Wearable tech was once easily dismissed and laughed off as just another gimmick. Google Glass spectacularly failed because users were afraid of being called names while wearing them, among other reasons. However, in the past several years, wearable technology has become more innovative and smarter.
On the consumer side, wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers remain exceptionally popular. While the overallsales of wearables have declined in the past couple of years, major brands like Apple continue to profit from popular products like the Apple Watch.
But the future of wearable tech may not rest just on the consumers. In fact, tech industry watchers predict that wearable tech would become highly useful in the workplace of the future. Wearable gadgets like ID trackers have already been embraced by some companies. Here are several up-and-coming ways wearable tech looks poised to fundamentally transform the workplaces of the future:
Wearables Make It Easy for Employers to Keep Tabs on Employees
The most promising feature of wearable tech is also it’s most dreaded. Wearables like smartwatches make it possible for businesses to keep track of its employees down to their GPS coordinates. Far from being expensive, even a cheap smartwatch is sufficient to enable the tracking of thousands of employees regardless of where they are in the world.
This has both positive and negative implications in real-world settings. On one hand, employers can track employees who may undertake dangerous assignments, thus ensuring their safety. A wearable tracker or a smartwatch also allows employers to monitor a worker’s movements when he or she is outside the workplace.
On the other hand, employees would give up a significant portion of their privacy when strapped to a wearable provided by the employer. This practice has already raised complex privacy problems. In the future, companies will have to balance their need to account for employees against the privacy of individual workers when wearables are worn.
Track Employee Performance and Health
Wearable gadgets not only allow employers to track the physical whereabouts of employees, it also facilitates monitoring of performance. This functionality was best put to test by the Australian National Football team. When the ANF team was touring abroad, their coaches wanted to keep track of how well the players were performingback at home.
They came up with an innovative solution: the Apple Watch. The players wore Apple Watches at all times, even while asleep. The Watch uploaded sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and other data to a mobile app. The coaches accessed this app to monitor every aspect of the players’ routines.
Other businesses that want to track employee performance based on sleep, heart rate, and other factors can use similar gadgets. Fitness trackers, which are akin to smartwatches, offer a lot more data that employers can use to track the progress of employees.
Like the ANF, employers could use wearables to assess employee health and wellness. Take for example an air traffic controller. It’s vital for anyone employed in this field to get adequate amounts of sleep at night. Supervisors can enforce such health rules using smartwatches or fitness trackers to check whether employees get sufficient amounts of sleep instead of staying up Netflixing.
Wearables have vast potential to allow employers to monitor the health of employees, which directly relates to workplace performance. Health monitoring is essential to calculate the stress levels employees are under, a critical factor in certain professions.
Enforce Timely Arrivals
Wearable gadgets like ID trackers and smartwatches can eliminate the need for employees to sign in or out at work. The gadgets can automatically detect when an employee is at their desk and when he goes out for a break. The need to manually track employee time can be wholly eliminated.
This would require employees to wear a tracker while at work and before arriving to work. It could also get rid of disputes regarding hours of work. Employers can additionally use the data to choose the best hours for work and breaks based on employee performance.
Similar to monitoring worker arrivals and departures, low-cost wearable gadgets can be used to control access to certain areas in the workplace. Instead of wasting time typing in passcodes, employees can use ID tags to get access to restricted areas or devices.
Lundin Norway, an offshore oil company, paired a wearable device with a mobile app to control employee access to industrial equipment. Before this method was put in place, workers had to manually enter data to get access to restricted areas and tomaintain or use equipment. This process became more streamlined with the use of wearables. Lundin was able to significantly improve worker efficiency as a result.
Wearables can arguably reduce obstacles to controlling restricted area access benefiting both workers and employers. Employees can save time gaining access while employers can improve existing security infrastructure and protect property better with wearable tech.
Update Employees in Real Time
Lundin additionally used the wearable gadgets to keep engineers updated in real-time. If an employer wants to update workers with certain information, wearables are a far better option than computers or smartphones.
Employees won’t need to log into an app or an email account to get updates when a smartwatch or a tracker would do the trick. As Lundin discovered, thissimplified the process and improvedproductivity. While Lundin updated employees within a single worksite, other employers could use wearables to update employees regardless of where they are in the world.
Because smartphones can be updated via an internet connection, employers needn’t spend extra money on international calls or connections. A smartwatch can give employers instant access to an employee located in the office or elsewhere. Employers can better manage a virtual workforce as a result.
Wearables mayseem like a minor step in terms of tech advancements, but they are poised to bring major changes to how workplaces are managed. The gadgets are highly affordable and implementing the technology is immensely cost-efficient, even for a small business. Because of these advantages, wearable tech can fundamentally change the workplaces of tomorrow.
Author: Tracy Plunkettis
Tracy Plunkettis a San Francisco-based freelance author. Formerly a tech journalist, Tracy got her start as an amateur programmer. Currently, her interests revolve around personalized gadgets and how these affect everyday life and business operations.