An upcoming and latest trend towards using technology includes wearable devices like smart glasses, wristbands, smart watches, etc. helping the Human Resource (HR) management to monitor employee’s movements and improve productivity. All these data-driven technologies enable employers to gather data on employees more precisely, but it comes at a cost, i.e., the employee’s right to privacy.
As per the Workforce Institute Director Joyce Maroney’s findings – “There’s a strong belief that wearable technology will take off in the workplace before the home because devices such as smart watches, intelligent ID badges, and fitness and health monitors can provide organizations with uncharted data collection points to greatly improve safety, productivity, collaboration, and overall workplace effectiveness”.
These devices (like fitness trackers) are so involved in our daily lives that we have started appreciating them. The whole point of wearable technology is that it unobtrusively helps in gathering and transmitting information to centralized sources like private or public clouds. To do the same even with a smartphone would consistently block our hands and in many cases not even be able to gather some of the information these devices do.
- Smart glasses can be helpful for employees (such as firefighters) when they need to use both hands to accomplish a complex task
- Smart eyewear, with its 5 megapixel cameras, helps in taking photos, live streaming videos in real time and recording footage
- Over the last few years, organizations have started giving fitness trackers to their employees so that they can keep more healthy (preventive health care) and in turn bring down insurance costs
- Another road transport organization gave smart caps to their truck drivers that raise an alarm when they sensed that the driver is about to nod off to sleep
All these gadgets have a massive impact on workplaces and working habits.
The grey areas of wearable technology in the workplace
These emerging technologies help employers gather more precise data on employees, such as accurate location data or even health information.
- Will employers respect the data privacy of their employees?
- Will information like health stats be used to the detriment of an employee’s prospects?
For an organization, there are lurking risks too.
- Wearable technologies have serious and costly challenges for employers also. What if they do not realize enough benefits?
- Using this technology increases the risk of theft of confidential data of the organization. How do they prevent it from happening?
Wearable technology holds a lot of promise for the workplace. However, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need to ensure it does not become a tool of discrimination or industrial espionage.