Wearable technology has the ability to transform the workplace. The data derived from it can help us gain a better understanding of what we do and how we can do it better.
Wearable tech is already used by millions of people worldwide, primarily helping them to better manage their fitness, sleep, and health. In the workplace, it has the potential to revolutionize employee health and safety outcomes, as well as helping employees manage their time more efficiently. But what do the experts say?
Depending on the tech, it affords real-time access to your employees. Now, how companies use that access can, and should, be debated. The friendliest approach, though, could be for internal communication. By leveraging push notifications and wearable technology, companies could put together internal communications to keep employees informed about a new employee referral program, a new Snapchat handle or the ice cream party at 3pm.
Productivity. Wearable, perhaps even embedded, tech will give people and organizations the type of activity/productivity data we’ve never had access to before. We will be able to know which actions, movements or behaviors correlate to performance, theoretically leading to improvements in recruitment, training and retention. All available in real time, so interventions could be staged immediately. Organizations will be able to behave much more like organisms by plugging everyone into the company matrix – we can expect productivity to dramatically improve.
Apple Watch and potential future tech of having ‘implanted’ wearables will further disrupt the way work is done – wearables will be integrated with the ‘robots’ and a talk and touch interaction with technology will be the norm.
The demands of our work take on many different forms so the smart devices (like IoT technology) are limited only by our imaginations (and our data plans). I agree with The Guardian in that I see the sharing and tracking of information as the easiest ROI of wearable tech, up to and including individual employee implants for security, data storage and to enable secure purchasing, wellness, and commerce. Yes, it’s creepy. But only because we can’t see the benefits beyond it, yet…
The benefits of wearable tech in the workplace really depends on the type of tech and it’s intended usage. Eye/head wearables mean greater collaboration possibilities and greater access to additional relevant information more quickly to help improve decision making. Health trackers can monitor well-being and provide vital intel on employee wellness at work. According to Forbes, the business benefits of something like Hitachi’s Business Microscope make it an attractive productivity intelligence tool, but employees might consider it too “big brother” for it to go mainstream.
The best use case I can give for wearable technology at work is that of an employee working in an Amazon fulfillment center. In the past, employees would need to hold an iPad with the information that told them where they needed to go to pick and pull items from the shelves. Today, they wear glasses that gives them that information, which frees up both hands.