Hi-tech watches are just the beginning, but what a start! Now you can improve your health by monitoring every step you take, and every moment you sleep.
That’s fine if you’re a sports fanatic and it’s voluntary. It’s fine if you are choosing to improve your health. But in the world of management, ethics are now a valid concern.
Should employers be allowed to track every detail of employees’ productivity, as Tesco does in its distribution centre in Ireland? When will companies start tracking people’s sleep and drinking habits too, outside work, with incentives to comply? After all, you can already lower your insurance premiums as a young driver if you accept telematics (via a GPS tracking device). Now BP will pay $1,000 towards health insurance if you wear a device and hit targets.
These technologies won’t just be for monitoring. They have evolved over 50 years in military and other applications, focused on performance enhancement as well as behaviour change.
Wellness programmes at work could become performance programmes. Small-scale research already finds an 8% productivity gain from wearable technology.
Our performance is impacted daily by the technology in our pockets. People consult their phones on average more than 150 times per day (200+ in the UK), so every software update in the way phones are accessed will impact our efficiency 150 times daily. Then the Google Glass experiment demonstrated hands-free control and even augmented reality. Employers: pay close attention, for security reasons too. Bugging devices are now on every employee.
As with most advances in science and technology, caution is wise, but fear is not the best guide. There will be huge gains for individuals and organisations that experiment (as 29% of UK companies are). But the wise will focus as much on workplace trust as on the latest tech.
It’s here: Wearable Tech.