But is Progress Worth the Cost of Our Health?
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It is a fast-paced world in which employers demand always-increasing productivity from their employees. Sadly, health is often sacrificed for our rapid progress. Stress, late nights, and quick meals are the norm. But who will look after our health? Do we even have time? Wearables can give us the best of both worlds — they can aid our productivity and keep a close watch over our health AT THE SAME TIME. These little marvels of technology can allow us to focus more on crossing items off our endless to-do lists and less on what might or might not be ailing us.
Wearable technologies are products with advanced sensor and computing technologies that can be worn on the body during daily activities to generate, store, and transmit data. They can come in handy in monitoring productivity, identifying hazards, and intervening when risks present themselves. They can also provide suggestions that will improve task management. Above all, they can facilitate the health and wellness of the users.
The first wearable devices were simple watches. These trusty innovations kept workers posted about what time of the day it was and thus improved how they monitored their activities. Years ago, they were worn as necklaces or carried around in pockets. To improve efficiency and ease of access, watches were later designed to wrap around the wrist, thereby marking the next step of the innovation that is currently revolutionizing the world. Today, thanks to the introduction of sensors and artificial intelligence, these simple time monitoring machines have evolved into smartwatches and other technologies.
With wearables hitting the market from all angles, we can’t help but forecast the roles they stand to play in boosting productivity and monitoring health.
How Exactly Are Wearables Promoting Productivity?
A 2017 study revealed that wearable devices play important roles in boosting productivity in the workplace. According to the authors, they can be helpful in monitoring psychological and physiological factors (stress), enhancing operational efficiency, promoting workplace security and safety, and improving workers’ health.
By 2020, more than 75 million wearables will permeate the workplace.
-PwC report (2016)
In 2016, the PwC report predicted that “by 2020, more than 75 million wearables will permeate the workplace.” True to the prediction of PwC and other researchers, there has indeed been an increase in the penetration and usage of wearable devices. Here’s how they’re being used:
1. Monitoring stress factors in employees
Keeping an active eye on employee psychological and physiological health is paramount for improved productivity. Wearables can collect data; some researchers used heart activity, skin conductance, and accelerometer signals to categorize levels of stress, relaxed time activities, and higher cognitive load. They achieved this by utilizing machine learning methods.
Wearable devices like smartwatches, bands, garments, patches embedded with sensors, small portable devices, and mobile applications now record and provide feedback on many different physical performance variables. These variables, identified by a group of researchers, include cardiorespiratory functions, movement patterns, sweat analysis, tissue oxygenation, sleep, emotional state, and changes in cognitive functions. Devices like Lief, developed by Lief Therapeutics, can measure your heart and breath to track stress levels in real-time by using a clinically-proven biomarker of stress called heart-rate variability (HRV).
2. Enhancing operational efficiency
Wearables can improve channels of communication. They keep employees up to date about all work processes without affecting efficiency and service delivery. AI, in combination with AR, can make communications more accurate and easier to understand.
Devices like the HPE Visual Remote Guidance (VRG) provide a secure, Enterprise-ready solution capable of boosting productivity, increasing efficiency, and decreasing costs for organizations via visually-guided interactive sessions with extended teams.
3. Promoting workplace safety and security
Employees are more motivated to perform (and are thus more productive) when they feel safe. Integrating wearable devices for mine workers or heavy machine operators can help in avoiding hazards. They can detect dangerous working areas while limiting false alarms and also warn employees of potential risk factors like noise levels, extreme temperatures, and harmful toxins.
4. Improving workers’ general health
Smartwatches, patches, and other forms of wearable technologies powered by AI and machine learning can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and vitals. For instance, the Apple Watch Series 5 is capable of generating an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. It can even alert the user if something is wrong. Additionally, it can do things like monitor menstrual cycles and notify users if noise levels rise to a point that could impair hearing.
While AI alters every aspect of our lives, wearable technologies will continue to grow in their usefulness. They make all kinds of jobs easier, more secure, safer, and more productive.
What do you think about using wearable technologies to improve your effectiveness in the workplace? Is this something you will adopt? Have you already? Let us know how wearable digital technologies affect your productivity.
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