The Crew app is insipid and shameful


One of the first things I noticed after being hired at the new job was thatt the schedule was missing. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t on the official computerized schedule yet and, for the first couple of weeks, couldn’t clock in or out without a manager’s thumbprint — the schedule just wasn’t posted or available two-thirds of the time, and one of the days it was up on the notice board, it was for the wrong week. This caused some problems, as you can probably imagine.

The answer I got when asking a couple of assistant managers about this was “are you on Crew?”

Crew is a messaging app of some sort, I was told, and it’s the best (and apparently the only) place to find the schedule. And someone sent me a text-message “invite” link so I could download the thing and sign on as an employee of this place.

The link didn’t work. Also, the Play Store page was missing, and there was no obvious explanation for this on the developer’s website. I did find some info about Crew being acquired by Square, which led me to half-heartedly guess that the Crew app had been pulled and my new coworkers were just using a legacy version. This was wrong, but no one else had any better explanation.

So for the next week or two, management had to either post a written schedule or get me a scratch-paper copy of my line on the schedule, which made them visibly uncomfortable. As a new guy my job security wasn’t much, and this wasn’t helping.

Eventually the Play Store page reappeared, still without explanation. I was the one who discovered this, because apparently I was the only one here looking into it. This suggested a few things about my new bosses’ competence and diligence…

Anyway, I got re-“invited” and was quickly underwhelmed. The app’s main function is basically a chat room, which is mostly used for management communications… and this pack of managers is reluctant to communicate.

Mostly, but not entirely. Some people use it to tell management they’re sick, which management responds to half the time with “you should have used the phone instead.” (“Because we aren’t constantly checking Crew” is the official explanation; “we don’t want other workers to get ideas” and “we don’t want an easily checkable time-stamped record” are other possibilities.) Some other people use it to nitpick each other’s work, and management seems to think that shouting out workers’ birthdays will build Team Spirit or something, and there have been a couple of short arguments…

There is an Announcements chat room which hasn’t been used since I started, and a separate off-topic chat room, called (maybe sarcastically) The Break Room, which at time of writing hasn’t been posted to for ten months. There’s also the capability to chat with only one or some of the other users; the last one that included me was two months ago. And no, this isn’t just me not being part of a clique; coworkers who want to keep in touch on social media have other options that aren’t moderated by their bosses.

The moderation is noticeably self-serving. Pissy little arguments by GIF are OK, maybe because they divide workers, and so are posts begging for more hours, but a couple of my more hot-headed former coworkers have vented about working conditions and mismanagement only to have their posts “removed by admin.” One manager accidentally double-posted something and moderated the second one, hoping we wouldn’t notice that one of our betters had made a mistake. One coworker posted about being sick, and instead of being told off as usual, his post was moderated. One stormy day last winter, a manager posted about not needing me that day, but not until after I’d left the house; when I got to work, she quickly deleted her post, even though I could still read it in my notifications and all she was hiding was the exact time stamp.

(Yes, there is a double standard in there. I don’t know whether it’s meant to keep us checking our notifications 24/7 or to save a manager the trouble of looking up a worker’s phone number, because I don’t know which layer of management it came from.)

There are emotes, so we can react to posts, and they’re curated for positivity and an unfailingly compliant Team Spirit. We can emote OK and Thanks bot not No; Mic Drop and High Five but not Huh? or Laughter; Like but not Dislike; Money but not Fun, Free Time or Life; Great Idea but not Shit.

(There is a Feel Better emote, so we can react in a team-spirit way to those “I’m sick” posts no one’s supposed to be making.)

There are also microtransactions — we can buy “gold stars” to give to our coworkers as a show of appreciation. No one does this.

And there’s location tracking, so we can see in the app which people are at work. No one uses this feature, either, as far as I know, but a few of my coworkers aren’t savvy enough to disable location tracking in their phone’s settings.

In summary, the main effect of this goddamned app from the workers’ perspective is to occasionally throw a push notification at me when I’m off the clock, and to give management an excuse not to post a physical schedule… or maybe hiding the schedule gives management an excuse to get us installing apps, because this isn’t the worst of them…

Categories: PiecesTags: ,

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