In October of 2019, Microsoft started looking into what is explained in the patent as “Emotion Detection from Contextual Signals for Surfacing Wellness Insights” technology. This basically boils down to an elaborate explanation for the collection of various indicators, such as those from biometrics, fitness trackers, smart watches, and usage data from Microsoft Office software, to give employees insights into mental wellness. The idea here is to make employees more aware of how well they are handling stress and suggest ways to handle it in a safe and healthy way, such as going for a walk or taking a short break.
If we apply this idea, it might be a bit easier to understand. Let’s say Jim has an important meeting within the hour. He starts to get anxious, which manifests itself in subtle ways like typos, spelling errors, or taking longer to perform certain tasks. He might not realize it, but it is in fact affecting his ability to perform in the workplace. A notification might pop up on his device that tells him he is feeling anxious, which then tells him what he can do about it based on his current schedule.
Will Microsoft Act on This Idea?
Filing a patent for an idea is entirely different from actually using it, so who can tell if Microsoft will actually implement this technology? While we don’t know for sure if this idea will see the light of day, it is certainly nice to know that someone has their eyes out for the employees of the world—especially those who might be under a lot of stress in the workplace.
Other Companies Have Plans, Too
While Microsoft might be one of the more recent patents in the bunch, it is far from the only company considering these ideas. Here are just a couple of examples of how some tech companies are prioritizing stress levels during the pandemic.
- MyAnalytics: Microsoft also offers MyAnalytics, an individualized wellness, and productivity tool. Also in this realm is Viva, a Teams-based tool that combines the benefits of MyAnalytics with Workplace Analytics. This all creates a tool that can give managers valuable insights into the wellbeings of their employees.
- Cisco: Cisco’s WebEx tool has implemented a tool called People Insights that can provide data on individual employees, your whole team, or the entire workplace.
- Google: Google is also pursuing wellness by helping employees become more aware of their stress levels.
Do We Need to be Told We are Stressed?
It might sound like common sense to know when we are stressed, but it’s not always so simple. Sometimes it takes a notification to snap us back to reality, especially when we are in the midst of an intense work session.
Most of your employees are in tune with their own emotions, but others might not be so keen to admit when they are feeling stressed or anxious. They might have an unhealthy relationship with their work to the point where they can become too absorbed in it and fail to respond to their own emotions. When this happens, it’s important that they know it’s time to take a step back and destress for a moment. Encouraging them to do so is in the best interest of your company, as stressed-out employees are less likely to do their best work.
Do you think this technology has a place in the workplace, or do you think it’s superfluous and unnecessary? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.