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The pros and cons of wearables in the workplace

By 16/05/2017April 11th, 2024Technology

According to research, one in six consumers currently owns and uses wearable technology. It’s why the sight of people paying for goods with their smartwatches and tracking calorie burns on the treadmill with flicks of the wrist are becoming everyday sights.

Wearable technology hasn’t enjoyed the healthiest of upbringings, either, which makes their growing prevalence in society even more surprising.

Remember Google Glass? The search giant’s take on facial wearable technology was announced in 2012, but despite the inevitable fanfare it received, Glass was subjected to a great deal of criticism and ultimately Google announced that it would stop producing the on-going prototype in 2015.

Despite Google Glass’ failure, wearable technology has continued to spark the public’s interest. However, while its benefits at home, while travelling and during gym visits are compelling, what about the workplace?

In this blog, we take a look at the pros and cons of wearable technology in business.

The advantages of wearable technology in the workplace

1. It can increase productivity

The best wearable technology is designed to make everyday tasks easier and more convenient.

In the workplace, such technology can be put to use in a variety of ways. For example, in the healthcare industry, doctors can use wearable tech to look inside a patient’s veins there and then, without having to wait for scans or X-rays.

In construction, emerging wearables are enabling workers to take a peek inside piping hidden behind walls, thus removing the need to undertake expensive repair work.

Wearable technology in business should help us solve problems quicker and in ways that significantly benefit both the company and its clients.

2. It may increase employee satisfaction

There’s no escaping the fact that injections of new technology within workplaces that have used the same processes and systems for many years can be rather disruptive and dent employee satisfaction, but the right technology can raise their spirits considerably.

Think about the first time you were able to use WiFi at work, or when you were given access to a smartphone app that made your job twenty percent easier. When that kind of thing happens, you feel far more satisfied at work, and your productivity levels will usually increase at the same rate.

Pick the right wearable technology for your business, and there’s a strong chance that you’ll see a significant uplift in employee satisfaction and engagement, which alone makes the investment more than worth it.

3. It could create fitter employees

A big part of wrist-born wearable technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers is the health benefits they offer.

As any HR professional will tell you, fit employees are productive employees, and if the introduction of a company smartwatch as a perk of working for the business results in staff spending more time in the gym their performance at work should step up several gears.

4. It’ll help you make the most of other tech investments

One of the most important aspects of wearables is their ability to connect to other systems. In fact, many devices of this kind will need some form of integration with a larger platform in order to provide real benefit.

If you’ve spent big on a new CRM, production system or project management tool, it pays to suss out whether or not it has wearable support. If so, investing in said wearables will extend the effectiveness of your investment and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

The disadvantages of wearable technology in the workplace

1. It can be a distraction

Just like smartphones, wearable technology offers plenty of distractions. For example, a smartwatch is an undoubtedly cool piece of kit, and the many features included by manufacturers (and increasing number of updates) mean there’s always something new to play with.

Their size can be a particular issue, too, because most wearable tech is pretty small, and small stuff is easy to play with discreetly. Do you really want employees to be twiddling the digital crown on their Apple Watches when they should be paying attention during important meetings?

2. They’re not cheap

Sure, you can pick up a fitness tracker for very little money these days, but wearable devices that offer a genuine benefit in the workplace are often rather expensive.

History tells us that, as technology improves, the price generally decreases and devices that were once unobtainable for most become commodities. It may simply be that we’re still at the growth stage of wearable technology and in order for it to be a sensible investment for your company, you’ll need to sit on the fence a little while longer.

3. Not all wearables are standalone

As noted above, many wearables require some form of larger platform in order to work properly. If that’s the case, you may need to bring in new systems at the same time you invest in wearables. That’s yet more training for staff and the very real threat of needlessly creating a monster of an internal operation.

4. Size and battery limitations prevail

Despite the huge advances in smart wearable technology, most devices are still pegged back and governed by technical limitations.

Most notably, the size of such devices and the limited battery capacity afforded means they can be both tricky to use and unreliable. Imagine a piece of wearable technology that provides fantastic business benefits but which needs charging every three hours – it simply wouldn’t cut it within a busy organisation

5. Privacy concerns

We live in a world where privacy and data security are at the forefront of most people’s minds, and if you introduce new technology into the business which threatens to invade either one of those things, it may have dire consequences from an HR perspective.

Before introducing any form of wearable technology, it’s vital that you first assess the potential impact it will have on staff. For it to work effectively, it needs to be fully trusted and clearly designed to undertake a very specific role within the business.

Wrapping up

The Tech Times has reported that employees equipped with wearable technology have demonstrated increases of up to 8.5% in productivity, along with a rise in job satisfaction of 3.5%.

What do you think? Have we convinced you that wearables will be a great investment for your business, or do the cons listed above suggest it is still too nascent a technology to be relevant at this stage?

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