Wearable Gadgets Invade Offices
Wearable gadgets are fast finding their way into offices, eliciting diverse reactions depending on whose point of view you consider.
While employers view it as a useful tool, employees consider it an ankle bracelet.
Employees already resent micromanaging bosses to the extent that articles, several of them have been written to help those in the situation cope.
A piece of technology that could turn even the greatest of employers into micromanagers by supplying them with a detailed record of an employee’s actions, even how long they spend in the toilet, trumps it all. More self-help articles please!
With the introduction of wearable gadgets to offices, this has indeed become part of company practice.
One such gadget, the Hitachi Business Microscope, can monitor things like how workers move, where they are, who they are speaking with, and even measure how well they are communicating with others by noting how often they make hand gestures and nod, and the tone of their voice. – Wall Street Journal
Modern offices are already rife with employee privacy infringements. That this technology is frowned at by employees is thus a no-brainer.
Much of the problem lies in what is emphasized as the reason for these gadgets – “improving productivity”. Employees read that as “squeezing more and more out of us”, or even “they think we’re incompetent.”
Besides, if a company has to rely on wearable gadgets to ensure productivity, they may need to re-evaluate their business dynamics.
Productivity should be built into the core of a company’s work practices.
When an employee is always involved in tasks that are matched to his skills and career goals, whether or not they are “fun” tasks, they will perform well and contribute to the growth of the company.
Thus, while wearable gadgets may play a part in improving efficiency, creating company practices that fully utilize the skills of employees, and makes their career dynamic is the major step needed to improve employee productivity.
How Employers Can Get On The Same Page With Employees
As admitted above, wearable devices may contribute to efficiency if used correctly. But if used wrongly, they could also destroy the morale of workers and reduce business performance.
The difference lies in a company’s approach.
While I would normally resent a “digital micromanager” on me, I have to admit that if my employer’s emphasis is put in the right place, it could be acceptable.
If, for example, the sole (and honest) aim is to track my activities so avenues for professional development and improvement can be identified, with the intent of making me “more valuable” in my field, then why not.
Can you see why this would sit well with employees? It is no longer a matter of mining them for the last resource but of making them more resourceful and important.
Proof that this will be effective is seen in the results of a survey carried out by PWC. Of the 2000 respondents, 40% said that they would accept a wearable gadget at work.
But that number jumped to 56% when the purpose of the gadget was to improve their wellbeing.
Clearly, if an employer goes one up and decides to use such gadgets for professional development of employees as well, many more will be willing, and probably even happy to use it.
Along the line, a more resourceful employee would also contribute more to the success of the company, so everybody wins.
Can Employers Require Employees To Use Wearables?
The legal issues involved in the use of wearables have not been fully established.
However, it is unlikely that employers can require employees to wear them.
“Lawyers say companies would have to gain the explicit informed consent of employees before gathering personal data from wearables — and further consent to correlate it with other data, such as performance metrics.” – FT Business
Either way, it will be a terrible idea to force wearables on employees. That’s one sure way to predetermine the kind of data you get from the wearables – data that says you’ve successfully demoralized your employees.
By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support