Wearable technology in the workplace
wearable technology

Wearables are not just accessories or gadgets for fashion or fitness, but they actually are productivity tools for getting work done. Glasses, watches and body monitors all hold the potential of becoming powerful applications for the workplace. Many analysts believe it will be businesses that will drive the growing trend of wearables. The market for company-provided wearables will be larger than the consumer market in the next five years, because the number of jobs where people need to be able to work hands-free is vast.

The trend of employees to bring their own devices into the workplace (also well known as the BYOD movement) will rapidly evolve into employees wearing their own devices, and brings a whole new spectrum of new approaches to boost and enhance employee productivity in the workplace.

Value to the enterprise

In terms of the perceived value of wearables in the workplace, a survey shows that only 48% of US adults saw a workplace benefit from wearables, versus almost 96% in Mexico, 94% in China and 91% in India.

Another survery illustrates the adoption rate of wearables in the European organizations, where majority of organizations have started to implement (19%), in the midst of implementing (28%) or interested in implementing (34%) wearables in the office.

In terms of the value brought into the organizations by adopting the wearables, increased productivity is the most popular reason to do so (58%). This is followed by incorporating wearables in a broader BYOD programme (52%), a staff well being program (32%), or a business insurance program (27%).

Actually, one can list the many ways in which wearables can be used not only to enhance productivity but also to improve worker safety and compliance with rules. Some of the enterprise use cases of wearables are listed here:

  • Manufacturing and Warehouse Management
  • Engineering and Construction
  • Field Services

An example from a warehouse where we can imagine the typical scenario of the worker driving a forklift truck trying to locate while navigating his way in a crowded, not well organized shelving across the warehouse. Another example is in healthcare where we can imagine the importance of a wearable device attached to patients to monitor cardiac conditions, blood pressure levels, just to name a few of the multiple usages. Also, wearables can prove its ROI when it comes to cutting the health care costs. They have made the case and is already in practice in the several US companies, with service offered to 300,000 employees.

Statistically, a study found some impressive outcomes in which productivity of those wearing the wearables increased by 8.5% and job satisfaction increased by 3.5% over the initial month of the study.

A transition note

Wearables in the workplace are capable to deliver the expected value to business provided that the business case is clear, properly implemented, and supported by the right policies and security measures. The mobile enterprise is becoming a reality which raises the importance of having a proper strategy.

I also recently took part in an engaging Twitter chat hosted by ITBusiness.ca on the topic of incorporating wearables in the workplace. There was a lot of great insight shared between the guest experts and the participants, if you’re interested in the topic, take a look at the recap of the chat.