it lies; stupid people.

        I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't visit strip clubs and I don't take any nonprescription drugs stronger than caffeine, and not much of that. But I do have enough sense to know that there are people who do all of those things and yet are safe around money, and I know that there are puritanical people who are capable of embezzling a load of cash and passing it along to the needy because God told them to. When it comes to deciding if someone is a safe pair of hands, Experian and employment history are better guides than most.

      3. Marshalltown

        Re: Moral police

        You are left to wonder about the fate of whoever "caught" them.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moral police

      I'd bet good money the 'manager' was some feminist HR rag who couldn't bear the thought of a man relaxing or enjoying any sort of pleasure, even if it was on his own time and dime.

    12. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Moral police

      Is it against the law to have your lunch in a strip joint? If he was on his own time and got back to work on time what business is it of theirs?

      Had a mate here in NZ who got drunk and did something really stupid (bastard's lucky I still call him "mate" even but anyway...) He wound up on GPS bracelet and bail conditions saying he couldn't be in certain places.

      One afternoon he gets a call from his parole officer, asking why he's at a certain bar. He was told he'd be arrested and recalled to prison. He asks that the cops be sent to his home since that's where he is anyway, not at the bar. PO does so, and the cops call her to confirm that yes, the guy is at his hom. The PO says the GPS claims he's at a bar some 5km away from his home.

      That was last year. GPS is generally pretty accurate these days, but I wouldn't recommend using data from it to convict someone without other evidence. Hell, I often drive on one road while the GPS puts me on a parallel road a (narrow) block away.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Moral police

        "Hell, I often drive on one road while the GPS puts me on a parallel road a (narrow) block away."

        I doubt the GPS puts you there. The Satnav interpreting the GPS location badly interprets the GPS-supplied co-ordinates and it puts you there.

        If the GPS co-ordinates put you 1 meter away from where you actually are, and that 1-meter error puts you in a place you couldn't be (car inside a building for example), the logic in the satnav may be bad and rather than putting you on the correct road, increases that error and puts you an an adjacent road that is 20 meters away. Thats a satnav code logic error, not a GPS error.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Moral police

          I doubt the GPS puts you there.

          By "GPS" I do mean the in car unit - like most people I know (not necessarily most people, just most people I know)

          A cheap one that surprisingly does better at picking up the satellite signal than any Garmin and most Tomtom's I've seen.. (But they have the huge advantage in getting updated maps!)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hot spot...

    they MAY find an "unusually" hot spot under my desk (if I had one![hot spot and/or desk - get your mind out of the gutter])

    To each his/her own to interper ....

    [El Reg : (body) - does this mean that you also use "OccupEye" to see if I'm here to post this message?!]

  3. notowenwilson

    Seriously? If your worth to a company can be measured by how long you are at your desk for or how long you spend on youtube, you must be doing a pretty basic job... the sort that robots will be doing soon.

    How about this for an alternative; you are measured by the quality and quantity of your work. If it is acceptable, then who cares if you're at your desk or having lunch at a strip club. If it's not then you need to explain yourself and only at that point do they start talking about installing tracking collars to find out if you're actually slacking off.

    I don't measure my car's fuel consumption by looking at my bank balance even though the two are related. It's pointless trying to measure performance based on attendance.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      How about this for an alternative; you are measured by the quality and quantity of your work

      But that would involve your manager having to know and understand your job, plus have some reliable way to measure the quality of your work. Oh - and for said manager to not spend time sycophantically sucking up to the bosses above.

      I think this just shows that the managers aren't actually managing and THEY should be fired.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Yes seriously, if used properly

      If you are not getting your arse off your chair at least once in an hour you are a candidate for any or all of the following - heart disease, back problems and stomach/intestinal problems (both lack of motion and you are most likely snacking at your desk). On top of that, if you want to produce really high quality code, art, writing, etc taking a short break once in a while, putting that keyboard down and thinking is a good idea. If you do not, you produce "binge code" - just ask those of us who have debugged it.

      If your company _REALLY_ values you, it should use these stats and have in first instance the health and safety guy have a chat with you. In some instances, where "binge work" is observed and has to be cleaned up by other people after you there is nothing wrong to use these for enforcement too.

      In the days when I ran IT/Build and DevQA in an SME, I used to get the same info out of surveys + machine activity reports DIY-ed using perl and fed off the mouse + kbd interrupt stats + X idle. Anyone who was glued to his desk ended up having a conversation with one of the people who did the H&S rota.

      I would have shelled for this gadget without a second thought if it was available. Exactly because we tried to value our developers (at least until the VCs came in and told us to fire half of them and hire an Indian contractor).

      So instrumenting a desk like this has its uses and tweaking AC, heat, light, etc are actually secondary - the primary is workforce health.

      If the company used those for "hours enforcement" and/or "hot-desk occupancy stats" instead, I agree - that is someone being an idiot. Plenty of those in management around this part of the world unfortunately. Their slave trading Georgian ancestors would have been proud.

      1. notowenwilson

        Re: Yes seriously, if used properly

        The OH&S side of it is indeed a very valid point and one well made. Not sure why the downvotes.

        The likelihood of this sort of thing being able to be confined to OH&S is, of course, vanishingly slim. as soon as you create that sort of data someone in management is going to use it for purposes other than originally intended. There's a great story of the second time the US rolled into Iraq. They had 'blue force trackers' on everyone so that they could avoid friendly fire. Sounds great until the guys really high up started using it to tell the guys at the lowest level what to do. One general in particular was watching the map and called up a platoon commander to tell him that he wasn't moving fast enough (skipped about 4 levels of command structure to do so). The platoon commander, clearly panting over the radio told him he was moving as fast as possible. Turns out the general had his map set to the wrong scale. Oops.

        Another general in Afghan spent an afternoon trying to get their drone and attack pilots to take out a 4wd with bad guys in it that he was watching on the drone feed. Never mind that they were miles away from the large scale firefight (involving friendly casualties no less) that he was actually supposed to be focused on. Sometimes it's best not to generate the data until your organisational culture is ready to handle it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes seriously, if used properly

        If you are not getting your arse off your chair at least once in an hour you are a candidate for any or all of the following - heart disease, back problems and stomach/intestinal problems (both lack of motion and you are most likely snacking at your desk).

        Even the best of motives do not justify doing this without discussion, knowledge and permission. There are laws for this for a reason - they are not there to explicitly ban such ideas, but to ensure the discussion is had and permission is sought. If your devs are OK with the idea, well done, and good on you to care. But if one prefers to stick to his pizza devouring, sugar drinking and motion devoid existence, that person is entitled to have his say too.

        In addition, quite a lot of evil has been committed "for our own good" and frankly, I don't want part of that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Telegraph not unique

      "Seriously? If your worth to a company can be measured by how long you are at your desk for or how long you spend on youtube, you must be doing a pretty basic job... the sort that robots will be doing soon.

      How about this for an alternative; you are measured by the quality and quantity of your work. If it is acceptable, then who cares if you're at your desk or having lunch at a strip club. If it's not then you need to explain yourself and only at that point do they start talking about installing tracking collars to find out if you're actually slacking off."

      Yes you are right BUT companies still feel they want to monitor and check what you are doing. I worked for a large IT company <cough>IBM</cough> with a salary that I was very comfortable with, not quite into 50% tax but pretty good. We still had senior management in Europe who wanted to check what you were doing every step of the way, it got to the point where I was doing pre-meetings on pre-meetings to prepare for the real meeting, which meant I spent 60-70% of my time doing nothing but telling people what I was trying to do with the diminishing 30% of my time. We would then get a kicking as we were weren't selling or delivering enough.

      I had no problems with sensible reporting, but not this level. The company was looking for voluntary redundancy and I was happy to leave. Its a shame as the company was good, we simply couldn't change the internal ways of working quickly enough. Oh well, c'est la vie.

      This over burden of management, focussing on what highly paid people are doing on a minute by minute basis, is a sign of a company with a problem and of too many managers who are more internally directed rather than looking externally and selling or delivering stuff that adds value to the bottom line. I note in passing that the Telegraph has been struggling for some years now to be relevant and to keep readers. The owners have some amusing ways of working, see Private Eye for far more information. In fact I am looking forward to Private Eyes reporting of this ;)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Telegraph not unique

        "too many managers who are more internally directed rather than looking externally and selling or delivering stuff that adds value to the bottom line"

        too many managers

        FTFY

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Telegraph not unique

        "This over burden of management, focussing on what highly paid people are doing on a minute by minute basis, is a sign of a company with a problem and of too many managers who are more internally directed"

        It is a sign of a company which has grown too large. There is a size of company which is too small (where one person has to do more than one job and is not optimum at any of them) but there are sizes of companies which are too large, where turf wars, duplication and over long chains of communication mean that costs rise faster than output.

        And wasn't that exactly what happened to IBM?

    4. fajensen Silver badge
      Coat

      It's pointless trying to measure performance based on attendance.

      Nope, it's useful:

      Stage 1: If someone wants metrics, then we give them the metrics that are available. If we can't measure performance - well, we could, but it would be hard to make a link between the performance of a journalist to the sales of newspapers, therefore, it is not useful for management purposes.

      Stage 2: Create Incentives, that is Bonuses related to the metrics that we do have.

      Stage 3: Do whatever it takes to get the numbers - if it means journalists watching cat-videos to keep the Bum-on-Seal goal up, then, that is the goal of the organisation.

      Stage 4: Ka-Chinngg

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        " would be hard to make a link between the performance of a journalist to the sales of newspapers"

        It's actually quite easy. Easier than linking, say, advertising. But most newspaper proprietors don't want to delve too deeply, they want the brand and the cudos. Some also want to influence but none cares completely about profit or circulation.

  4. thomas k

    re: that California case

    California has very strict laws regarding what a former employer can tell someone calling to verify employment - basically you can say "Yes, so-and-so did work here" and ... that's pretty much it.

    To call the guy's wife was a really dick move, which I don't think that would fly in any state.

  5. JP 6
    FAIL

    What the hack...

    If the device is indeed thermal activated, you could just put a MAC under your desk and that should keep the area warm until you get back. I wouldn't leave a MAC under the desk too long. Might get too warm.

    For motion just tie a helium balloon to the MAC. Every little breeze will make it move.

    If you use PCs at work, yeah, remove the batteries is the easier option.

    1. Mr Dogshit
      WTF?

      Re: What the hack...

      What MAC?

      A Big Mac? A MAC address?

      1. Velv Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What the hack...

        Judging by the reference to a strip club attendee, I'm guessing it was a Dirty Mac.

        Mine's already selected...

      2. The Real Tony Smith

        Re: What the hack...

        And what about some seaweed?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Close quarters

    "In the light of feedback we have received from staff it has been decided to withdraw the under-desk sensors immediately."

    We're all becoming quite inured to humiliating surveillance, but please, not square in the crotch okay?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Close quarters

      We're all becoming quite inured to humiliating surveillance

      Speak for yourself. I have not accepted it in the past, refuse to accept it now and will not accept it in the future. Anyone who would try to pull a fast one like that will not face "a protest", they will face a lawsuit.

      I'm easy like that - I have found that waiting out protests is usually part of the planning so I no longer bother with that step. In my opinion, if you don't consult people beforehand you have removed any assumption that a discussion afterwards would make a difference either so being Mr Nice Guy is utterly pointless.

      1. Turtle

        Re: Close quarters

        "if you don't consult people beforehand you have removed any assumption that a discussion afterwards would make a difference"

        Although certainly not always true, that's actually a very insightful observation. (Additionally, it is almost always easier to forestall a planned action or prevent it from being implemented than it is to have that decision rescinded after it's been implemented, as "backing down" usually involves a humiliating loss of face.)

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Trust?

    There seems to be a severe lack of trust by management of the staff when this going on. The PHBs should but never look in the mirror at the problem because they the cause.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy invasion?

    I see Miss Jones in Accounts must be ovulating again...

    And Henderson from IT seems to adjust himself quite a bit...

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Privacy invasion?

      How did you know my name is Henderson? How do you know I work in IT? How do you know I'm adjusting....

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Management no longer manage

    They run reports instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Management no longer manage

      Management should never manage - you manage equipment. Good management leads, but that takes a degree of personal courage and a corporate culture that discourages the idiocy that we presently call "management" which is idiocy with bells on. No wonder companies become inefficient when they grow.

  10. Turtle

    Medical Experiments & Temp Workers.

    "the management said the boxes were there to monitor building heating systems and agreed to remove them.;'

    Ah! Gonna use the employees for medical experiments! The management wants to see how well the hirelings fulfill their duties in spite of potentially lethal environmental conditions and, secondarily, how long they remain conscious and capable of physical movement, when the temperature is comparable to Death Valley.

    "While beloved of accountants, hot desks are usually very unpopular with staff, who face the breakup of team structures and an extra layer of uncertainty when coming in to work in the morning."

    Apparently they want to make their long-term employees feel like temp help. That's how I'd run a business too... if I wanted it to fail.

  11. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Becoming all too common...

    I'm the only IT guy doing support (pc, network, telephones) in a building (remote site, 200 miles or so from the headquarters) that is a call center of several hundred people. They've been basing performance on the call center staff on such things as attendance right down to the minute through login logs on the phones and the PC's.

    Some lower manager got the idea that the IT staff (me) worked for them and tried things... like calling my boss (in headquarters) that I wasn't at my desk or was wandering around the building. It finally took some doing to teach the management here that a) I'm not the HellDesk... call them and I'll follow up if needed, b) I don't work for them, I work for the company c) If I'm not at my desk in the lab/shop, guess what.. I'm out working on a problem.

    So far, IT service staff and some others have been immune to tracking. However, I've noticed that they've started watching the Marketing and Sales people closer... It's getting close to the time for me to fully retire (I'm currently semi-retired and work part-time) and I hope I can get out before they decide to play their stupid games with my job.

    I'm also aware the many of the bigger companies in my area are doing this also. Must be some sort of fad or a sales blitz happened recently by one of these tracking companies.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Becoming all too common...

      They've been basing performance on the call center staff on such things as attendance right down to the minute through login logs on the phones and the PC's.

      A supplied took me to a customer site for a demo of their contact centre software. The local manager told me that the software allowed them to log how long staff spent, amongst other things, on toilet breaks. Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Becoming all too common...

        Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!

        Pre-empt the questioning by delivering a sample to HR on each occasion.

        1. kmac499

          Re: Becoming all too common...

          Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!

          No need if HR are dumb enough to give you a badge with a microphone on it. Oh the fun you could have with a commentary on the early morning post Curry Night Crap of the day.

      2. Archie Woodnuts

        Re: Becoming all too common...

        Been there, done that. I used to work in a call centre for a credit card company when I was at college - let's call them Crapital One - and each week/month (can't recall now) you would have your little meeting regarding your stats, your soft sales, attendance and so on.

        Well, one week I was pulled up because on one particular day I'd spent 5 minutes over my allotted "15 minutes personal time" and my manager, an unctuous little tit called Adam, demanded to know why because he wasn't impressed, just not good enough, etc, etc.

        "I was having a massive shit. Is that allowed or should I do it at my desk?"

        Needless to say, I left not longer after that but continue to try and treat the poor sods in call centres as nicely as I can because I imagine that they have to deal with Adams and their faecal statistics , too.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: Becoming all too common...

          I heard a story about a manager I had worked with, from someone who had worked with him at a previous job. A man under his supervision came out of the gents to find the manager there with stopwatch in hand. He said "Next time you gotta come in and watch." I don't know that this prevented the manager from doing further timings, but it might have made him more subtle about it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Becoming all too common...

        "Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!"

        Easy solution: Tell HR you have continence issues (no longer qualifies you for disability benefit, so you have to work) and that you consider any comments on your toilet frequency to be discrimination against your disability.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Becoming all too common...

        "software allowed them to log how long staff spent, amongst other things, on toilet breaks. Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!"

        A vocal response in public along these lines? - Well HR person, it's like this, I have chronic IBS which is exacerbated by the stress of my toilet time being monitored. This gives me torrential diahorrea and if I try to leave the cubicle too soon, I may have an accident. The consistency is very liquid and it splashes everywhere, I feel uncomfortable that I may leave the toilet in a state my colleagues may find highly offensive so I try to clean up after I have been. Perhaps if you employed a specialist cleaner to help and reduced stress levels then my medical condition might improve.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Becoming all too common...

        Spend too long on the loo and expect to have to explain yourself to HR!

        If there was only a way to insist the the HR idiot had to start monitoring in person. I bet I'd had him either go for a carbon filter gasmask in a few days or carefully edge back from making that mistake ever again. Not that I am (as far as I know) specifically malodorous, but I would certainly go and research the worst things to eat. And with forced attendance I can play with his mind to add a bit of zing to fumigating the idiot..

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Becoming all too common...

      "I hope I can get out before they decide to play their stupid games with my job."

      That would be missing an opportunity. If the timing's just right you have an opportunity to tell them what to do with their job rather than quietly disappear.

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Becoming all too common...

      Must be some sort of fad or a sales blitz happened recently by one of these tracking companies.

      It's happening because someone realised that, damn!, we should have robots slaves (and flying cars by now), but the tech jst isn't there because it's hard, it's expensive, and it sounds like it might take a while. What to do?

      However, if we chip people and make sure they are controlled by a dumb AI (spreadsheet or workflow system) then we can have fleshy robots. Not quite the same, however, flesh-bots are much cheaper, available now, service & maintenance can be fobbed off on society, and - best of all - they all have little feelings and dreams & aspirations that can be crushed.

  12. Adam 1 Silver badge

    it'd be a shame

    If some folk slipped on their cigarette lighters and some of these devices received their due respect.

  13. agatum

    > management said the boxes were there to monitor building heating systems

    Does even the said management believe this statement?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "management said the boxes were there to monitor building heating systems"

      Well, that's fine then (not). The boxes aren't there to monitor me, just the environment. So, I will continue to wander away from my desk whenever I need to and wait for HR to call me in for a discussion about not being at my desk.

      At which point I will talk to them about the legality of covert monitoring.

      In the meantime, if they are monitoring me then I shall monitor them. Companies often have many failings and dubious practices they don't want in the press, and individual managers, believe it or not, don't always follow the company guidelines and regulations, nor are they always aware of employment laws.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        "and individual managers, believe it or not, don't always follow the company guidelines and regulations,"

        This reminds me of when I was working in the R&D department of a medium sized company. I was having trouble with Accounts and Purchasing with sourcing some kit, my boss was away on a long trip. I mentioned this to the department librarian.

        An hour later I was equipped with a memo citing the relevant parts of the company handbook - actually a hardbound set of volumes - which basically told them that according the rules they were required to support engineers engaged in funded projects. I presented these to the heads of the relevant departments (A/P and Purchasing), wondering what would happen.

        The result was that the system unblocked like magic. I do wonder how many other organisations may have a similar huge shark circulating in a deep pool somewhere waiting to be activated by the one person who remembers it exists.

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Trollface

    No more knuckle-shuffles under the desk anymore?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lots of heat and movement would mean that the employer might see you as being very productive.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        "Lots of heat and movement would mean that the employer might see you as being very productive."

        Lots of heat and movement would mean that the employer might see you as being very reproductive.

        you forgot a couple of letters...

  15. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I hate micromanagement and all that comes with it. Just a waste of time, really.

    I prefer to give underlings their work, a deadline and expect them to stick to that.

    Monitoring users just to get better performance out of them just is not on... it will never work the way you want it to work.

    1. willi0000000

      @ Anonymous South African Coward

      "I prefer to give underlings their work, a deadline and expect them to stick to that."

      if you deadline them for Friday and they deliver on Thursday do you give them Friday off? . . . or just pile on more work?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Anonymous South African Coward

        "if you deadline them for Friday and they deliver on Thursday do you give them Friday off?"

        When I was doing a management course at STC, the lecturer recommended doing precisely that.

  16. Arctic fox
    Flame

    This kind of attitude to staff is as old as the hills...............

    ...........it is just being facilitated by modern technology. My dear mother had a job in a cigarette factory in Norway in the late 1940s. All the line workers were women and they discovered that the (male) foreman was (on the orders of senior management) following the ladies when they took a toilet break to time how long they spent in the loo. Mum promptly organised a strike (she was a bit of a firebrand in her younger days) and the management backed down. All that is happening now is they are displaying the same contempt for their employees - just using modern surveilence/sensor technology to do it.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: This kind of attitude to staff is as old as the hills...............

      That may be true, but as far as I'm concerned this sort of thing is profoundly unacceptable. I you think you can only employ me if you are able to check up on how I'm doing my job second-by-second, then my work is not for sale to you. I'll be the judge of when I go to get a coffee and how long I sit on the loo, and no-one else. If you find refusal of 24/7 surveillance unthinkable I'll just go work for someone else willing to regard me as an actual, responsible human being - and if becoming a lumberjack is what it takes to get rid of this sort of insult, then so be it: I'm quite happy to use the nuclear option --->

  17. Steve 114
    Coat

    Hotdeskers I saw abroad would bag the best seats by windows (or have friends do it) really early, then not sit there as they had more interesting things to do (never-ending 'meetings' in a cosy 'pod'). Some seats were so popular with senior people that nobody else would ever dare to sit there, even when 'owners' were away. Not saying monitoring would help, but notice the use-case. My raincoat's on THAT chair, so leave it alone.

  18. James 51 Silver badge

    If you stick a fan under your desk, the PC, an umbrealla etc etc how is that going to throw this stuff off? Stick one of those hand warmers to the thing and wait for the HR department to pile out of the building thinking it is on fire.

  19. Buster

    Journalists are supposed to be witnessing and reporting on what goes on in the world and therefore should not be stuck at their desks. Too many of our quality papers rely on rehashed, repurposed reports from other newspapers and press releases with a light sprinkling of what might pass as real journalism if you did not look too closely. The main index of how sedentary journalism has become is the acknowledgement on the photographs. If its PA it could have something to do and related in time with the story. If its Corbis, Alamy, Rex or some other stock agency then the chances are that the image could have been taken at any time in the past and is chosen to suit the bias of the paper. The Telegraph have used a photograph of a monolithic slab of flats in south London to "illustrate" a story on social housing at the other end of the country even though the flats in the photograph were knocked down years before and don't bear any relation to present conditions anywhere in the country.

    1. Lord Raa

      But that's what we get with the new Buzzfeed style click-bait that we have these days.

      Speaking of which, I'm led to believe that they had a video of their employees drinking their own urine for clicks.

      Make of that what you will.

    2. John Bailey

      "Journalists are supposed to be witnessing and reporting on what goes on in the world and therefore should not be stuck at their desks."

      Be fair though.. It was the Daily Mail.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It saves all the hassle of having HR looking over your shoulder

    and sooner or later might save the hassle of having HR as such. Ah, sweet revenge....

  21. LDS Silver badge
    Joke

    Oh my god! You can no longer have...

    ... an hot secretary moving under the desk without being spotted by motion and temperature sensors!

    BTW: were the temperature and movements under the executives' desks also monitored to improve their offices microclimate? Or the risk of spotting something "hot" under those desks is just too high?

    (Bad) jokes apart, the excuse is very lame. It's clear the temperature and motion sensor (and their positions) are there just to understand if there is something at about 36/37°C at the desk...

  22. TonyJ Silver badge

    So much is wrong here

    I echo others. For me, personally, when I am in charge of projects/staff etc, I really do not give a rats backside what they are doing from minute to minute providing they aren't dragging the company into the gutter, and/or putting themselves at risk. And even if it turned out they were, I'd be more concerned about trying to help them than firing them at this point.

    What I personally care about is first and foremost the quality of the work they output and secondly that if they commit do producing said work by such and such a time and date, they do exactly that. If they cannot (and in the real world, we all know that things do crop up) then I want to know with plenty of time so we can hopefully resolve the issues preventing it from happening before it becomes a problem.

    Equally I don't much care where the work from unless there's a pressing need for them to be in a particular location. And even then - want to work 7:30 - 16:00 or 10:30 - 19:00 say? Fine, as long as you make any commitments for meetings etc.

    To my mind, when you trust the people who are working for you, yes you're occasionally going to be burned by a bad/lazy/incompetent staff member, or one that will plain try to take the urine, but on the whole the level of commitment and the quality of work only goes upwards.

    So no...I don't much care if you're in a lap dancing bar during lunch/out on a Friday and I most certainly wouldn't be phoning your wife (that chap sounds downright spiteful).

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: So much is wrong here

      Right. For the matter, I had developers who could heat a chair for eight hours and produce an average of a couple of (bad) lines of code per day. My way of assessing their performance was to look at the VCS data, and if something looked "strange", looking at the actual code written. It also helped to spot people stuck on problems they weren't able to solve alone, but unwillingly to ask for help.

      But I also worked in some truly disfunctioncal environments where bad/lazy/incompetent people were never properly sanctioned (after trying to understand what was the problem - uselessy), because management didn't care (as long as other worked to deliver), or feared HR issues, and in turn other people started to underperform because they were not willingly to work hard and get all the stress from it, and be paid the same of those who didn't. One "Wally" can create havoc if not handled correctly.

  23. Nolveys Silver badge
    Boffin

    Cool Tech

    In addition to sensing motion and heat the upcoming OccupEye® 4000 will also use a large bore needle to take fluid samples every 15 minutes.

  24. Efros

    Fundamentally

    It boils down to whether or not you are doing your job. If you are then management should be able to realize this without monitoring your every breathing moment, and similarly if you aren't this should be apparent without some electronic peek a boo sneaking on you. If management can't establish your effectiveness without activating the secret police then there's something "rotten in the state of Denmark".

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Fundamentally

      It boils down to whether or not management are doing their job. If they are then they should be able to realize you are doing your job without monitoring your every breathing moment. If management can't establish your effectiveness without activating the secret police then there's something "rotten in the state of Denmark".

  25. Unep Eurobats

    False positives

    I used to work at a place that had mice. You could see them under the desks after about 6 when the place had quietened down. That would have skewed the monitoring results: 'Those developers still playing footsie at 10 in the evening.'

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately this is the latest badly thought out senior management/HR craze

    We didn't get the motion sensors, but our office recently went through a number of spot check occupancy level surveys and the survey company reported back that 25% desks were (on average) unused. This has been translated into 3 floors of free space: that, once we're all moved, can be rented out. Trebles all round! Our target occupancy level has been set at 80% (a 5% margin for error - clever survey people!) and we are all going to hot-desking.

    Unfortunately:

    - The survey was carried out in early February and August so may well not have been indicative of general occupancy. Rumour has it the survey company offered a cheaper deal to do it then, presumably because every other company doesn't feel the need for occupancy checks during peak skiing and summer holiday seasons.

    - Our remote working solution isn't terribly fast or reliable - the solution uses the once great now sadly bloated Citrix, its central server hub is in another country, our network management is outsourced to a company that doesn't seem to understand networking and so on...

    - Broadband speeds in the UK aren't great.

    - A number of our jobs are greatly eased by sitting near each other.

    Luckily, as dual centres of excellence, this isn't applying to HR, who need the positive synergisational framework of being able to talk pointless shit to each other all day every day - the sort of pointless shit that leads to ideas like this, and it isn't applying to our senior managers, who need their offices to sleep in.

    Productivity is going to plummet. But it'll be a great success and the new companies who rent our 3 'spare' floors will be getting space in a premium building otherwise unavailable.

    1. Holleritho Silver badge

      Re: Unfortunately this is the latest badly thought out senior management/HR craze

      I was a consultant on a big project and doomed to hot-desking. Given that there were always too few to go around, and I had no storage, I tethered my laptop to a friendly colleague's desk every night and had my bit of paperwork in a lever arch file under her desk. Every morning I spent about 30 minutes trying to find a desk. I totted up the time per day wasted hunting a desk and then getting set up over the lifetime of the project (about 17 months) and, my goodness, this great HR/senior management scheme to save money had cost the company quite a packet. I could have actually been productive in that time, but no.

  27. Keir Snelling
    Big Brother

    Hands up who checked under their own desk after reading this story? Up arrow if you did.

    1. n0r0imusha

      checked

      though i only sound bits of hardware and empty amazon boxes

  28. nicholassmith

    install motion detectors under desk = productivity analytics??

    what a silly choice of solution to monitor staff, plenty good software platforms out there that monitor all desktop, laptop behavior to compile info on behaviour and usage of company resources.

    just because i am at my desk does not 100% prove that i a actually working let alone being productive.

    **sigh**

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      just because i am at my desk does not 100% prove that i a actually working let alone being productive.

      You could be writing comments on Internet forums ;-)

  29. lobsterpasties

    It's all right for them to put monitoring devices under desks, but as soon as I put my own cameras there it's off to the police station for me again.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes please...

    Then the management might start believing us when we say that one guy is only at his desk for 60% of the day. Who knows where he is the rest of the time. He did get moved to another project for a while but they got rid of him soon after as he was under-productive....

  31. Otto is a bear.

    What do you expect

    You have to remember most senior managers are sociopaths, mostly with poor interpersonal skills who nobody wants to talk too. So because they have no social interaction in the workplace, the assume no one else does either, and see no value in it.

    They are also of course control freaks, who want to and think they know everything.

  32. keithpeter
    Coat

    Possibly naive observations...

    ...I work as a teacher, so I have a large degree of autonomy in the job and the job *requires* me to be away from my desk for large stretches of time by definition - but the timetabling system will tell you where I am. I am monitored by outcomes and through process (teaching observations) and by various kinds of procedural information (attendance registers for students, ongoing progress monitoring of students &c).

    1. If you are in a hot desk place, what actually stops you from working at home for one day/20% of the week? The implication is that it does not matter where you sit in the building - why not extend that concept?

    2. Someone up the screen observed that once data is collected for one purpose, it will end up being used for other purposes, possibly not so well thought out. This is a real issue in my experience - quite possibly a law on the level of 2nd Law of Thermodynamics but for organisations. Of course there is no careful framing of the hypothesis that is being tested, and so no certainty that the data collected is sufficient to decide the case, a good example being the one about collecting desk occupancy data during seasons with high annual leave requests.

    3. Another common pattern that I have observed is the way setting a numerical target for something tends to 'collapse' wider concepts of success. Sort of like the wave packet being condensed in Quantum Mechanics. Once a target exists, the system is gamed so the target is met. Schools have to show X % of passes at A-C in Maths and other core subjects, so it has been observed that both extremes of the ability range get lower resources while the middle get intensive coaching to ensure C rather than D. I'm currently in the part of the system that deals with the fall-out of this.

    4. What happened to 'management by exception'? Am I really out of date on that one?

    I don't work Tuesdays (fractional post) so off out while it isn't raining.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Possibly naive observations...

      1a) Eternal Suffering is *required* to placate the Many-Angled Ones.

      1b) It pisses people off when, relieved from stupid colleagues, PHB-interference, commuting and meetings, the off-site people ends up being about twice as productive as their "managed" colleagues.

      2) Of course. Perpetually expanding Brownian motion is 80% of the work in most large organisationg.

      3) Yes. It's a Feature.

      4) In order to game the numbers more effectively, management reorganise often so that no useful data is collected on the actual performance of said management. With no stability, there are no exceptions - or - rather, Everything is an Exception.

  33. Robin Bradshaw

    Did they do a teardown?

    This OccupEye device has the whiff of half arsed internet-of-shit™ about it.

    I wouldn't have been able to get any work done until i had fired up the sdr captured the transmissions, decoded the no doubt plaintext packet format and then bodged up something with an arduino and cheap chipcon radio to feed nonsense to the receivers. It would ruin my productivity.

    everybody here, everybody gone, everybody here.......

    If anyone has sniffed these devices do tell, id love to know if there is any security.

  34. Tom 7 Silver badge

    HR gone mad.

    If they tried that on me they'd be up for a huge compensation claim due to the damage this would do to my already dodgy knees.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: HR gone mad.

      But don't forget to writhe around on the floor in a seemingly productive manner...

  35. Huns n Hoses

    I for one am glad to be helping keep our heating costs down, as you explain. Thank you mangement (typo?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cutting heating costs is a two-step process: Place waste basket under desk, set contents alight.

  36. Kirstian K
    Mushroom

    Surely

    a Browser / web history monitor to see who is reading the register will weed out all the slackers....

    Sack the lot of them slacking commentards... lol

  37. Duffaboy
    Joke

    Meanwhile who monitors HR

    Erm...No one

  38. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    There is no part of this train wreck that wasn't mishandled, from the installation to the transparetly lame "explanation".

    I am reminded of an episode of "The World Of Beachcomber" in which he told the viewers that his test for whether a B&B was up to snuff was to nail a kipper under the dining room table and check for its presence the next year.

    Cut to landlady hotly denying that the trick had been used at her establishment, then finding a kipper under the table in mid-denial.

    1. mrjohn

      Re: Bah!

      So the guy damaged property and put people's health at risk to prove that they didn't check under the table for affixed kippers?

      In Japanese we say "kudaranai"

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        In English we say "Please to take look at this unworthy Wiki article before make honorable arse of self".

        Absent wikipedia, consider the absurdity of:

        a) the number of hands needed to hammer a nail upward into a table while trying to hold a kipper, the nail and the hammer

        2) doing so "stealthily"

        The joke (for joke it was) hinged on the absurdity of the stench of a rotting kipper being undetected for a year, and the unspecified nature of the problems of a Bed and Breakfast in which said stench was undetectable.

        But if your absurdity detector has a flat battery I guess the joke falls flat too.

  39. Alex Brett

    Excuse perhaps a little poorly thought through?

    From what I can see on the OccupEye spec page, the devices only have a PIR, there is no temperature sensor built in.

    If that's the case (and it's not just missing from the page), then there was no way these were monitoring the building temperature, the 'best' they could say was they were monitoring how many desks were being used e.g. in advance of a move to hotdesking...

  40. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Please tell me the installation was discovered by a journo as he attempted to take his morning kip under his desk.

  41. Natalie Gritpants

    When I was at Intel

    you could always tell when I was working hard - the motion sensor in the light above my desk would turn off due to me just typing and staring at the screen. The light was on when I was goofing off (nose picking, arse scratching, yawning, drinking coffee etc..

  42. NotWorkAdmin

    I got caught reading this at work

    Got told:

    1: Implement

    2: You're fired!

  43. cortland
    Big Brother

    So don't sit

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/2013/11/15/easily-convert-your-conventional-desk-to-a-standing-desk-without-permanent-modifications/

    [NB: Not an endorsement, just an example]

    1. Vic

      Re: So don't sit

      There's a variation on that. I recommend the advice there wholeheartedly.

      Vic.

    2. notowenwilson

      Re: So don't sit

      I (literally) have my desk jacked up on 4 boxes of office paper. Apparently I need a doctor's note to explain why I want a standing desk. I can't get a doctor's note though, because having been working standing up for the last 2 years I don't have back pain anymore.

  44. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Down

    Tracking/monitoring badge?

    I think the odds that it would take a trip through the washer are fairly high. I might even use the microwave to dry it off.

    Or, it might just get clipped to my bag and remain at my desk all day. I've worked in several companies that required me to wear a badge, and it was always in my wallet, never clipped to my shirt. Managers were the only ones who wore them. Corporate fear of unauthorized snoopers was always the excuse for asking you to wear them. As both companies went under, I pity the [alleged] snoopers.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Tracking/monitoring badge?

      Nah, no need to destroy the device. Just make the second circuit listed on this web page but replace the visible light LED with an IR one. Place under desk but don't forget it overnight otherwise HR will be round wondering why you never left!

  45. Bruce Ordway

    Scale

    It used to be only the bigger companies who could get involved in schemes like this. Now anyone has access to cheap monitoring systems.

    During my time as an IT admin, I learned to be "extra" careful in ANY public/work environment. I was called upon to monitor the activity of several employees over the years. At least back then... each case was reviewed and approved by management BEFORE monitoring commenced. There was a general awareness of an employee behavioral issues too. Monitoring was only requested as the last resort by HR. When required to have documentation before any discussion of dismissing an employee took place.

    The idea of enterprise wide, continuous data collection is pretty scary to me. I do know some analysts who are very capable but... I've also seen untrained doorknobs who jump to conclusions or want to justify actions based on their own moral code... especially in some smaller organizations I've worked with.

  46. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    OccupEye

    "God's light, these villains will make the word as odious as the word 'occupy;' which was an excellent good word before it was ill sorted..."

    Henry IV, Part 2, Act 2, Scene 4

    And is that Boston Sociometric or Boston Sociopathic?

  47. spotburst

    Can the heat/movement sensors detect 'hot and rhythmic' movement? ;-)

  48. Unbelievable!

    Hell. I can sleep for hours at my desk...

    Attendance problem = solved.

    I'm going on break...

  49. ecofeco Silver badge

    If I ever saw one of those under my desk...

    ...it would the last time it ever senses my butt in that chair.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Overblown story

    I expect that the sensors are there to measure the usage of the space, not to keep tabs on the staff.

    Management want to know if the desks are being used efficiently, since space for a desk in central London can cost more than paying the person to work at it. When staff are having meetings, or are working off-site much of the time, a hot-desking arrangement might be much more cost effective for the business, since half the desks in the office might be unused most of the time.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Overblown story

      Technically, you have a point. But when you think it through, it means trying to counter one 'evil' (insane real estate prices) with another (intrusive monitoring).

  51. walter.bishop Silver badge
    Linux

    How to defeat motion sensors ..

    I do believe C5H4N4O3 has a detrimental effect on such sensors. How to defeat VoloMetrix is to open masses of windows when you arrive in the morning and leave them open all day. It'll slow dow the computer but then again so will VoloMetrix, without adding any value to the work process.

  52. td97402

    Welcome to 1984!

    Increasingly it looks like our corporate masters will be the ones to implement the surveillance state rather than the government. I know, I know, many of you will fail to see the difference between government and our corporate overlords but let's not quibble amongst ourselves over details.

    I wonder how long before the corps decide to make their surveillance data a product to sell directly to the government. Oops! Once again you might quibble, as the telcos, and others, already get compensation from the government for complying with data "requests".

    So, I guess my point is completely naive, the big corps and the government are so intertwined at this point...

  53. Philip 5

    Name and shame the employers indulging in this unnecessary and intrusive security theatre/voyeurism/paranoia. Make them career no-go areas.

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