First Apple Inc. rolled out iPhone software to fight screen addiction. Now Microsoft Corp. is offering business software to help restore work-life balance.
Microsoft's MyAnalytics programme - part of its Office cloud software - allows employees to track metrics like how much time they spend in meetings or use email. It already knows when someone is working outside of normal business hours, but now it will also indicate how many so-called "quiet days" the user has, meaning days when employees successfully unplug after work. People will also be able to set goals to increase the number of those kind of days. Think of it as a fitness tracker but for your sanity.
Soon the programme will also help users schedule "focus time" to hone in on certain projects uninterrupted and it will tell co-workers not to bug. If focus time gets intruded upon anyhow, a feature in Outlook calendar will suggest alternate free times to focus.
Microsoft is famous for having too many meetings and Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella knows how much that can hurt worker productivity. One of his earliest actions after becoming CEO in 2014 was to give employees permission to just decline. Nadella himself uses these kinds of tools to rigorously track his schedule to avoid time wasted. Still, like many such alerts, they only help if the user pays heed - it's all too easy to ignore.