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Wearables in the workplace

Where’s the best place to keep the most recent technology? Once upon a time it would have lived on your desk. In your pocket, even. But not anymore. These days, the most cutting-edge technology is part of your wardrobe.

Wearables have been hitting the headlines for some time now. Here at Capita, we’ve written about the potential of wearables and their slow (yet steady) progression into everyday life. Aesthetics, privacy and cost are three hurdles for widespread adoption that are already being addressed – and with considerable success.

Of course, for some sectors the challenges have not prevented progress. You’ll be aware of the impact they’ve made on the health and fitness market, but you may not realise how close wearables are to making their mark on a cross-section of businesses, too. 

In the early stages of their lifecycle, wearables are yet to have their defining iPhone moment. However, they are poised and ready to take centre stage. They have mainstream user adoption in their sights. Is your business ready?

Benefits to business

At the core of wearable technology is a fundamental shift away from all-singing, all-dancing functionality to a philosophy that centres more on accessibility. What wearables deliver to users is virtually instant access to information within a comparatively modest platform. 

This is of huge value to businesses, for a number of reasons. Wearables offer an enhanced, more reactive level of customer service, they can be used to create incentive-based healthcare schemes, and provide yet another screen on which to display brand advertising and more.  

Research conducted by the University of London concluded that wearable technologies can boost staff productivity by 8.5% and job satisfaction by 3.5%. The study revealed that a single employee could create at least 30GB of data each week from three wearables. This data is of huge significance to employers who can store and analyse it in order to understand the factors affecting productivity, performance and job satisfaction. 

Bring your own…

Wearable technology is also prompting the almost universally-accepted practice of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to take its next big step. Businesses will soon see the deployment of wearable devices in the workplace, signalling the arrival of BYOW (bring your own wearable), or WYOD (wear your own device) depending on who you are talking to. 

According to a study conducted by Forrester Research, wearables will be commonplace among some employees working for many businesses by 2020.

Wearables of choice

So which wearables are we most likely to see integrated into tomorrow’s businesses? Smart watches continue to be the wearable of choice in workplace deployments. 

According to a survey conducted by Salesforce Research, 62% of those questioned are using, piloting or scheduled to use smart watches in a business context in the next 48 months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the Apple Watch that is garnering the most attention, but nearly a dozen different Android Wear devices will go on sale prior to Christmas this year(2015).

According to Bob O’Donnell head of TECHnalysis Research, in 2020 smart watches will still be popular but augmented reality glasses will also start to make their mark in the workplace.

The future of wearables

There’s no question that certain industries lend themselves perfectly to wearable technology. Engineering, manufacturing and pharma are just three. As the use of wearables becomes more fully established in these core industries, their adoption will spread to other sectors, too.

As we see the emergence of the Workplace of Things, spurred on by our smarter, more flexible, mobile workforce, the demand is most certainly there for these next-generation technologies.

So, gird your wrists. If they’re not there already, wearables will be coming to your business very soon.
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