motion sensor

"Just popping to the loo."

BCLP has installed motion sensors under its lawyers' desks.

The 'occupancy sensors' can identify whether a work station is being used by detecting movement and changes in temperature, and are advertised online as a way to identify staff "with high levels of mobility".

BCLP told lawyers that the sensors have been installed to "achieve the right mix of desk and meeting room usage", said a source. "They assure us that they are absolutely not being used to track whether people are coming into the office, despite the fact that all lawyers have assigned desks", said the insider.

BCLP declined to specify what the "right mix" of desk and meeting room was, or explain why it was so important that thermal and movement sensors had to be installed to monitor everyone's location. However, the firm rejected the suggestion that it was intended to record individual lawyers' levels of attendance at their desk.

"We’ve made it clear to the everyone that this is simply about workspace configuration and optimisation as we continue to learn how best to use our office space with the rising attendance", a BCLP spokesperson told RollOnFriday, adding that the sensors "do not record any personal data, just whether someone has sat at that seat". 

A source within BCLP told RollOnFriday that lawyers were sceptical about the innovation, which has proven controversial at other workplaces which have adopted it. One manufacturer, OccupEye, claimed there was "nothing to fear" when its system was adopted by the Daily Telegraph in 2016, and boasted that it would allow employers to measure how many people were at their desks, with "no more guesses based on coffee cups and coats on chairs!" The monitors were abandoned within days when furious journalists realised their breaks could be timed, and removed the sensors' batteries in protest.

However, the normalisation of remote working caused by Covid has prompted well-managed firms to consider what changes they need to make to their office set-ups, and an automated means of calculating how many people are where is appealing. It's just unfortunate the solution is a chilling dystopian nightmare one step removed from injecting staff with tracking chips.

Tip Off ROF


No name 25 February 22 09:10

Can companies stop with their obsessive need to monitor and control every little thing? Disgusting carry on. 

The Paginator 25 February 22 09:14

Gone are the days when you could hang your jacket on the back of your chair and sneak out for a few pints.

Anon 25 February 22 09:18

BCLP is also introducing new branding to support its motion sensors: 

War is peace. 
Freedom is slavery. 
Ignorance is strength. 

Anon 25 February 22 09:29

Linklaters did this a few years ago to capture data to feed in to the decision about how much floor space the new offices need. What percentage of your office space is being used and when is a perfectly reasonable thing to want to know, renting wasted space costs money!

Anon 25 February 22 09:30

It might have been noticed that no other law firm has done this.  It clearly looks bad.  There are clearly other, more proportionate  ways of monitoring office attendance.  Most firms use swipe card records which is a pre existing facility.  That is, if you care about staff morale and trust.   

Observant Observer 25 February 22 09:32

I don't want to live on this planet anymore, someone unplug the simulation. 

Desperate Dan 25 February 22 09:33

This is comedy gold in some respects.

There’s a partner in our team at BCLP who does virtually no work yet sits at his desk all day motionless like an Easter Island statue; the motion sensors will make no difference in his case

Lydia 25 February 22 09:34

Dreadful. They could just ask their staff - how many days a week are you in the office rather than snooping on them. If they do not link it to an individual (which seems very very unlikely that they do not) then they may be okay but under data protection law if they do or could then they have to do a privacy impact assessment first and tell the staff how the data will be used.


Also some people get up and down and go for a walk whilst thinking etc and others are stuck to the desk for 12 hours - people just differ

A wise man 25 February 22 10:01

The data from this exercise will make it into the metrics for bonuses and salary increases 

Direct action 25 February 22 10:04

Simples.  Actually, can we say that these days?  I think that Sergei has been rightly sanctioned, but the solution is simple enough, smash 'em up.  Let each destroyed piece of spyware be its own trophy.

Anon 25 February 22 10:17

I am thinking it is a good thing I didn't get a job here - got through to second interview and was gutted when it was a no from them but hindsight and all...

Crazy 25 February 22 13:03

When I first read this quickly, that sensors were to be placed underneath desks I was alarmed - do they also have cameras, was this a form of corporate upskirting?  Then it was laughable!  

If the people who wanted to know how much office space was used went into the office daily, they would see for themselves. Or they could just pull the data from the entry points into the office?  

Just scupper it … damage the sensors, get everybody to sit in everybody else’s chairs, take your dogs to the office, invite the IT and Facilities teams to use your office. 

Love to know how much it all costs. 




Anon 25 February 22 13:21

If I came into the office and found some Orwellian sensor on my desk, I would “accidentally” break it immediately.  Fully approve of the Telegraph employees who removed the batteries.

I already told HR to piss off when they wanted our time recording software to monitor our desktop activities to prevent us “losing” billable time.

Anonymous 25 February 22 14:43

You get them in some hot-desk offices, so people can quickly check a map on a screen on the way in to see where in the building has spaces. That can be pretty useful. This however seems like it's something else entirely.

Harpo Marx 25 February 22 15:22

Desperate Dan 25 February 22 09:33

LOL. We must be in the same team as there can’t possibly be two partners like this in the same firm. This sounds like the partner whose Skype activity light is always green … always. The joke in our team is that a pulse on the machine keeps the light green.

I love ROF. A great way to close the week.

Donnie Darko 25 February 22 15:38

@13:21: No you wouldn't matey. You'd harumph online then get on with the conveyancing work.

Anon 25 February 22 16:53

Is this measure really being put in place because of the vast amount of money spent on the new open-plan office just before the pandemic and now occupancy levels are significantly low?  

Grand Designs 25 February 22 18:26

Motion sensors below the desk?!?

The muppets in charge will get nothing but false readings because the desks and shelving in the new office are of such poor quality that they’re constantly in motion when in use or even when someone walks last. Even when simply writing notes in a notepad the desk wobbles back and forward as if there’s an earthquake. 

My 15 yo old crappy MFI desk I had when doing A levels is of better quality that the mdf rubbish we’ve got in this white elephant of an office. 


Former HSBC staffer 25 February 22 19:30

I used to work at HSBC when they moved the head office from London to Birmingham.  We had passes for entry but also a separate card that was a Bluetooth receiver.  The reason given was that if there was an emergency and we didn't make it out the fire service could find out.  Sadly, the staff were not actually as stupid as senior management thought and a Google search of the name on the receiver showed the company was a specialist in analysis of how long people spent at their desks.  Trust evaporated and, for this and many other reasons, the Birmingham head office was toxic beyond words.  I was glad to resign.

Trust and Confidence 25 February 22 23:19

BCLP staff should find other roles at other more deserving and trusting firms and vote with their feet and leave BCLP high and dry.

There’s already been a shed load of departures from BCLP due to the laughably-named Project Advance and I’m sure there will be a great many more now.

Former employee (disgruntled with ROF not BCLP) 26 February 22 01:24

Like usual this is a polarised ROF article which I think is both misleading and wildly damaging to those who invest huge efforts in getting things right. You know what, when you’re reconfiguring an office after two years of immense transformation - requiring constant pivoting given the changing vivid landscape, data is actually handy in helping you to get it right. BCLP is in a new building designed for pre pandemic life - but it’s still being completed. So fair play they want to assess how people use the building before finalising things. Of course ROFs take on this is a sinister, big brother is watching you vibe. Pls ROF consider the damage these pieces have to the facilities heroes who have kept us all going for the last two years - and who will be heavily involved in such projects.

In fairness, from working with those involved in the return to office strategies at this particular firm (people I utterly respect, with integrity - leaders and facilities teams who put an abundance of care and (quite literally) blood, sweat and tears into these efforts), this is one of several efforts to actually understand how the office is used so that, as reconfiguring is done (e.g. do *all* lawyers need their own desk) it’s actually informed instead of the usual finger in the air approach taken by so many firms. I remember a former firm installing webcams at lawyers desks so the lawyers could utilise the video capabilities of Skype for business (particularly valuable to connect with remote workers and those in overseas offices). People were up in arms because they thought this was about monitoring lawyers as they work. It wasn’t. So maybe we should cut these efforts some slack! Skewed articles like this are not particularly helpful. 

Anonymous 26 February 22 11:39

It's past time solicitors unionised and started going on strike when their firms pull stunts like this.

Anon 26 February 22 15:31


What utter tosh.

The ROF article isn’t directed at the facilities and support staff (who get shafted by law firm management and partners at the drop of a hat generally) but at the potentially questionable decision by management/the partners (and at BCLP it’s most likely just the management as the partners are usually the last to know about decisions of the firm) of installing motion sensors at desks. On any objective basis it is an odd decision and the reasoning is thin to say the least. 

if anyone would have a beef about this decision it’s the already overworked facilities and support staff who will have been told by management to install and maintain the ridiculous system; I’m sure with their already demanding workload the facilities people could well do without having to deal with another pointless BCLP wheeze (they’ve done enough pointless office and intra-office moves already).

I wager that the post was made by some flunky in management - some of the language looks like the weasel-speak we’ve seen recently. Partners need to wake themselves up and get a grip on what used to be a really good firm (pre-takeover) but is now rapidly becoming the conveyancing equivalent of the Mary Celeste with all the exits over the last 2 years.


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