Wearable technology may be viewed as the latest passing fad, but they may be more than that. At least according to a recent report from the University of London. The study concludes there could be real business benefits to those businesses who adopt the technology in the right way.
The study, by Goldsmiths at the University of London was used in the Human Cloud at Work Report commissioned by storage provider Rackspace. It concluded that there were real productivity benefits from using wearable technology to help staff.
The findings were surprising in two ways. One, only 5% of employees included in the survey had a problem with being monitored. Two, only 59%, were concerned about the security implications of being tracked. Both are very positive but surprising signs.
Wearables and productivity
Participants in the study were asked to wear one of the following wearables. The Neurosky MindWave brain activity sensor, GENEActiv motion monitor or the LumoBack posture coach sensor. The Neurosky MindWave measures brain activity, the GENEActiv measures movement and activity and the LumoBack reminds you to sit up straight.
The readings from these devices were then used in employee Performance At Work (PAW) assessments. Of those wearing the Neurosky MindWave, 46% had improved PAW scores. The GENEActiv generated a 50% improvement, while the LumoBack produced 36%, despite being a direct intervention device instead of a measurement.
Overall, the employees who played a part in this study demonstrated an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction.
What the report doesn’t specify is how the wearables generated these improvements. The LumoBack gives direction on its own, so it’s benefit is obvious. While an assumption, we expect the Neurosky MindWave and GENEActiv measurements were used in conjunction with PAW scores to provide coaching and direction to employees.
The popularity of fitness tracking and sites such as Strava have already awakened many of us to the benefits of wearable technology. The ability to track performance, biometrics and other measurables for leisure has already opened the door to business use of the same principles.
The main hurdle for any business wanting to adopt this kind of measurement is one of privacy. The EU has some tough data privacy laws, with tougher ones expected this year in the EU Data Protection Regulation. Once this hurdle is overcome, the use of wearable technology to improve productivity and wellbeing should be fairly straightforward.
Are you considering using wearable devices for your workforce? Using them already? Let us know how they are performing!