back to article AI and wearables are scaring the wellbeing out of workers

A survey of UK workers suggests that quality of life declines as exposure to newer technology including wearables, robotics, and AI rises in the workplace. The study, published by the Institute for the Future of Work (IFOW), quizzed thousands of workers to come up with its conclusion, which it said has significant implications …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who would want to wear

    a Penal Tracking Bracelet ?

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: Who would want to wear

      Just put it on the cat

    2. Jedit Silver badge

      Re: Who would want to wear

      Who would need to? I always know where my peen is.

  2. Julian 8 Silver badge


    "Employers who don't want an office filled with miserable drudges should involve everyone affected by new technologies in the implementation process, and ensure they have access to information needed to help them understand the role such technology will play in their work"

    Employer: Here is a watch for you to wear

    Employee: I stopped wearing a watch during Covid, why would I want a watch ?

    Employer: some babble about health or using it instead of simply getting the phone out of your pocket: (It is to track you)

    Employee: So what you really mean is that you don't trust me. Right I'm off.

    Employer: Can you install Office on your phone so we can contact you 24x7

    Employee: Nope

    Employer: Here is a phone so we can contact you 24x7

    Employee: Here is my desk drawer where this phone will live until you want it back

    Employer: what if we need to contact you outside of the office or office hours

    Employee: you can't and you won't

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: dunno

      Employer: what if we need to contact you outside of the office or office hours?

      Employee: Will you be paying me to be able to contact me outside of working hours?

      Employer: Nope.

      Employee: Good luck with that then.

  3. ThatOne Silver badge

    Kind of obvious, isn't it

    "quality of life declines when people are threatened to lose their livelihood".

    What a surprise!... It is also pointless, because the bosses having drunken the "AI" Kool-Aid will push it through no matter what, there are juicy bonuses to be had. It doesn't matter if AI works or is fit for purpose, what matters is the momentary reduction of the wage bill, the resulting stock price hike, and the resulting bonus.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Would you agree to work while wearing chains and be watched by an overseer reporting to the slave master?

    What if chains and overseer were invisible?

    There is your answer.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unproductive or improperly taxed

    It is suspicious that with all the automation life is seemingly getting harder for working people. Alternative explanations are: workers are getting lazier, or it is hard to compete against extremely motivated billion-headcount Asian workforce.

    Maybe what is really happening is that majority of jobs do not add any value. Or they are mostly sales of goods produced in China. How many jobs are gov-funded sector moving paper? Is real estate properly taxed? Are nurses getting paid what they deserve? Are too complex laws and regulations mostly benefiting an army of lawyers, who produce nothing to actually consume? Or bankers "managing risks". What about managing actual production of goods? Should actual makers pay ZERO tax? How come all factories have moved to Asia?

    It is time to collect economy statistics of where actual value is added and start major reforms.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Unproductive or improperly taxed

      Alternative explanations are: workers are getting lazier, or it is hard to compete against extremely motivated billion-headcount Asian workforce.

      I think it is neither.

      C suites are getting paranoid, they are scared of losing and they need something to back up their decisions with. They think the more data they have, the more accurate decisions they can make.

      This actually reveals insecurity and lack of trust to ones ability to steer the ship.

      They think if they know how many keystrokes employee makes daily and how long they poo and see if there is correlation between Pizza Fridays and premium coffee beans and the number of tickets moved to Done, then they can figure out what can nudge workers into getting that 5% more and then sacrifice some profits for more future gains.

      But everyone knows this is all bollocks and simply plays into their vanity.

      If they want people to be more productive they should pay people more, so they can actually live decently and not spend their brain time on worrying and then stop hiring idiots. Have a strong policy against toxic behaviour and ruthlessly enforce it.

      Employee worrying about another unpaid bill or contemplating whether to repair the leaky roof or finally go on holiday somewhere nice is not going to pay attention and be creative. They will see their opulent office, overhear the accounts talking about another £1bn won contract and then they see their reality at home. Upset wife, mold, teenage child not having own room.

      Now imagine you put an AI tracker on such employee. WTF.

    2. Lurko

      Re: Unproductive or improperly taxed

      How come all factories have moved to Asia?

      Because China is very accommodating to economic growth and new infrastructure that supports it

      Because labour rates are lower reflecting lower standards of living

      Because energy is cheap as they happily build hundreds of new coal fired power stations

      Because there's no costly burdens like Western rules on environmental reporting, costly archaeological surveys, environmental impact assessments for new construction and the like

      Because pollution rules are weak and very poorly enforced

      Because labour rights are minimal

      Because whilst paid leave, maternity leave etc do exist, they are nothing like as generous as in the West

      Because there's not the expensive social safety net seen in most of the EU and the UK

      Because local tax rates are (in net terms) lower because China's government spends far less of GDP than the EU, UK or US governments.

      In terms of whether jobs are value adding, how do you propose to judge? You imply lawyers are not value adding for example. But having a reliable, competent, fair legal system is essential to underpin all contracts, property rights, civil and employment rights. If government spends say 35% of GDP, then how does that actually happen if there's none of the paper-pushers whom you deride? If sales add no value, why are salesmen usually well paid? And assuming the pay is an aberration, how would the economy function without anyone to facilitate sales? What value do you think lawyers, nurses or salesmen put on the IT guys?

      Your concern that the West has hollowed out its economies is well founded, and the call to "do something" is reasonable, but if the problem is increasing dependence on imports, and an out of control balance of payments, then there's two options: The economy either needs to compete on a level playing field with China (ie goodbye all those nice labour, social and environmental niceties, hello low pay and long working hours), or it needs to restrict some imports and accept the economic cost of paying more for certain products and materials. I can't see either of those being popular, added to which most Western governments of all political colours earnestly believe that free trade and handing things to the private sector is a win-win for everybody.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

    ... treating employees like human beings, that is madness! - Montgomery C. Burns

    1. Bendacious

      Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

      Your AI supervisor knows it's C. Montgomery Burns and docks you two food credits. Hunger is a great teacher.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

        I remember my days of homeless and hunger. It is indeed a great teacher. But I don't think I learned the lesson the masters wanted me to learn.

        Not even close.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

      * Crapitalism


    3. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

      You think a communist society wouldn't do the same or worse?

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

        Ah, yes, the only alternative to failing capitalism is failing communism. Social Democracies exist, you know?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Capitalism is back, with a vengeance.

          And how would you define a social democracy as this third way?

  7. chololennon

    Wellbeing over productivity

    "In organizations with HR philosophies that emphasize employee wellbeing over productivity, there was a positive correlation with quality of life..."

    As a software developer who has been in the IT industry for more than 3 decades, I want to know where those organizations are. I am not saying they are not exist, but, really, my experience has been productivity over anything else (especially nowadays, in the era of agile methodologies)

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Wellbeing over productivity

      I think you need to look for companies that don't have HR for starters.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Wellbeing over productivity

        Where might one find such a company in 2020s late-stage capitalism?

  8. Securitymoose
    Thumb Up

    What about civil service jobs?

    With that bloated army of penpushers talking about striking because they are asked to go back into the office for a couple of days a week, wouldn’t A.I. be the ideal tool to replace most of them while they are out? It gets my vote.

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