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“游戏化”办公时代即将来临?

更新时间:2014-1-15 20:15:16 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

The 'Gamification' of the Office Approaches
“游戏化”办公时代即将来临?

Is your job a game? Should it be?

Imagine if at the office you were made to feel like you were playing 'Candy Crush Saga.' Envision that every one of your professional endeavors was meticulously tracked and measured in points, that there were levels to complete and you were given prizes for excellence. That every workplace action provided a tangible sensation of winning or losing as part of a system engineered to keep you addicted, thrilled to come back every morning.

If your job worked like that, would you become a better employee? Or would you feel just the opposite-crushed by metrics, constantly watched over, infantilized by your boss's attempt to turn you into an automaton?

I'm asking you as if your opinion here matters. In fact, it does not. All evidence suggests that your work one day will operate like a videogame to be conquered, rather than a craft to be perfected.

The high-level name for this trend is 'gamification,' an ugly neologism that has seen terrific hype and terrific backlash in Silicon Valley over the past few years. The term refers to transferring the features that motivate players in videogames-achievement levels, say, or a constantly running score-into nongame settings. Gamification systems are possible because much of what we do in the workplace is conducted through software that can track our productivity, constantly measure our value and apply incentives that prod us to do better.

At the moment, the stats on gamification's effectiveness are murky. There are several startups pushing the idea, and they could offer me only the barest evidence that gamelike systems might significantly improve how people work. But some gamification companies have grown rapidly, especially in systems for workers in sales and customer service.

Their nascent success should be a warning to us all: If you work in the information business; if you sell, market, create, track or are involved in any other endeavor that can be quantified, gamification is coming for you.

I, for one, am dreading it.

It's no surprise that salespeople will be the first guinea pigs.

'Sales guys tend to be competitive by nature,' says Steve Sims, the vice president of solutions and design at the gamification-software company Badgeville. People in sales are used to thinking of their trade as a game. It's not unusual for them to compete for monthly incentives and to see their performance ranked on a company leaderboard.

Badgeville's software, which plugs into sales-management systems such as Salesforce.com's, simply adds sophistication to the old sales-rank whiteboard in the break room.

Here's one scenario Sims describes. 'Sometimes sales guys tend to not care about the details, they just want to close the deal and get the money,' he says. Managers, meanwhile, might want salespeople to do more: accurately enter their clients' information into a sales tracker, assess the quality of sales leads or track how often they are going to sales meetings. Badgeville's software can give points to salespeople who add in that information, turning what would otherwise be an annoying part of their jobs into a point of competition.

Getting people to do things they don't really want to do turns out to be a key mission of workplace gamification. Last fall, American Express Co.'s business-travel booking office teamed up with Badgeville on software that gives employees incentives like points and virtual goods when they abide by managers' travel preferences. Badgeville says that in one test deployment, among employees of software company Citrix Systems, the system yielded positive results, if just slightly. In the first month of using the service, Citrix experienced a 4% increase in employee bookings with preferred airlines and a similar shift to bookings made further in advance.

There are lots of similar scenarios where such systems might subtly influence the choices that employees make. Gamelike techniques are being used to push employees to live healthier lifestyles (your company might give you a wearable health tracker that awards badges for your weekend activity), collaborate with their co-workers (get badges for engaging with the office-based social network) and improve interpersonal skills (customers and co-workers might award you points for smiles).

Many of these sound benign. But what we can't tell is whether these measures are worth the cost-the psychic cost. What worries me is the potential for stifling creativity and flexibility in the workplace, and the growing sensation of being watched, and measured, in everything we do.

I've noticed this happen in my own field. Digital journalism has ushered in the era of quantified journalism, a field in which readership, social-media mentions and my bosses' return-on-investment on my work can be measured. I've been lucky to work at publications that don't overstress metrics. But still, the pressure to make the numbers has to be a part of every journalist's life these days. Every time I write a story that doesn't make the paper's most-popular list, I consider it a tiny failure. If I do that many times in a row, I begin to wonder if I should look for a new line of work.

You might say workers have always felt pressure to measure up to one benchmark or another. And perhaps gamification is better than other ways of altering what workers do, say, if your boss simply orders you to book all your travel two weeks in advance.

Gamification, for now, does at least have the veneer of being fun. But as it spreads through the workplace, covering all aspects of your job and life, I wonder how long the fun will last.

干工作就像是玩游戏?应该是这样吗?

想象一下,你在办公室干活时就像是在玩《糖果粉碎传奇》(Candy Crush Saga),你的每一项专业努力都会被严谨地追踪,并给出分数,每打一关,都会因为表现卓越获得奖品。公司的所有行动都让人有实实在在的输赢之感,而这正是旨在让你上瘾、激发你每天早上回来上班的系统的一部分。

如果有一份这样的工作,你会变成更上进的员工吗?还是恰恰相反──被标准化的要求摧残,时时刻刻受到监督,因老板想把你变成自动工具而被当成幼儿对待?

我这样问你,好像你的看法很重要似的,但实际上并不重要。所有证据表明,有一天你的工作会像一个需要通关的视频游戏,而不是一件有待完善的工艺品。

这种趋势的专业名词是“游戏化”,这个晦涩的新词过去几年在硅谷被大炒特炒,同时也受到强烈抵制。它指的是把视频游戏中激励玩家的那些指标(如过关水平或累计得分)拿到游戏外。实现工作体系的游戏化之所以可能,是因为我们在公司做的许多工作都是通过软件完成的,这些软件可追踪我们的干活效率,频繁衡量我们的价值,并采取激励机制来敦促我们更上一层楼。

有关“游戏化”有效性的数据目前还不明朗。现在有几家力推这个概念的初创企业,而它们几乎拿不出能证明那些系统可显著改善人们工作方式的证据。但一些致力于搞游戏化系统的公司发展迅速,特别是在研发针对销售人员和客户服务的系统方面。

它们这种崭露头角的成功应该是对所有人的一个提醒:如果你在信息行业内工作,或者从事销售、市场营销、发明创造、追踪或其它任何可被量化的工作,你就会面临工作的“游戏化”。

我个人对此是诚惶诚恐。

毫不奇怪,销售人员将是第一批接受试验的“小白鼠”。

“游戏化”软件研发公司Badgeville负责解决方案和设计的副总裁西姆斯(Steve Sims)说,销售人员一般有好胜的天性。从事销售的人习惯于把自己的工作看作是玩游戏,他们为月奖争得头破血流,看到自己的业绩登上公司排行榜,这不是什么稀罕事。

Badgeville的软件可被植入一些销售管理系统(比如Salesforce.com的系统),但不过是让休息室里以前那块销售排行榜的黑板显得更先进了而已。

以下是西姆斯描绘的一种情形。他说:有时候销售人员可能不在乎细节,他们只想达成交易,拿到钱。与此同时,管理者可能希望销售人员做更多的事:在销售跟踪系统中准确地输入客户的信息,评价销售领先产品的质量,或追踪其参加销售会议的频率。Badgeville的软件能向输入这类信息的销售人员奖励分数,将这项原本令人讨厌的工作内容变成一个竞争的热点。

让人们去做他们不想做的事,事实证明这是职场游戏化的一项重要任务。去年秋天,美国运通(American Express Co.)的商务旅行预订办公室与Badgeville就一款软件进行合作,当员工选择管理者倾向的旅行方案时,这款软件会向员工奖励分数和虚拟商品等。Badgeville说,在对软件公司思杰系统公司(Citrix Systems)员工进行的一项测试中,该系统取得了积极结果。在使用该服务的第一个月,思杰员工预订公司首选航空公司的人次就增加了4%,提前预订的情况也出现了类似改观。

有很多类似的情形,这类系统可能会微妙地影响员工做出的选择。游戏式技术被用于推动员工拥有一种更加健康的生活方式(你的公司可能给你一个可穿戴健康跟踪器,会因你周末的活动而奖励你徽章),与同事进行合作(参与基于办公室的社交网络也可获得徽章),以及提升人际交往能力(客户和同事可能因为你的微笑而奖励你分数)。

其中有很多听起来都是有益的。但我们不知道的是这些措施是否值得付出那样的代价──精神上的代价。让我感到担心的是这可能扼杀职场中的创造力和灵活性,而且还日益感觉做任何事时都会被监控、被评价。

我注意到在我自己的领域出现着这样的情况。数字新闻学开启了量化新闻学时代。在这个领域,读者人数、社交媒体提及次数和我的老板们在我工作上的投资回报都可以被衡量。我很幸运供职的出版物不过于强调这些数据。但如今实现良好数据的压力必须是每位记者生活的一部分。每次我写的文章没有进入报上最热门文章之列时,我都会认为是一次小小的失败。如果连续很多次这样,我会开始怀疑我是否应该改行干别的。

你可能会说,工作的人一直会感到压力,因为要达到这样或那样的标准。相比其他改变员工行为的方式,游戏化或许更好,前提是如果你的老板只是命令你提前两周预订所有旅行的话。

目前,游戏化至少表面看起来是有趣的。但随着它在职场传播开来,涵盖你工作和生活的方方面面,我怀疑这种乐趣能够持续多久。

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