Be careful, the phone booths have eyes. Or ears, it turns out. And they’re hooked up to an algorithm.

In office spaces, a new type of cubicle has started cropping up over the past decade— phone booths that provide a slice of isolation for employees who want to escape from the open-floor plan. The co-founders of phone-booth maker Framery launched this concept in 2010 so they could concentrate without always having to hear their boss on calls. Since then, Framery has stretched across the corporate world with clients like NVIDIA, Microsoft, and Postmates.

Now, a new version of the pods appears set to chip away at the very thing they were made to preserve: privacy.

Engineers at Framery have been experimenting with a new version of their furniture that is able to track workers’ heart rate and breathing, reports Matthew Boyle of Bloomberg’s Work Shift. But the breakthrough, which Framery claims is intended  to quell burnout, is raising inevitable concerns about being used for other purposes.

“The idea of having an early-warning signal on the sentiment of an organization — it’s quite interesting,” Samu Hällfors, Framery co-founder and CEO, told Boyle. But while it might be an interesting product, it also could be an unlawful one. While Framery says it tested its product on its own employees this past year, the company has yet to unveil the new isolation pod to the public. Concerns regarding workers’ health privacy mean the company might not even roll out the product, the CEO said.

“Whether we offer it to our customers is still undecided,” Hällfors said of his new product. Regarding privacy issues, “There is so much we have not figured out,” he told Bloomberg..

“There are so many things wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start,” Donna M. Ballman, an employment lawyer and author of Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired, tells Fortune.

The (potentially privacy-violating) conceit is that measuring workers’ bodily response is a different, likely better way of understanding the general morale than a questionnaire. “Organizations do employee engagement surveys just twice a year. What if we could give you a heads-up early on?” Hällfors wonders.

The idea for the product began in Framery Labs as someone thought of monitoring an employee’s laughter in the phone booth, Boyle writes. That seed somehow shifted to become installing “pressure-sensitive foil into the pod’s seat” with sensors that are able to track “blood pumping through buttocks,” Boyle explains. An algorithm then reads these results and supposedly is able to detect how agitated the worker is. The data is anonymous and not tied to a specific worker, according to Hällfors. Of course, you could just ask an employee how they are instead of asking their butt, but that’s a different story.

Even if it sounds apocalyptic, Ballman points out that in corporate America, this kind of thing could float. “There are very few laws giving employees of private employers any privacy rights at work,” Ballman says, adding that California is an exception. Even so, many union contracts protect workers from this level of monitoring, and any employer with a unionized workforce would have to bargain with them before implementing said level of surveillance.

But even without a union in the picture, Framery’s clients could be in choppy waters if they choose to use this pod. The monitoring could expose a worker’s undisclosed disability, a pregnancy, or a genetic condition, and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and state disability discrimination laws, explains Ballman. Health privacy laws could also be in play, and, As Boyle points out, states including Illinois and Washington have expanded their health-privacy laws in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Speaking of clients that have been fired because they seem unhappy or not enthusiastic enough, Ballman says this could feed into this phenomenon as employers could let go of workers that the product deems to be depressed or seemingly unsatisfied.“This kind of monitoring will definitely be abused,” she says.

Framery’s CEO claims to be focused on burnout prevention. It is an increasingly trending topic since the pandemic ebbed, as job satisfaction remains low and retention rates stay high for stressful jobs from teaching to health care. The workforce is strained, as Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Trends report predicts that almost 82% of employees are at risk of burnout this year. Framery did not respond to a request for comment.

And there’s another trend that the proposed phone booth fits into: employee monitoring. As workers went remote, executives have found new and creative ways to still keep tabs on their staff. Some paranoid bosses have turned to keyboard tracking devices to gauge productivity, as the New York Times reported that J.P. Morgan, Barclays, and UnitedHealth Group all use said software. This type of reach tends to backfire, as 41% of employees report feeling less productive when monitored, according to a Glassdoor survey in 2023. Employees don’t take too kindly to being stalked—it can lead to them quitting their jobs, feeling irritated or more stressed, or even stealing office equipment. Workers have become more jaded, as they lose faith in almost every profession, per a Gallup poll.

“Employers are increasingly becoming busybodies over all aspects of employees’ lives,” Ballman states, adding that people even track workers in company cars. “It’s terrible for morale and it certainly creates an us-versus-them mentality in the workplace. Then employers wonder why employees are increasingly unwilling to do extra work, give notice when quitting, and have any feeling of loyalty toward their employers.”

A product like this and the broader movement to watch workers more closely “will definitely propel the movement toward more labor unions as employees become more frustrated with employer nonsense,” she adds.

The proposed booth might be simply taking it a step too far before even leaving the gate. “What is in employees’ brains and bodies is the final frontier in the erosion of employee rights. At some point, employers will push so much that we’ll finally start seeing some pro-employee laws in this country,” Ballman says.

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