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Here’s what your boss might be able to see while you’re at work

Danielle Abril

THE WASHINGTON POST – Most of the activities you do online, like browsing the Internet or interacting on social media, leave a digital footprint.

The same is often true when using digital workplace tools.

The software tools you use to do tasks like collaborate with your colleagues, host meetings or create digital files often track certain activities for various purposes, in many cases for safety, security or compliance.

That said, your employer may be able to access activity logs – though it may be a complex process – and piece together where you have been spending your time.

As workforces have become increasingly distributed during the pandemic, workers should be aware of what data is being collected.

Workplace and software providers such as Microsoft and Slack, a communication and collaboration tool, advise against using the metrics and data it provides to track productivity, suggesting that activity and productivity aren’t the same and that those metrics aren’t an accurate representation of the amount of work a person is doing.

PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

And tracking workers’ metrics on their apps could ultimately break trust, they said.

Instead, some suggest using other methods to ensure productivity. Microsoft, for example, touts its product Viva Goals, which allows teams to set objectives and goals and track progress together.

“You can’t just focus on the things that we may think is happening,” said Senior Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft Sunita Khatri. “You have to look at what’s really happening.”

This table shows some activities your employer may be able to see on video conferencing platform Zoom, Slack, Microsoft 365 and Google. Microsoft 365 includes communications app Teams, e-mail app Outlook and word processing app Word. Google Workspace includes e-mail app Gmail, video conferencing app Meet and word processing app Docs.

(In the table, Slack is based on enterprise plans where administrators have not disabled specific features.)

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