Adappt Privacy


Privacy Yields Trust. Apologies to any Michael Jackson fans out there if that was misleading.

Policymakers have a tough time keeping up with engineers. New technology constantly prompts changes to old, widely accepted laws. In 1920, no one could have imagined a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, both due to lack of high-speed vehicles and lack of an interstate system. In 1970, nobody could have predicted internet privacy laws. In 2000, it would have been tough for anyone to foresee the modern role of technology in the workplace. In 2018, workplace analytics is a common tale, often told as a “Big Brother” horror story. Ideally, in most cases, it is nothing close to that.

Increased analytic knowledge of a workplace can have a number of benefits, including boosted productivity, increased employee comfort (by understanding temperature and other factors), and real estate savings for companies. However, all of that is lost if the use of IoT technology is antithetic to an employee’s comfort. According to a 2016 EY study of 9,859 working adults across eight countries on four continents, including the US, UK, China, and Brazil, less than half (46%) of global professionals have a great deal of trust in their employers. Furthermore, 59% of respondents noted that transparent communication is very important to promoting trust. Consequently, communicating openly with employees or employers about any type of new system in the office is always a good idea. Unhappy employees are a poor asset to any business.

Different areas of the world have wildly different workplace cultures. A workday in Japan would seem extreme to the average American, whose workday would seem extreme to the average Swede. Beyond differences in workplace time commitments lies a difference in perception of the importance of privacy. In Europe, there are clear-cut laws about which technologies are conscientious of privacy. In the United States, there are also clear rules, but people tend to be slightly more lenient as long as employers are clear about how, exactly, these technologies function. It is much more digestible, as a hypothetical example, to have an employer monitor time spent on Gmail, without letting them read individual emails sent. Those are both variations of the same concept but received very differently by the public. Adappt has a completely anonymous system, which allows us to collect valuable productivity and utilization related data without collecting any information on individual employees. Similarly to the Gmail example, an IoT company that provides anonymous data on workspace utilization would be far more welcome than one that is not completely anonymous.

In an era increasingly determined by technological innovation, it is impossible to predict how the workplace will look and operate for twenty years. A new device invented tomorrow could completely transform a standard of office spaces that seems set in stone today. With IoT use in office spaces becoming a common trend, it is key that employers relay to their employees exactly how these new systems work and how that relates to the employee experience. Hopefully, employee trust in the future will be greater than it currently is today. With open and clear dialogue about workplace privacy in the modern age, trust can be restored.

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