Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

February 20, 2018

Strava, the worldwide popular fitness application, mapped, unintentionally, the secret position of American soldiers in military bases of Syria and Afghanistan recently. It was a case of security failure among the company’s staff.

The technology is using the GPS mobile tracking system and it’s tracking its users only if they choose the option. The collection of data is forming the heat map which can easily show the users movements.

Is the future already happening?

This is just an extreme example of how wearables can affect our day jobs. And not in the good way. Being an American soldier is not common job, but if it can happen to them what are our prospects?

These devices and ideas seem futuristic, but they have been developed over the last fifty years.

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

Recent study showed an increase in productivity by 8.5 % and job satisfaction by 3.5 % among users of wearables in multiple ways. Furthermore, Dr Chris Brauer, the lead researcher of the project, concluded how the generated data can be used to learn how human behaviors impact

Employees can demand better working conditions, environments and hours based on the gathered data.

Around 202 Million devices were given out by companies to their employees in 2016, while it is predicted that this number will get the value of 500 Million by 2021.

How do employers see the potential of the Wearing Technology at Work?

Take a look.

These devices range from sensors measuring how long the staff spends at their desks to softwares that can take screenshots capturing in real time how they work. This technology is developing rapidly in all parts of human resources areas.

HR professionals, unions and lawyers will create ethical issues and employers should act quickly on figuring out what to do with these data, ethically and legally.

The whole script reminds on Orwell’s Big brother theme, doesn’t it?
Some of us may enjoy it, but most of us will not.
How would you feel about it?

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

Are there benefits of using trackers and wearables at work?

What is the ratio of joy vs. worry among employees who are using wearables on their jobs?

Is there a possibility of hacking attempts?

Let’s overview together the pros and cons of using wearables at the workplace!

Productivity, Efficiency, Time & Task management

Pros:

New tracking apps and devices are making employees aware of their efficiency & productivity through physiolitics – collected data from a wearable with feedback for improved performance. The awareness will lead to increase in their productivity over time. The Entrepreneur magazine recently demonstrated these findings. It will also help in building a community and health mindset.

The possibility of connecting the technology with movement offers additional advantage to the technology. It will be possible to measure time to complete the task as well as the quality of each task.

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

One of the apps is helping time management – Runrun.it. It monitors performance of the employees and enables them to take control of their tasks. They can even press START and STOP button in order to track the timing for certain task. Also, physiological parameters are measured like heart rate and brain activity allowing employees to evaluate the times they are the most and the least productive.

Being able to track movements enables to assure the safety of your employees too. For example, this useful when sales rep is entering unsafe territory. In the case of unexpected movements, the help can be on its way immediately. Other solutions offer similar protection, like Wearsafe – modern panic button.

Touch point enables stress relief in 30 seconds, Myo gives you control, Re-vibe gives you focus while Steer keeps you awake and alert in the jobs that require that and many other.

Cons:

There are multiple security issues with new technologies, especially with wearables. All the data that could be connected to computers is not anymore private data and becomes potential stolen data. We are talking about security and cyber security.

Manager from Bass & Associates:

Companies that deal with private information need to be extra vigilant when protecting that data. At Bass, our policies require that any portable device with storage capability be turned off and put away while in our work areas.

There is a possibility for multiple misuses of the following devices:

  1. Fitness bracelets → it can expose daily routine and be used as a tracker.
  2. Life bands → it can hack phone and track human behaviour.
  3. Shirt clips → expose health info to health related companies.
  4. Google glass → perverts can take images and videos of random people.
  5. Body sensors → it can cancel health insurance or increase your premium.
  6. Digital Pills → it can track most innate body facts and sell to pharma companies.
  7. Smart watches → as connected to phone, when lost can expose a lot of private data.

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

Now imagine, your boss is reading the data from your device. And that should be fine. Looking at the someone else’s computer may be legal, but morally wrong.

On the other side, employees could misuse the possibility by:

Communication and ethical culture of the company should be discussed and decided before the device adoption.

Corporate wellness enables well being of employees

Pros:

Technology is affecting every segment of our lives and so is influencing health. Amazon and Apple have recently adjusted to this trend.

2015 study announced that slightly more than half of the employees who started using health apps continue wearing them after six months. In the same study, 95% of the employers will continue the program of offering wearables to their employees due to high interest.

It is not easy to introduce health tracking devices among your employees. There needs to exist a plan. Here are a few ideas.

Usually, the FitBit use is not obligatory. The company is only helping employees to get into health programs and as a benefit they offer one of the tracking devices. Some companies are using incentives for employees who use devices, but do not pay participation. Other companies subside the costs for spouses or other family members of their employees.

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

Most of the companies are tracking:

All in all, the employees are healthier and happier with lower number of sick days and doctor visits.

Cons:

There is huge concern that data will be misused by health insurance companies or by the boss.

Bank of America is participating in reducing fear and negative aspects through communication and assurance as well as not increasing the rates for premium insurance rates. They are ensuring the data is safe with them.

Another big concern of devices affecting the health is that they will have the similar destiny as gym memberships or home treadmills, abandoned and not used.

People need incentives.

Wearables In The Workplace Are Your New Best Friend

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:

When it comes to health promotion programs, it’s wise to avoid the “build it and they will come” strategy. A wealth of research tells us that people need motivation to adopt healthier behaviors and, especially in the early stages. Employee incentives can jump-start participation in programs and can encourage workers to complete health risk assessments (HRAs), quit smoking, exercise more, or lose weight.

Job satisfaction

Pros:

NEUROERGONOMICS is a new method of trying to use physiological data (measured by wearable) for the workplace evaluation. Physiological data is gathered in a relevant environment without distracting the subject under observation. This process is a balance between the human need and the quality of task being performed.

Orion Labs and OnBeep are offering easier communication among team members by using mixture of walkie talkies and 2-way radios (transmits and receives the signal). CommBadge depends on Bluetooth 4.0 speakerphone technology as headset replacement. In store communication with walkie talkies is replaced by new generation of wearables – Container Store wearables.

Cons:

Even though corporate employees have a clear vision of wearable value at work, they are afraid of technology taking over their lives. Aside from its main purpose, the wearables will enable installation of many other apps and games that can be a distraction from work. In percentages, this comes to the third place after security invasion and invading the privacy:

Wearables that Save lives

Pros:

Employee health is no longer a personal problem. The cost of healthcare makes an employee health a business priority.

Zensorium is a smartwatch that can reveal increased blood pressure and send an instant message with a suggestion to take a break. It can even guide the user to deep breathing exercises to help them calm down. SmartCap is measuring the monitors brainwaves for fatigue in drivers and operators of heavy machines.

Sensors in the helmets of NFL players measure the force of the impacts. The goal is to reduce the long term traumatic brain injury.

Cons:

There is a lack of encryption of the devices, among all other insecurities mentioned previously. This can be misused by the third parties in multiple ways.

The short battery life of the devices can be revised additionally. In the best conditions it will last for maximum of 3h. If you imagine using a wearable that may save your life, this issue should be reevaluated once again.

Useful innovation of wearables at work

For the most of them you have not even though about.

1.Pet wearables are very applicable for all the jobs that include pets.
2.Wearable chairs and bionic pants

3.Job application procedure can be simplified
4.Other wearable innovations that will make work easier:

via GIPHY

5.Spies can spy on themselves 🙂 Director of the of the Office of National Intelligence (ODNI) wants to track its own agents and pick up the best for the task.

Are we using all the data efficiently?

Data collected by Humanyze are not transferred directly to companies. They sign a consent with end users as well as the consent that they will not distribute their data to third parties. There are current laws to follow, only in the UK and the EU for now:

-UK’s Data Protection Act.
-EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Questions to Ask

Robert Half Technology offers three questions for leaders to consider when evaluating whether to support wearables for the business:

Will this implementation enhance our business and/or productivity?

Are we aware of security risks and is the company equipped to handle them?

Have we prepared a sound policy, communication plan, and training strategy around wearable technology at the office?

How about your company?

Are you ready to start using wearables in your company and for which application?

We would like to hear your perspective on this.

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