Investing in wearable tech? Six key questions to address

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2. Do wearables invade your employees’ privacy?

Spicer and Cederström noted a recent survey by PwC, which found that 82% of employees are concerned about privacy when it comes to using wearables.

“Even if your company is able to compel employees to use them, you’re likely to face questions about what information you’re actually obtaining,” they explained. “Will you suddenly have a detailed understanding of what people eat, how much they sleep, how much they drink, and what mood they are in? One very real risk is that some employees will feel that every aspect of their life is being watched, and will make choices — sometimes poor ones — based on this assumption.”

They added that many of your employees may worry that managers will consciously or unconsciously start making decisions about staff performance based on irrelevant data about their non-work lives.

3. How will wearables blur the boundaries between work and everything else?

As the popularity of wearables rises, routines will change.

“Instead of spending our time monitoring social networks, we may devote the same attention to monitoring our own moods and bodies,” said Spicer and Cederström.“Keeping an eye on our vital statistics, for example, could become seen as much a part of our extended work activities as monitoring social networks and emails is today.”

This, they hypothesised, could lead to an invasion of employees’ daily lives – perhaps without them even realising.

“Should employees be able to draw boundaries between their work and non-work lives? If the answer is ‘yes,’ how will you build these limiting functions into the technologies themselves? And how will you educate employees about these boundaries and create the right incentivize for adherence?”

4. How will you deal with all the data created by wearables?

The sheer amount of information generated by wearable devices is likely to create an overload of data for many organisations. In addition to monitoring basic metrics such as performance on tasks, firms will be charged with keeping track – and making sense — of a huge stream of physiological, emotional, and perhaps even neurological data.

“The sheer amount of information generated by wearable devices is likely to create an overload of data for many organisations,” warned Spicer and Cederström. “In addition to monitoring basic metrics such as performance on tasks, firms will be charged with keeping track and making sense of a huge stream of physiological, emotional, and perhaps even neurological data.”

This is likely to lead to a need to hire people to manage and analyse the data.

“There’s also the risk of a new form of bureaucracy based on biological information, which some people studying workplaces have termed ‘biocracy’,” they added. “If not carefully considered, there is a significant risk that it will simply reproduce all of your company’s current bureaucratic problems.”

In the worst case scenario, introducing bio-trackers without a management strategy could create significantly more work for employees and their managers, which in many cases will hinder the completion of employees’ current tasks.


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