Junk-Mail Firm Straps GPS Devices To People Handing Out Pamphlets

from the how-low-can-you-go? dept

Down in Australia, a firm that hires teens to deliver junk-mail pamphlets to houses has decided to make their processes a bit more efficient by forcing the kids to wear a GPS device that records all their moves -- making sure they visit the houses they were assigned and do so in the order prescribed by the company. Some of the kids aren't particularly happy about being spied on this way, and apparently the company expected that. With the information pack about the GPS devices, they included a simple resignation form for those who weren't happy about the idea. Again, it seems like this is a modern attempt to bring back Taylorism, the idea that all workplace activities can be scientifically monitored and made more efficient -- as if people were machines. There's nothing wrong with working on ways to make employees more productive, but it needs to occur with the recognition that they're human beings and constantly spying on them and making them feel inadequate tends to hurt productivity more than it helps. It certainly doesn't make for particularly loyal employees. Perhaps that's fine for a business such as a junk-mail pamphleteer, but there is still a cost involved in hiring and training new people, while being able to fill in for those who quit. It's one of those things that sounds good to management (oooh, efficiency! productivity!) but whose consequences aren't carefully thought out. Of course, the firm responds to such charges by including the standard line that no one who is actually a good worker should be upset about being tracked, since it's only designed to spot the bad workers.

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  1. identicon
    Chris, 31 Oct 2006 @ 9:57am

    Your off on this

    I worked for a political action group a few years ago, in a similar situation. The problem: They would higher neighborhood canvassers to walk around and get people to register to vote, however, often the canvassers would just sit on a bench or head home for a while, fill out some fake voter registrations and return them back like they had worked all day with no way to verify. We started having them all carry PDA's that they had to hit a button on each time they vistited a household, registered a voter, etc, and timestaped each instance. We were able to effectively filter out bad employees based on any timing irregularities on the PDA's. I imagine this is much the same situation, teenagers are not the most responsible workers. Would you leave an entire company you owned completely unmonitored and just assume everything was running fine? I highly doubt it.

    Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
    [guard starts dipping mechanism]
    Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
    Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
    Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?

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