Image: © Richard Croft

UK firms want to put microchips in their staff

What it means: Who fancies getting a microchip inserted into their hand? They’re small, niftily unobtrusive and allow you to open locked doors with a wave of your hand like a wizard. (It can’t be just us who would enjoy running around shouting ALOHOMORA right?) But microchips could also allow your boss to remotely monitor your every movement.

According to two firms that make microchips for humans, BioTeq and BioHack, lots of UK businesses are keen on the idea of chipping their staff. Being able to see how productive different staff are at different times could help them squeeze more work out of workers: by identifying slackers, say, or figuring out what helps and hinders productivity. (Work output improves after employees visit the coffee machine? Might be worth upping the weekly Nespresso order.)

These attempts to improve worker productivity won’t necessarily be bad for employees. Perhaps microchip data will convince employers that productivity goes up when everyone work shorter hours. And it would be nice to never have to remember to pack your access pass again. But being constantly under surveillance might stress a lot of people out, and therefore decrease their happiness at work. There’s also a danger that pushing people too hard into constantly maintaining peak productivity will eventually cause mass burnout.   

Besides, many people will think microchipping staff is creepy AF, regardless of the benefits. The Trade Union Congress (Britain’s biggest trade union), the Confederation of British Industry (which represents about 200,000 UK businesses) and several British politicians have all said they’re worried that microchipping staff will trample on workers’ rights and privacy.

Read our explainer on how technology changes workplaces.

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