I've recently started as a Lecturer but have been with the same University on a fixed-term contract some time prior. My University is mainly using MS Teams as the official chat, e-mail, calendar and everything else integrated platform, the use of which has obviously increased heavily due to the currently work-from-home (WFH) policies. While I have received such a "analytics report" prior to WFH as well, I strongly suspect they have increased in frequency over the last couple of months (I haven't actually checked the date of every single report). These analytics are based on our online activity and contain assessments such as:
Your work patterns the last 4 weeks:
68% (time) Available to focus
This is the time you typically have leftover to focus on your tasks outside of meetings, emails, chats and calls.
15 Quiet Days
These are days without interruptions of meetings, emails, chats and calls outside your working hours set in Outlook.
Quiet hours pattern
Your work during quiet hours has increased from 0.5 to 2 hours over the past few weeks.
Time spent in email
Your email hours have increased from 2 to 7 hours over the past few weeks.
While I can understand the need for the University to hold records of our online communications (especially when e.g. students are involved) to protect itself and provide evidence in case of any disputes, these statistics and analytics feel invasive and make me extremely uncomfortable.
While some of my colleagues have a blanket concern about any of the data being collected ("as it could be used against us in any dispute with the Uni"); I am personally less worried about raw data justifiably collected, as I can offer my own interpretation of that if needed. However, the above analytics are done by an algorithm which (especially as somebody working with machine learning) I would never trust to evaluate something as subjective as research work. I am worried that the summary could give a false picture of my work. And being so closely monitored just feels uncomfortable. I.e. I don't understand how they measure "how much I work during quiet hours" (and can't find the info easily). I also tend to work well in "bursts" -- have some slow days and then work long and late several days in the row when I get in the "zone" (making the "quiet days" information of dubious benefit).
This becomes even more important now during the WFH times. I have some colleagues who are very reluctant about using any such services due to security reasons, and due to this I can't bring myself to properly encourage them to use the provided services. But using such services is one of the very rare things that alleviates and eases WFH for some of us (and has generally been well-accepted by most of my colleagues). Every time I have to use a collaborator's personal phone number to attempt instant communication (the equivalent of poking your head in somebody's office, which I would typically do by pinging somebody on Teams), I want to lecture them on how much more difficult they are making the WFH situation. On the other hand, every time I get yet another "analytics" e-mail, I want to follow their example, and only log in to official Uni services for 2 hours a week during the official team/school meetings, instead of begin available from morning to evening (my typical work hours).
So, my questions are:
- Is this appropriate, typical, allowed?
- How would I go about expressing my disapproval?
- Do you think I could influence all or any of this by expressing disapproval?
- (all this considering I am a very fresh Lecturer in a fairly new organisation still finding it's way, so I don't have leverage to kick up too much of a fuss)