New 'Moodbeam' wristband lets your employer track whether you are happy

·Contributor
The wristband tracks the emotional health of employees (Moodbeam)
The wristband tracks the emotional health of employees. (Moodbeam)

A new Fitbit-like wristband tracks the emotional health of its wearer, allowing employers to check if remote workers are happy or not.

The wristband connects to an emotion dashboard that lets bosses see whether teams of remote workers are coping with the stress of work and the pandemic.

The gadget has two buttons – yellow for happy and blue for sad – and employees are encouraged to ‘log’ their emotions over the course of the working week, the BBC reported.

The company said: “Moodbeam is a complete solution, helping you map the happiness across your people and teams, driving positive change and improved wellbeing.”

The silicone wristband launched in 2016 as a consumer product, but is now being targeted at businesses dealing with large numbers of remote workers.

Read more: Privacy fears over employers monitoring workers with software

Moodbeam co-founder Christina Colmer McHugh told the BBC: “Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home.

“Here they can ask 500 members 'You ok?' without picking up the phone.”

The Hull-based firm said its test data showed that people were happy to share data about their emotional state.

"We moved away from anonymous to identifiable data after trials found that people do want to be identified,” McHugh said.

The gadget records a ‘happiness score’ for workers, allowing employers to swiftly target problems.

The Moodbeam happiness score is generated for individuals, teams or groups, and the organisation as a whole and adapts to reflect the chosen date range,” the company said.

“Compare the happiness score across selected groups such as teams, locations, gender, ethnicity, new starters, or any other chosen groupings.”

Read more: Is your employer spying on you?

During the pandemic, privacy organisations and data regulators have warned about employers using controversial surveillance software to check home workers are at their desk.

Demand for such software has spiked in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with one company, Hubstaff, reporting a three-times increase in demand last year.

Other software such as Time Doctor, ActivTrak and StaffCop also helps employers keep tabs on home workers, Wired reported.

A spokesman for the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) told the Sunday Telegraph last year: “People expect that they can keep their personal lives private and that they are also entitled to a degree of privacy in the workplace.

“If organisations wish to monitor their employees, they should be clear about its purpose and that it brings real benefits.

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Privacy groups have warned that companies are increasingly able to insist on the use of such software, as employees worry about their jobs.

“It’s increasingly hard to say no,” said Eva Galperin, cyber security director at the California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) group.

“In this economy, what are your other options, when there’s 20% unemployment? It can be very coercive.”

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