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How smart wearables help boost employee productivity

According to recent research, wearable technologies boost employee productivity by 8.5 per cent. The research also revealed that wearable technologies increase employee job satisfaction by 3.5 per cent.

James Thomas        Last Updated: July 22, 2015  | 17:41 IST

James Thomas
We've heard of employees living their company values, wearing the brand on their sleeves and acting like true ambassadors for their companies. The latest trend is employees wearing their work.

Sounds strange? Probably, but from wearing the brand logo to actually wearing technology, including glasses or headsets that help you do your job better, there seems to be a noticeable change in workplace attire.

Indulging in wearable technologies is the new trend for many these days. Smart headsets, smart watches, smart wrist bands, smart glasses and many more smart, interesting wearable interventions are captivating consumers the world over. Following on the heels of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution in the corporate sector, we're now witnessing wearable technologies gaining steady acceptance.

While the first leg of wearable technologies generated quite a lot of interest among organisations, it is only more recently that many are realising the true potential of wearables and are serious about rolling out a 'wearables strategy'. This is an inherent part of the consumerisation of technology paradigm and the next step in the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.

Apart from creating opportunities to engage employees better and ensure workforce safety, the impact of wearables on employee productivity makes for an interesting discussion. According to recent research, wearable technologies boost employee productivity by 8.5 per cent. A trend that could, without doubt, deliver a positive financial impact to the business bottom line. The research also revealed that wearable technologies increase employee job satisfaction by 3.5 per cent, so there's a positive outlook for staff retention from this kind of technology as well.

According to another survey conducted recently by Harris Poll, workers around the world are ready to embrace wearable technology at work, with nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of online adults seeing at least one potential workplace benefit. Interestingly, India and China are leading the race in using this technology at workplace at 72 per cent and 73 per cent respectively. Globally, the top three wearable devices that adults in most countries claim to be useful in the workplace are smart headphones, smart watches, and arm/wrist computing devices. Higher rates of adoption by employees focus on three core factors: increased efficiency and employee safety, a better work/life balance and where companies have paid for the devices.

In companies that have already moved from testing to deploying wearables, results have been encouraging. Take, for instance, the manufacturing industry in India where most of the service engineering teams still function in a semi-automated, semi-manual fashion, relying on gut feel and past experience to resolve machinery issues at customer sites. With the latest wearable camera technology, field technicians and service engineers can view beyond the obvious and perform deeper diagnoses, resulting in better utilisation of machinery, reduced downtime and increased throughput and productivity.

A 2-3 per cent improvement in service efficiency and uptime can deliver several hours of machine continuity and transform an organisation's bottom line. Imagine the impact this can have on the confidence of service engineers. From an organisation's point of view, the wearable camera feed can be viewed and analysed virtually real-time and can act as a mini case study of sorts on two counts. First, it helps gauge the mettle of the service engineer in solving the problem with technology interventions. Second, it helps identify and groom these service engineers into specialists, organising them into teams and ensuring that relevant engineers can be deployed to handle scenarios they are most familiar with. It can undoubtedly support improved incident management and resolution, as well as motivate staff as they become recognised for their specialist knowledge.

Similar scenarios and applications are being found in healthcare and retail to help improve productivity, engage and motivate employees and positively impact performance. It is only a matter of time before we witness mainstream adoption of wearables in the workplace. As we move ahead, we'll undoubtedly hear more about forward-thinking organisations across different business sectors championing the use of wearables.

The author is Country Manager (India), Kronos, a workforce management company.

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