The modern workplace is rapidly changing, and technology disruptors are playing a major role in this. Digitization dominates the way we operate, make decisions and react to a situation. As the world is growing more and more connected, the roles played by smart devices, intelligent apps and wearables are becoming more prominent. Lately, wearable technology is coming to the forefront and the futuristic companies can no longer ignore its growing impact on the new generation employees.
What do the numbers say about wearables?
According to Gartner’s predictions, the global wearable device market is expected to be worth more than $84 billion in 2022 and it also forecasts that the global shipment of wearable devices will touch 225 million in 2019 – a clear rise of 25.8% from 2018. It has also predicted that the total end-user spend on wearable devices will touch $42 billion in 2019. Of all wearable devices, the smartwatch is expected to top the popularity list, closely followed by ear-worn devices (hearables), which according to Gartner will take over as the highest shipped wearable devices by 2022.
As per Gartner predictions, ear-worn devices like Samsung’s IconX, Apple AirPods, and Plantronics’ BackBeat FIT will account for over 30% of total shipped devices. Apart from smartwatches and ear-worn devices, techies are also exploring other immersive devices like head-mounted displays (HMD), AR and VR devise, smart clothing.
Wearables are impacting the workplace and the employees big time
The above numbers clearly show the increasing trend of wearable-technology usage among consumers but at the same time, it also hints towards its growing dominance in enterprises. With a year on year growth of 16%, wearables have made their ways inside office premises wherein the new generation employees are more comfortable using these connected devices like fitness trackers to stay constantly aware of their health and fitness conditions. Talking about that, Gartner anticipated that around 2 million employees would be asked to wear health and fitness trackers as an employment condition.
Till now, products like Jawbone, Fitbit, and Bellabeat have already gained popularity amongst working executives. The trends indicate that the future generation will be more open to using ear-worn devices. Their integration with virtual personal assistants will make them even more intriguing to users.
Today’s generation is embracing wearable technology as a part of lifestyle maintenance driven by a strong sense of well-being and health. Jiff and Willis Tower Watson held a webinar in 2016 where they presented the state of employer-sponsored wearables and their growing influence at the workplace.
Some crucial insights about the usage of wearable technology at work
- The current generation is more aware and cautious about their overall health, wellbeing and work-life balance. They understand that factors like lack of sleep, lethargy, and illness (mental and physical) can adversely affect their productivity and performance at work, which will indirectly impact their sense of fulfillment and career goals. The problems around weight loss, fitness level, and sleep aid are real, and in this juncture, employers are also extending their support to the employees.
- It is interesting to know that wearable technologies are used in varied ways within companies. For instance, lone field workers can use a smartwatch integrated with an intelligent app, which can be used as a panic button in distress situations or check-in tool in distant locations. Hospital workers or caregivers can opt to wear ID badges that can send a secret audio call during emergency cases, to a special call center that can send help at the earliest. Field workers might start using smart glasses to take part in virtual video conferences with other professionals.
- PWC studies and findings have confirmed that more than 75 million wearables will pervade the workplace globally by 2020 wherein a large number of employees will wear a fitness band or smartwatch. Employers in the future will hence be more proactive in using the data collected in these wearables to better manage, track, evaluate and influence employee behavior towards maintaining better health and well being at work. It is evident by these facts that employees’ health and wellbeing have a direct effect on their mindset, productivity, and performance at work, which employers cannot ignore anymore.
In fact, more and more employers are persuading employees to use wearable devices. This will help the companies track the employees’ sleeping pattern, stress and fatigue issues, fitness level, necessary movements, postures, and musculoskeletal issues to ensure that they stay alert about any warning signals. After all, a healthy employee will ultimately lead to better work performance, satisfaction and positivity at work, enhanced engagement and less absenteeism, driven by overall wellness of mind and body. If smart devices and technology can promote such an environment, it is meant to be a win-win for both executives and organizations at the same time.