Many companies across the APAC region are discovering how wearable tech devices can revolutionize the workplace. Source: Shutterstock

How wearable tech can revolutionize the workplace

WHEN you think of wearable tech, you are more than likely to think of fitness bands used by individuals to track their steps, performance, heart rate and more. The flexibility of such devices enables users to step away from their smartphones without having to fully disconnect from their ‘digital life’.

But, wearable tech is not just for consumers who want to track their fitness. Globally there has been an increase in the use of wearable devices in the workplace.

Many companies across the APAC region are jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon and exploring how these devices can revolutionize the workplace.

The APAC region is expected to claim almost 49 percent of the wearables market over the next few years. and experts believe that the market will be worth US$18 billion by 2019. At such a time, leveraging this kind of tech is a smart move towards business growth.

Here’s what you need to know about how introducing wearable tech into the office can revolutionize your business.

Healthy, happy employees

Source: Shutterstock

The use of wearable tech, from a Human Resources (HR) perspective, can be a modern-twist to a traditional employee wellness program. An increasing number of employers are encouraging their staff to wear fitness trackers such as Fitbit and Jawbone to measure their health.

What’s the benefit? Research has shown that an increase in fitness levels correlates with increased productivity, morale, and work satisfaction.

Furthermore, many wearable tech devices have the ability to allow HR professionals to track things such as employee heart rate, stress, and level of fatigue. This has the potential to decrease the risk of accidents at work caused by exhaustion.

For instance, if a heavy-equipment operator is shown to have a significantly high-level of fatigue while working through the wearable-tracker,  the employer can choose to delegate harder tasks to some who is shown to be fit and healthy, allowing the former staff member to rest before resuming work.

Many employers around the globe are also adopting fitness-tracking wearables to offer incentives to its employees. For instance, cheaper health insurance is offered to employees who raise their fitness levels.

Increased productivity levels

The potential that wearable tech has in boosting productivity is really what’s driving this growing trend in the workplace.

A report by Salesforce found that 76 percent of companies found improved business performance after implementing wearable tech in their strategies.

In 2015, Hitachi developed a wearable sensor that gathers and analyzes data on individual human behavior and measures how this correlates with work productivity.

The device, which looks very much like an ID badge, monitors each individual’s movements throughout the working day. The data from all employees wearing the device is then analysed by cloud servers to determine the levels of workplace happiness. An AI system then uses this to identify and highlight to business leaders the areas which could be improved.

Through the deeper level of understanding on how your team operates and what makes them happy, AI and wearable tech could be the key to unlocking optimum productivity levels within your business.

Workplace safety

Many businesses understand the importance of effective health and safety practices, but many struggle to prove the effectiveness of each system over another. Today, wearable technology seeks to answer this problem.

Through sensor technology, human movements can be measured in order to give businesses data that can be turned into measurable results. These sensors can pinpoint any risk areas relating to repetitive movements which can lead to injuries.

From this data, businesses have the opportunity to map and monitor movement and address any health and safety issues accordingly.

Wearable tech is also making advancements in the monitoring and protection of lone workers. Wearsafe, for example, is a wearable tag which enables workers to alert employers or contacts when their safety is in danger.

Unsafe workplaces can inflict many costs on an enterprise. Insurance costs can be driven up and productivity levels lowered, all of which has a high impact on employee morale and retention. Thus, it is in the best interest of your business to invest in improving employee health and reducing any potential risks.

The downsides of wearable workplace tech

While wearable tech can reap many benefits in regards to the workplace, the downsides should also be considered. The main issues surrounding the utilization of this tech in the workplace includes data security and privacy breach.

One study found that 82 percent of employees fear privacy invasions and worry about how their non-work-related activity may impact their job. A mountain of personal data is being collected by the devices daily, and so ensuring advanced data protection should be a top priority for employers seeking to build trust with their staff.

Further, the idea that employer wants to keep track of personal things such as physical activity and stress levels is something that will meet some resistance. Therefore, it is important for employers to establish guidelines beforehand in order to lay any fears to rest.

Despite these issues, it is clear that wearable technology in the workplace is a trend that will only gain further momentum. Thus, for business leaders, it is paramount to keep updated with where the market is heading and how these devices will impact the future of the workplace.