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Can’t we begin in peace?


Screenshot by ZDNet

How do you begin your day?

Do you start up your laptop and then squint as tightly as you can?

I fear that’s the modus operandi of many an employee who wakes in the morning and worries about what the (work)day may bring.

The secret, therefore, is to ease gently into the day. Stare a moment at your serene desktop. Then spend a few minutes on sites that you know will bring cheer. None of them are, of course, news sites. Or work sites. 

Perhaps checking your personal email might bring you a little joy.

What I suspect you don’t want is your desktop being invaded with a message from your employer.

But here is Microsoft gleefully promising just such a concept.

As my colleague Mary Jo Foley reported, one of Microsoft’s latest fun, fine wheezes is to soon allow IT admins to do something not everyone will adore.

She writes: “IT can send targeted messages to employees on their Windows 11 desktops or right above the taskbar.”

Lordy, please no.

You’ve opened your laptop and you instantly see: “Hey, Pete from corporate IT admin here. You’ve been using a forbidden app, haven’t you?” Or perhaps: “Heyyyyy, you didn’t forget your corporate self-denial training today, did you?”

And this is just above your little app icons.

Is nothing sacred? Is no tiny element of technological space immune from the corporate nag, the corporate squeeze, the corporate sell, or the corporate entreaty?

Of course, I understand why corporations might want to do this. There’s nothing more stirring than being able to get into your employees’ virtual faces in an instant.

Who can forget Microsoft using similar targeted messages to encourage the Windows faithful to use Microsoft Edge? (Not everyone loved that idea.)

Microsoft’s principal group product manager for Windows, Heena Macwan, put it like this: “With the shift to hybrid workplaces, we can see that organizations need to better connect with employees in a way that is tailored to individual situations.”

Some individual situations are blessedly personal. Do they need to be so instantly polluted?

I know, I know. You’ll tell me that personal (work) communication is the essence of (work) life. You’ll tell me IMs fly all day anyway, so what’s one more intrusion?

Perhaps it’s that working from home has made the corporate invasion a little more complete.

If your employer can spy on you at home, judge your interior design and even comment on your choice of dog, what part of you hasn’t been sold for the price of a salary?

Wouldn’t it be at least equitable if employees could send IT admin such personal desktop Windows 11 notifications?

Ones that might read: “Hey, please don’t bother me today. OK?”



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