Devices like fitness trackers, smart watches, VR goggles and AR glasses are only growing in popularity. CCS Insight predicts that by 2021, more than 185 million wearables will be sold in a year, rising to a value of $16.9 billion. The advancements in data processing (including voice and gesture capturing) are making wearable technology even easier to use and more applicable as a business tool.
Every company can integrate wearable technology into day-to-day operations. In this article, we’ll discuss four ways that businesses are already using data-capturing devices and encourage you to be creative in implementing this technology into your office.
A note on privacy and security
With any new technology, particularly one that depends on data-gathering and cloud-sharing, individuals will be concerned about privacy. Enterprises in particular ought to be careful about the precautions they take in regards to information security.
Data collection is done by large companies like Google all the time. Such information gathering is primarily done to improve the user experience. People are afraid of this technology because they don’t understand what it’s actually doing. In business settings, IT security departments need to do more to help users help themselves. Employees should be trained on the correct settings and habits that will protect the entire company.
Building understanding will, in turn, build employee enthusiasm towards wearable technology in the workplace. Set clear expectations about the intended business uses of the technology. Make team members aware of limited company access. Share examples of how such data can inform work design, staffing and other decisions. 45% of informed UK employees said that they would feel comfortable and excited to share information via wearable devices if it contributed to their wellbeing.
Employees are excited about the prospect of wearable technologies, they just want to be informed and protected. Businesses need to take additional security measures to protect from attacks that could threaten user safety.
1. Enhanced Communication
Collaboration and communication are crucial in the workplace. Wearables can help bring your workforce together, especially if your company depends on coordinating large groups of people.
The remote workforce is only growing. VR wearable applications can help to facilitate combined meetings in virtual spaces for independent contractors and in-house employees. VR tech can also offer enhanced training opportunities, offering any employee an immersive experience without even stepping foot into the office.
With the help of voice assistants and AI, wearables can help teams to coordinate meetings more intuitively. Devices like smart watches provide hands-free access to calendar scheduling and appointment reminders.
2. Employee Wellness
Many companies have already started implementing wearables in the form of employee wellness programs. These business-sponsored programs seek to improve overall health and build a more positive work environment.
The health-tracking functions of smartwatches and fitness bands can have great benefits to employees. Wearables give reminders to individuals who have been sitting too long and encourage regular exercise outside of the office. Additionally, wearable devices monitor sleep patterns and encourage regular breathing, helping employees to manage stress levels.
While there are great overall benefits to just having a healthier team, monitoring these kinds of physical symptoms in your employees can also help you be in tune to worrisome emotional symptoms. Fatigue, stress, and even depression are often manifested in lessened physical activity, presenting opportunities to address mental well-being as well.
3. Monitor Productivity
Smart devices can make workers more efficient and productive. One study that tested the impact of wearable technology in the workplace found that employees saw an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction.
Such data-capturing technology makes workers more valuable because of the boost in employee productivity. This data not only helps employees track their own productivity, but allows employers to track rates of high-productivity or burnout, informing their decision-making.
This is not to say, of course, that employees should be micromanaged. Decades of research has shown that job control (aka employee discretion of what they do and how they do it) has a major impact on employee productivity and physical health. Instead, wearables should be viewed as a more intuitive and informed way to encourage employees to be proactive and build a prospering work environment.
4. Customer Experience
Not only can you make in-house improvements with wearable technology, you can and should improve the customer experience. You want customers to have exceptional, up-to-date, impressive experiences with your brand—and wearables are a unique place to start.
Companies like Disney and Carnival Cruises have already developed their own wearable devices. “Magicbands” and “Medallions” allow customers to do just about everything related to their experience—syncing directions, maps, keys, account info, ordering, purchasing and more with the device itself.
While your business may not need to monitor every customer desire, you can learn more about customer preferences with wearable technology. Customers can be reached using VR and smart watches. Transaction speeds and security can be improved with biometric authorization. Wearables can refine loyalty programs and streamline customer service.
Be Creative and Responsible
Wearables are here to stay. Try your hand at workplace applications and constantly reevaluate. If wearable technology isn’t addressing your needs in its current use, then revise your goals and strategies. Set clear expectations for your company and strike a proper balance between business and personal. Have fun, be creative, but also be responsible.