The Future Workplace: A Home for Wearable Technology

A man looking at his smartwatch.

With the world having to adapt quickly to social distancing, the avoidance of touching surfaces where viruses can be transmitted, and the increased monitoring of people’s vital signs, it’s no wonder the wearable tech market, which offers solutions to all these challenges, is set to grow 137% by 2024.

While workplaces have already been disrupted with Perspex screens, one-way systems, hand sanitizing stations and ‘bubbles’, the next big disruption in the workplace is going to be wearable devices. Statistics show that by connecting workers to one another and to resources, 50% of companies expect to see a boost in productivity. Where will this boost come from though and how can wearables help? We put together some of the key areas that wearable devices will impact in the future workplace and the challenges we need to overcome.

COVID-19 prevention

With many medium to large workplaces playing host to hundreds, if not thousands of people, it is an impossible task to keep all touchpoints on doors and barriers clean. At the same time, access must be controlled for safety and security. While electronic passes have existed for a while, using wearables to grant access to physical office locations can help keep people moving, eradicating the need to touch surfaces and reducing the spread of viruses.

More advanced possibilities include calling an elevator in advance from a smartphone to help ensure a flow of traffic in busy high-rise buildings, booking meeting rooms to aid with test and trace records, and replacing lunch queues with bookable slots.

Wearables in the workplace also offer the option of tracking any changes in employees’ vital signs, helping to identify and isolate members of staff who are unwell.

Safety and situational awareness

By gaining insights into their business operations in real-time, wearables also allow employers to make smarter decisions and take a more proactive approach to ensure the safety of their employees. Wearable devices can be personalized and configured to a worker’s exact needs and specifications. They can also be equipped with haptic response capabilities which employers can use to inform workers if they are operating in an unsafe manner.

The data capture capabilities of wearable technology can help determine which tasks workers are performing incorrectly, and which may be contributing to inefficiency or poor performance. Organizations can also produce daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly reports/scorecards to track performance and identify trends.

Streamlined processes and increased productivity

Wearable technology will also help organizations increase their efficiency and productivity. They can help speed up production costs, cut down on operational expenses and alleviate unnecessary strain on workers.

These devices can also help automate previously manual processes, help to develop a more hands-free environment, and collect and share data on a local network. For example, leveraging wearable technology to design and test new products in simulated environments can increase design accuracy and enable organizations to identify and rectify any issues before products are released.

Personalized and effective training

Organizations can leverage wearable technology to streamline their training and make it more efficient and tailored to specific employees. Wearable technology also boosts performance, improves employee satisfaction and increases knowledge retention among workers.

This allows organizations to create immersive task simulations for training purposes and take scenario training to an entirely new level by placing employees in simulated situations which closely mimic their day jobs.

Wearables also cut the time of reading various sales materials, providing three-dimensional training on how products work meaning workers can test out products in real-life scenarios without ever leaving the building.

Challenges and concerns with wearable technology 

When implementing wearable technology into an organization, it is also introducing a new level of data collection and, as a result, a new area of security concern. It becomes increasingly important to protect the device and the data housed within the device from unwanted access, the same way a company would protect employee information or financial records. And security is not the only concern related to new IoT devices. Organizations will need to consider compliance, management and regular updates.

Wearables are already revolutionizing the way workers do their jobs, from law enforcement officers using body cams to gather evidence or record their interactions with the public, to hospital workers using wireless pendants to streamline communication and improve the patient experience.

COVID-19 is only accelerating this push towards integrating wearables and implementing them across the workplace. But, without proper management, businesses will not be able to reap the full benefits. The SOTI ONE Platform, however, helps make mobile and IoT business operations simpler, smarter and more reliable. Find out more here.