Wearable technology could boost workplace productivity

Study reveals that devices would have a positive effect on staff and organisations.

Wearable technology, such as smart watches and fitness monitors, could significantly increase the productivity of workers, according to a recently published study.

Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London, looked into how wearable devices affected employee wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction over a one-month period.

The results were published in the Human Cloud at Work (HCAW) report. It showed during that period employee productivity was boosted by 8.5 per cent, while job satisfaction improved by 3.5 per cent.

Workers were given Neurosky MindWave brain activity sensors, GENEActiv motion monitors and the Lumo Back posture coach to wear.

Employees were generally positive about wearables. Only five per cent of particpants were resistant to wearing them. However, one major concern was the impact of security. Fifty-nine per cent were worried about this.

According to a Vanson Bourne survey of 300 IT decision makers in the UK, 29 per cent of UK businesses have some form of wearable technology project in practice. The main reasons for such projects are employee well-being (16 per cent), instant access to important information (15 per cent), and improved customer service (14 per cent).

The greatest perceived barrier to entry for wearable technology at work was having an IT infrastructure that could take advantage of the data being collected and analysed (20 per cent).

"Wearable technologies are arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing, so it's natural that employees and businesses will look to use these devices in the workplace," said lead researcher Dr Chris Brauer.

"These results show the potential power and application of wearable devices in the workplace from employee biometric CVs to organisational real-time executive dashboards for resource allocation."

The research was conducted in partnership with cloud vendor Rackspace.

Nigel Beighton, the firm's UK chief technology officer, said: "Many wearable technologies are focused on improving some aspect of an individual's life whether it is for health and fitness, focus and concentration, productivity or job satisfaction.

"By focusing on the data as well as the devices, wearable technologies can provide meaningful insights that can be used to improve performance and satisfaction. Essentially wearable tech and big data go hand-in-hand."

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