Should You Let Employees Use Wearables at Work?

By Bob Violino Print this article Print
Enterprise Wearables

Management should ask two questions about enterprise wearables: What apps should employees use? How can the firm manage devices that are part of the workplace?

"The motivation for implementing this program was simple: help create a happier and healthier workforce," Williams says. "We recognized that wearable devices represent a new way to more effectively engage employees in our wellness program, helping them to more easily track their daily activity levels and earn financial incentives in the process."

Wayne Densch has not run into any significant challenges with wearables. "It was important to find a wellness program that was virtually turnkey, as we don't have a large enough staff to create our own wellness program," Williams says.

Using Wearables to Measure and Understand Products

Another company, San Francisco-based Nootrobox, which makes performance-enhancing compounds, is using wearable devices to better measure and understand the impact of their products, as well as for general fitness tracking of its employees.

The company is using products including Apple Watch, Jawbone UP and Intel BASIS. It's incorporating the biometric signals from the devices with productivity data on its computers and devices to allow it to measure and optimize employees' own regimens in order to maximize performance, says Geoff Woo, CEO.

"We started experimenting with them over a year ago to track biometrics against productivity," Woo says. "The goal is to figure out what behaviors—like eating nootropics, drinking coffee—affect various biometrics [such as] heart rate and skin galvanic response, and how these ultimately correlate with work productivity."

Some of the devices are company-owned and others are owned by employees. Those employees who bring their own wearable devices to work are asked to "open source" their data, Woo says. "We simply pull the data into a database as needed for our analysis," he says.

The company plans to publish the data in the fourth quarter as part of its "Biohacker Challenge," where it asks people to rigorously collect and track a number of biometrics measures over three months. There's no corporate management policy regarding wearables other than a general directive to wear them as much as possible and log environmental variables, according to Woo. "We think the entire world will eventually move toward productivity tracking via wearables," he predicts.

As a company focused on improving intellect and productivity, "We look at this as a primary business opportunity for our company," Woo adds. "We are alpha-testing our own software to learn about the user experience and the most valuable signals we can extract from wearables."

Among the biggest challenges are battery life and issues with adherence and compliance. "If someone forgets to charge their Apple Watch overnight, that basically skips a full day of data collection," Woo points out.

This article was originally published on 2016-09-09

Bob Violino. a Baseline contributor,  is a freelance writer and the editorial director at Victory Business Communications. He has covered business and technology for more than 20 years.

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