Microsoft to Patent Employee Monitoring System

Microsoft has filed a patent application titled "Organizational Behavior Monitoring Analysis And Influence" that apparently monitors the employees behavior via computers, phone calls, and physical gestures, and alerts human resources if anyone is behaving outside of preferred norms."Organizational behaviors may be monitored, analyzed, and influenced via multi-modal communication sessions," patent application #20110276369, filed on May […]

MicrosoftMicrosoft has filed a patent application titled "Organizational Behavior Monitoring Analysis And Influence" that apparently monitors the employees behavior via computers, phone calls, and physical gestures, and alerts human resources if anyone is behaving outside of preferred norms.

"Organizational behaviors may be monitored, analyzed, and influenced via multi-modal communication sessions," patent application #20110276369, filed on May 10, 2010 reads.

Per the abstract:

Approaches are provided for monitoring, analyzing, and influencing organizational behaviors through multi-modal communication systems.

"Desired and undesired behaviors and applicable organizational contexts are defined and action plans developed. The behaviors are then monitored through communication sessions between members and analyzed for comparison to the action plans such that feedback may be provided at individual and/or organizational levels to influence the behaviors."

The patent describes how an increase in an employee's trust in the boss is the equivalent to a pay rise, so to promote such feelings a computer system could be developed that monitors digital interaction in the workplace. This could be used to encourage behavior that makes employees happier and more trusting, and more in line with what the HR department views as good practice.

The monitoring system works by monitoring who makes certain verbal comments, who cuts off people during conversations, who makes certain gestures or mannerisms, which eventually get scored or highlighted in the system.

"Mannerisms may include visual cues such as wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, and similar ones," the patent further explains.

Microsoft Employee-monitoring Network Diagram

This monitoring ranges from simple accounting for time spent on email, web browsing, and word processing, so that people aren't interrupted when they are working, to more deeper analysis of behavioral ticks - or "tells," as the patent calls them. These include cutting people off in conversations, making prolonged monologues, and even hand gestures - Kinect is everywhere after all - as well as wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting.

This data is then ranked against a corporate set of predetermined values, with possible outcomes listed as "increased efficiency, increased participation, awareness of cultural practices, increased empowerment and engagement of employees, career growth, and trust improvement."

"The communication systems may include distinct networked systems for individual modalities such as Voice over IP (VOIP) systems, text exchange systems and technologies and video conferencing systems," explains the patent.

"The communication systems may also include enhanced systems such as unified communication networks, where one or more services may manage multiple modalities for in-network as well as out-of-network communications. As such, the communication systems may employ a number of servers such as communication servers, audio/video servers, database servers, presence servers, communications appliances and comparable ones. Members of the organization may participate in conversations through a number of end point devices such as laptop computers, netbooks, handheld computers, desktop computers, vehicle mount computers, smart phones, cellular phones, and similar ones. Moreover, one or more networks of the same or different type may be utilized in facilitating the communications and monitoring behaviors," describes the patent.

Microsoft Employee Performance output display