Sep 14, 2018 in Viewpoint

3 myths about privacy at smart offices

Smart offices can provide employees with more comfort. However, they also spark the privacy debate. Employees have doubts and fears when it comes to ‘tracking systems’ on the work floor. Will their location be shared with their boss? And can colleagues always find them? It’s time to clear up some myths.

Anne Wernand
by Anne Wernand

"Now my boss will always know when I left the office"

We hear this concern often. In most cases, employees are no longer required to work office hours when an ABW concept is implemented. Still, the fear of monitoring persists and many people just don’t like the idea that they are constantly being followed.

Whenever an employee checks in with Mapiq, we do, indeed, collect data which could theoretically show how many hours someone was present at the office. However, Mapiq does not store this information. Because of this, we would never provide, or even be able to provide your boss with this information. Whenever Mapiq Analytics is turned on, we will store only portions of the collected data. The data is all thrown into a big pile, so to speak. Data analysis is then carried out and conclusions are drawn about the amount of time employees spend at the office, what the busiest times are, which areas of the office are most popular and what percent of the time rooms have been reserved. The outcomes are interesting for both the employer and the employees.

Employees always have the option to opt-out
Employees always have the option to opt-out

"My colleagues can find me anytime, anywhere"

Whenever you check in with Mapiq, we will show where you're located in the building at that moment in time. However, the detail of your location depends on the hardware in the office. It could be that we know what meeting room you are, but this isn’t always the case. We will never do this without your consent and this system does not always have to be turned on. And, here too, the same applies: as soon as you check out, Mapiq ‘forgets’ the data. Our sensor data is lost as soon as we pick up a new signal. Mapiq’s interface also doesn’t show that someone checked in at 8:30 but instead, it will generalize and say ‘around 10 minutes ago’ or ‘2 hours ago’.

“Everyone can access my data”

In the future, we would like to continue to offer optimal support. However, for employees, to really experience the benefits they must understand how we save and protect their data so they can start trusting the system. One of the big differences as compared with other tracking systems, such as the ones used in advertisement, is that we don’t use data as a source of income. The employer pays for the system but not for the data, this data is always protected.

In the future, we hope everybody will be able to start experiencing the benefits of data collection in the workplace. Receiving a message stating where your colleagues, with whom you often collaborate, can be found in the building is a good example of this. This will save you time and energy looking for them. Or, for example, an automatic adjustment of the room temperature of a conference room as based on your ideal climate. All of this is possible. But only with your consent.

Localization in the smart office

With Mapiq technology employees can find their colleagues and even get location-specific suggestions on where to go. The method we use for this is localization. But that term raises a lot of questions. In our next viewpoint, we’ll dive into the technological field!

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