Elevators have long been a mixing bowl of a company’s social hierarchy. In the steel box with sliding doors, everyone is equal. But now two companies are promoting new automated systems that route riders for greater efficiency and less wait time, but also in other more dynamic ways. The system can be configured to prevent employees from two different companies in the same building from ever riding together, or keep low-level employees from mixing with CEOs and delivering the dreaded “elevator pitch.” As the Wall Street Journal reports:
Elevators now route employees, sometimes according to rank. They can help corporations keep track of who is in the office and who isn’t. They can be programmed so that a germophobe can simply wave an ID card in front of a reader and be shuttled to the proper floor without actually touching a button. They can redirect an unsuspecting employee to a different floor at the request of the boss.
That last point is particularly chilling. As if employees already didn’t fear the head honchos enough, one day you enter the elevator and find yourself and the boss’ doorstep without any clue how you got there.
Two other surprising conclusions made by the report is that existing elevators employ many tricks to keep people occupied while waiting, and from talking with one another. For instance, mirrors distract riders by hoping they’ll be more concerned with their own appearance than other travelers. Most of the time, the “close door” button is also just there as a distraction, and only works in certain modes.
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