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Tesco Monitors Employees With Motorola Armbands

Employees replenishes bread stocks in the bakery at a Tesco Metro store in London
Employees replenishes bread stocks in the bakery at a Tesco Metro store in LondonPhotograph by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

There’s a fine line between micromanaging and house arrest, and British grocery store chain Tesco seems determined to cross it. According to the Irish Independent, employees at the company’s Dublin distribution center are forced to wear armbands that measure their productivity so closely that the company even knows when they take a bathroom break.

The armbands, officially known as Motorola arm-mounted terminals, look like something between a Game Boy and Garmin GPS device. The terminals keep track of how quickly and competently employees unload and scan goods in the warehouse and gives them a grade. It also sets benchmarks for loading and unloading speed, which workers are expected to meet. The monitors can be turned off during workers’ lunch breaks, but anything else—bathroom trips, visits to a water fountain—reportedly lowers their productivity score. Tesco did not respond to requests for comment, so it’s hard to know if the arm bands have been a success.