Salon's The Scarey New Labormetrics of Work describes a trend we've following for some time now. It's the use of software and analytical tools to analyze, track and improve work methods and performance.
They use the term "labormetrics" to describe these tools and efforts. The term is riff on the use of statistics in baseball, which is called sabermetrics.
The article focuses on how Gigwalk - a company that hires people for mobile micro-tasks - uses data and analytics to measure how well jobs are done. The independent contractors who perform well get more work. The people who don't, don't.
The article is quite negative on the use of labormetrics. Key quote:
Under the reign of labormetrics, the productive shall be rewarded and the weak shall flounder.
Labormetrics (we like this term) is powerful trend that gets surprising little attention in the media. There are many examples beyond Gigwalk of labormetrics at work, including:
Companies like Kronos (one of the larger software companies you've likely never heard of) are providing workforce scheduling software that better optimize the deployment of workers, reducing costs and helping companies create a just-time-workforce.
oDesk provides businesses that contractors on their site a work diary. This is, according to their site, "a combination timesheet and progress report for hourly contracts. It includes both memos and snapshots of exactly what the contractor is working on for you during their billed hours." In other words, a labormetrics system for overseeing contract employee work.
Like most other technologies, labormetric systems can be good or bad depending on how they're used.
The Salon article focuses on the negatives - and we will no doubt be hearing more about the negatives of labormetrics. These systems can be used to de-humanize work and workplaces.
But labormetrics also has good sides and can lead to increased productivity without harming workers.
We'll be covering this trend in more detail in the coming months.