Nov 03 2014

Is There Value to Wearable Technology in the Workplace?

A recent poll shows that optimism toward wearables in the workplace is closely tied to personal use of the technology.

Does wearable technology have a viable future in the workplace? The answer is a confident yes, according to the “Wearables at Work” survey conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos, a human resources software and services company based in Massachusetts. Around the world, 73 percent of adults responding to the September 2014 online poll said they see some potential workplace benefits from the use of wearable technology.

There was a strong correlation between embracing wearables at work and countries that already have high levels of personal use of the technology.

“People who use new wearable technologies in their personal lives tend to see more potential benefits in the workplace,” commented Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos. In this regard, the U.S. is behind the curve.

In India and Mexico, adults that have used wearable technology in their personal lives (82 percent of respondents in both countries) showed great support for wearables in the workplace (91 percent and 96 percent respectively). In contrast, only 13 percent of U.S. respondents said they use wearables in their personal lives and lower support for using wearables at work (48 percent).

But attitudes in the U.S. will likely grow friendlier over time. Student respondents showed a much greater comfort with the technology than U.S. adults overall, with 85 percent seeing some business-related benefit from wearable technology compared to 66 percent of adults overall.

“The more comfortable we become with wearables, the more apt we are to leverage these technologies in the workplace,” said Maroney.

One area where there was global consensus was what respondents believed would ultimately drive broader adoption of business-related wearables: greater efficiency, improved work/life balance and company-paid devices. Respondents pointed to these three areas as key reasons why they would consider using wearable technology at their jobs. Another data point where there was agreement around the globe was on the types of devices thought to be most useful in the workplace: smart headphones, smart watches and arm/wrist computing devices.