We’ve reached that point in the tech timeline where consumer wearables are inching towards the end of their growth phase. Once a raging movement, the forthcoming trends seem to be in favour of more generic concepts, such as Artificial Intelligence, AR and VR. While wearables have always been popular – with an IDC prediction stating 111 million wearables to be shipped in 2016 – the time is now ripe for OEMs to explore more varied and foolproof use cases, since as of now the biggest problem with wearables is the retention factor for users.
So, considering all factors, one of the key areas for wearables to prove their prowess is in the workplace. And that shall be the crux of this article – how wearables can enhance productivity in organisations for both employers and employees.
Quantified Self IN THE WORKPLACE – A BRIEF OVERVIEW
I’ve already spoken extensively about the Quantified Self movement being applied to workplaces in a different article, so let’s just go over the basics in this one.
Performance of an employee – directly governed by health factors and interest levels – plays the most vital role in a company’s growth. It is therefore important for employers to effectively gauge which factors would contribute to the employee’s productivity, and in turn improve upon those factors.
The onus is not on becoming Big Brother, but more of a keen observer and coach. Observations bring about knowledge, knowledge brings about information and this information can be effectively streamlined into valuable insights for an enhanced, quantifiable growth.
In this regard, analytics tools – involving both big data and personal analytics, as well as additional concepts such as gamification, or the improvement of enterprise mobility standards, would pave the path for a more systematic growth and productivity in workplaces worldwide.
WHERE DO WEARABLES STEP IN?
Now wearables have already been the forerunner as far as QS tools have been concerned. Wearables – I’ll be discussing mainly smartwatches and smart bands in this context – have been adept at recording information, owing to the presence of motion sensors, heart rate sensors and advanced functionalities such as location tracking in tow as well.
So that brings about the most relevant question: how can they be used to enhance productivity?
As always, correlation is the key. What if wearables could keep a track of the arm movement and time involved in completing a physical task, or enable to assess the phase of the day during which an employee is most productive? Workplaces will undoubtedly lead the wearable adoption trends, and in turn pave the way for more use cases within organisations for wearables.
1. Tesco issues armbands to their employees, which track the goods being transported and shelved by the employees. This feat renders it unnecessary for the worker to take notes on a clipboard, while at the same time allowing managers to assess the estimated completion time for a task, logistic management, and worker efficiency.
2. Caterpillar considers employee fatigue levels to be of vital importance, and while earlier methods to keep track included having questionnaires, the modern techniques include selling sleep detection sensors for mining truckers. This in turn prevents the chances of mishaps taking place.
3. Way back in the 1990s, Bell Canada gave its phone technicians wrist-worn PCs, which could let them enter data from repair sites without having to access a separate computer.
4. A similar use case was carried out by Schneider in the same time period, where the company issued belt-mounted voice-activated computers, which boosted efficiency by 150%.
There are even more examples to support the importance of wearables in the workplace. In fact, according to a survey by Rackspace in 2014, employees using wearables at work became 8.5% more productive, and 3.5% more satisfied with their jobs.
KEY TRAITS THAT WILL COME INTO PLAY
1. The importance of context will be more relevant than ever. The focus will have to shift to minimising the interaction between the employee and the wearable, while at the same time allowing the wearable to intelligently and intuitively capture the data.
2. OEMs will need to produce more non-obtrusive and lightweight wearable trackers, while at the same time cramming as many sensors within the wearable. This shall ensure that the workers aren’t irritated with the wearable present.
3. Data security, and information protection, will be of paramount importance. Storage on the cloud, along with aggregator and analytics systems, will need to come equipped with proper security protocols to ensure the privacy of the data collected from the employees.
Wearables will definitely prove their presence within workplaces. The next frontier for productivity, their presence will move on from commonplace to necessity. The need of the hour is for OEMs and organisations to work hand in hand to develop and deliver suitable QS trackers.
(Cover Image Credits: Dan Matutina)
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