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The latest Microsoft Teams update is like something straight out of Black Mirror

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Microsoft is working on an update for collaboration platform Teams that, although seemingly well-intentioned, could create a way for businesses to track the performance of employees.

The company is developing new functionality for the Praise app in Microsoft Teams, which is supposed to provide an avenue for employees to exchange thanks and pat one another on the back for tasks well done.

Currently, that’s as far as the application goes. However, according to a post in the Microsoft product roadmap, Teams users will soon be able to access a history of the praise they have sent and received. This history will extend back six months and can be viewed via the Viva Insights application for Teams.

The update is still under development, but will reportedly roll out to all Teams users by the end of November.

A worrying new trend?

With the rise of remote working during the pandemic, businesses have sought new ways to celebrate the good work of employees, in lieu of an in-person thank you or shout-out.

However, many companies have also looked for ways to monitor the performance of remote employees. And it’s easy to imagine how the upcoming update could create opportunities for the Praise app to be used for these purposes, whether this is Microsoft’s intention or not.

In theory, the new praise history feature could provide administrators with a running tally of positive feedback received by each of their employees. While this isn’t a particularly scientific way of identifying the best performers, the information could at least highlight the employees least likely to earn praise from managers and peers.

The app stops well short of assigning each team member with a score or star-rating - a terrifying concept explored in season three of TV series Black Mirror - but could potentially be used as a crude proxy for such a system. It’s worth noting that it is possible for administrators to disable the Praise app entirely, but not the praise history feature in isolation.

TechRadar Pro has asked Microsoft for comment on the potential for the Praise app to be used as an employee monitoring tool, and for clarification over which staff will have access to praise history data.

Date

11 Oct 2021

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