Last week cyber security and privacy researchers hit out at Microsoft’s Productivity Score tool from Microsoft 365. Criticisms focused on the feature being a potential form of workplace surveillance and an attack on employee privacy. After initially defending the tool, Microsoft has now made some changes.
Or should that be concessions? Either way, Microsoft is responding to critics by making changes to Productivity Score in Microsoft 365.
Productivity Score gives admins on Microsoft 365 the ability to track employees activity. While tracking employees is something many companies may do, Microsoft 365 tracks the activity of workers on an individual level.
Critics of the tool say it allows admins to gather individual data on employees. It may be designed to show who is most productive in a workforce, but some argue it is a surveillance tools that removes the right of individual privacy.
Despite defending the tool, Microsoft now says new changes help to ensure employee privacy. In other words, Microsoft has removed some offending aspects of Productivity Score. Microsoft 365 CVP Jared Spataro detailed the changes in a blog titled Our commitment to Privacy in Microsoft Productivity Score:
“Over the last week, there’s been a lot of conversation about Microsoft Productivity Score—a tool that helps organizations measure and manage the adoption of Microsoft 365. We’ve heard the feedback, and today we’re responding by making changes to the product to further bolster privacy for customers.”
There are two clear changes. Microsoft says the tool no longer has users’ names and will now only measure aggregate data. This means admins can check productivity across their organization but cannot track individual employees.
Furthermore, Microsoft has also released a new UI for the feature. This new interface puts a focus on technology adoption and not the level of work. Microsoft points out the tool was never supposed to be a tracker for individual employees.