The use of wearables has doubled over the past two years. By 2019, this will increase to 33.6 percent of the population, eMarketer projects. With the amount of people using wearables on a daily basis, it’s only natural to start seeing them at work. Here are five ways you can expect them to impact the workplace.
BYOW: Bring Your Own Wearable
Under the influence of wearables, Bring Your Own Device has spawned Bring Your Own Wearable (BYOW). Visionary employers who are embracing the BYOW trend are developing policies that take these new devices into account, giving them a head start on their competition. The use of wearable devices themselves forms one component of the BYOW trend, but equally important is the development of business apps for wearables. For instance, paralleling the consumer fitness wearable trend, the health industry is pursuing some of the earliest and most innovative workplace developments of wearable technology. Surgeons, for example, were using Google Glass for hands-free support to review patient medical records, view step-by-step instructions superimposed over model images and record surgeries. As this illustrates, different industries can develop customized wearable apps to support a wide range of business functions, enabling employees who bring wearables into the workplace to bring their own apps as well.
Enhancing Team Productivity
One benefit of wearables in the workplace is the potential to enhance team productivity. Whereas traditional productivity tools utilize screens and input devices, such as a keyboard or mouse, wearable productivity tools can employ more natural and ergonomic input and output methods, including voice and movement. For instance, grocery chain Tesco is using arm-mounted terminals to track worker movement of goods along 90 aisles of shelves, Entrepreneur reports. This eliminates the need for workers to mark their clipboards, speeding up inventory restocking. Meanwhile, the armbands also automatically provide managers with estimated completion times, streamlining project management scheduling. This illustrates how wearables can help project managers track team productivity using movement sensors. Wearables can also be used for team members to communicate by voice while keeping their hands free.
Reducing Workplace Stress
Another way wearables can improve productivity is by reducing stress in the workplace. A University of London study found that employees who use wearables such as posture coaches and brain activity monitors are 8.5 percent more productive and enjoy 3.5 percent higher job satisfaction rates. Since wearables can serve as portable music listening devices, they can also be combined with high-quality noise-canceling headphones from Sony to create more pleasant working conditions, reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction.
Tracking Employee Health and Safety
Wearables can also be used to track employee health and safety. For instance, petroleum corporation BP has distributed Fitbit fitness trackers to its North American employees to support its corporate wellness program and leverage better rates with insurance providers. Australian truck drivers are wearing caps that detect signs of driver fatigue. Matrix Medical Network uses wearables to protect its in-home care service providers, providing preventive information such as alerting employees to the nearby presence of homes of registered sex offenders and allowing employees to instantly alert the company to emergencies.
Supporting Sales and Customer Service
Sales and customer service teams are also benefiting from wearables. Salesforce says smartwatches are useful for delivering business intelligence to sales representatives in the field. Representatives can use natural voice commands to access customer relationship management data, while using smartwatch and smart glasses displays to view information about individual customer preferences. Customer service representatives can use wearables for similar purposes to perform functions such as accessing sales transaction and help ticket information, providing customers with a more seamless experience while keeping their own hands free for better efficiency.
As wearables start to take a more prominent place in the workforce, business owners should start to see an increase in productivity. From health initiatives to efficiency, there’s a wearable for every industry to take advantage of.