A missing piece of communication data: offline interpersonal activities
One of the discussions in LPA is interpersonal connectivity might yield some insights to measure and drive performance at organizations. In this digitalized world, it is easy for companies to track emails and meetings between employees and customers. Analysis of such data could result in better performance measurement and evaluation, risk management, etc. However, we did not see any example to cover face-to-face conversation.
Interpersonal communication could mean talking to someone face-to-face, walking over to the other corners of the office, or running into someone in a hallway. But how could we track these offline activities? This is where we discussed and believed that they are important but not being captured. These missing pieces would be another key information that People Analytics might want to incorporate into a model. What if there’s a technology that might give a proxy about this offline communication?
During this COVID-19 tough time, Google and Apple proposed tracking technology relying on Bluetooth. Unlike other geolocation tracking technology, which might raise concerns about privacy and even illegal, this new technology track “proximity” between two devices. The article described it to be used during the COVID-19 pandemic that will inform people who might be in contact with positive tested people.
A key advantage here is that the identifier keeping changing makes the user anonymous, statistically speaking. IT departments may not be able to track, again statistically speaking, who owns the key at each time.
Let’s imagine if we push the technology to another level, now we almost have a complete workplace communication tracking system. We have telephone, computer, text message on Slack or Workplace, email, and now proximity.
What can we get from having this proximity data? Now we might know that our best engineers are those who walk back and forth between sales to get feedback from clients. Or we might know that our marketing team lead is not coaching his new joiner. We could then use this data to measure what is going well, and what should be fixed. Also, this interpersonal measurement could show us what kind of culture an organization is and make sense of relational analytics.
There is a requirement that employees have to carry the device all the time. In some companies, they might want to install the technology in the employee ID cards that would be carried all day all time. This will definitely add more complications for HR department to keep generate non-traditional ID cards.
The analytic part is also not easy. To make use of this, it is not the first data point that small companies want to use. For example, a startup with less than 50 people sitting in the same floor could assume that everyone know each other and connect to all. Thus, only companies at a certain scale can spend their money to squeeze the last drop of juice out.
Despite the pandemic, the new tech giant might produce a technology that People Analytics team could use to get the information that wasn’t available before. Instead of using privacy concerned practice, proximity tracking could solve the challenge while maintaining annonyminity of the users. I hope this technology could lead us to a better model of organization that we capture organization cultures, a part that has been offline despite the digital era.
 Austermuehle, E., 2016. Monitoring Your Employees Through GPS: What Is Legal, And What Are Best Practices?. [online] Greensfelder.com. Available at: <https://www.greensfelder.com/business-risk-management-blog/monitoring-your-employees-through-gps-what-is-legal-and-what-are-best-practices> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
 Winkler, S., 2020. Here’S How Apple And Google Plan To Track The Coronavirus Through Your Phone. [online] WSJ. Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/articles/heres-how-apple-and-google-plan-to-track-the-coronavirus-through-your-phone-11586618075?mod=business_minor_pos7> [Accessed 14 April 2020].
 Leonardi, P. and Contractor, N., 2018. Better People Analytics. Harvard Business Review,.