By: Lauren Liddle on October 8th, 2018

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Pros Vs. Cons: Wearable Smartwatches in the Workplace

HR Tech

Technology is always innovating, and employees rely on business leaders to keep-up with the changes in today's modern workplace. One trend that is continuously gaining popularity is wearables, specifically smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Wear OS, which allows users to stay connected to their smartphones from afar.

While these wearables may seem like a distraction in the workplace, employers are finding that the promotion of smartwatches can enhance the employee experience and business productivity. What are the possible pros and cons of this technology in your workplace?

Pros Vs. Cons: Smartwatches at Work

Pro: Allows employees to stay on top of notifications- personal and professional

Promoting wearables can assist employees with staying on schedule, both professionally and personally, which enhances productivity as well as work/life balance. An employee with a smartwatch can receive email notifications, calendar alerts, calls, texts, news alerts, and other programmed notifications. Receiving and previewing these messages on a smartwatch allows the employee to determine if the notification is something that needs to be addressed immediately, as soon as possible, or eventually, and gives the employee quick control over their daily notifications and responsibilities.

Pro: Promotes a healthy lifestyle

Many health apps are available on smartwatches and they can be used to promote healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Health apps can allow employees to track their nutrition, track their activity, take a movement break, and even take a quick mindfulness break. These features promote quick physical and mental breaks throughout the workday which can keep your employees’ stamina strong. They also promote overall health which is good for your employee and your benefits premiums. Additionally, activity apps can be used in culture initiatives, such as a monthly step challenge, to promote healthy employees and engage them in company activities.

Pro: Workplace apps are available

As technology continues to advance, so do the apps on wearable watches. Overtime, businesses may be able to utilize wearables to sign-in to meetings, project a financials presentation, or even have a holographic call. We anticipate e-learning to become even more accessible with wearables. For now, certain apps can be used to assist business functions. Smartwatches allow employees to take notes, create to-do lists, preview important emails, be on-time for meetings, and much more. There are also certain softwares that are smartwatch accessible. For example, mobile security platform Usher replaces traditional forms of enterprise security such as ID cards, passwords, and physical keys with a mobile badge on a user’s smartphone or smartwatch. ZOHO Books also has a smartwatch application that allows users to check balances, submit invoices, track time, and more.

Pro: Enhances everyday tasks

Smartwatches enable employees to do quick math, set timers and alarms, monitor parking meters, review traffic patterns, make payments, receive travel notifications, check the weather, order lunch, and more. While these functions may seem basic, it’s often the simple innovations that can save us time and make our daily tasks easier.

Con: Your phone has to be somewhat close-by

Like much of the wireless technology today, smartwatches are connected through Bluetooth. One limitation of Bluetooth is that the primary device (i.e., smartphone or laptop) has to be within 300 ft. of the secondary device. So, while your employee can put their phone away during a meeting and still receive a notification when the next meeting begins, their phone has to be in the room, on a nearby desk, or in their nearby bag.

Solution: Promote smartwatches, but don’t live by them. Ensure employees know that they can be unplugged after hours or during meetings, but that smartwatches may be able to assist them in their productivity and time management.

Con: Wearables may be distracting during no-phone meetings, seminars, etc.

Wearing smartwatches keeps users consistently connected to their virtual responsibilities. While this can be a good thing, wearables can also be distracting if a user has multiple calls, messages, and notifications coming in. Additionally, social media, sports, and gaming apps can be used on smartwatches which can also cause more distraction from work.

Solution: Remind employees of company technology and personal time management policies, and ensure work responsibilities are completed. If possible, a company can provide smartwatch to employees for little to no cost. This can be seen as an enticing benefit and it also allows the employer to designate the watch as company property and monitor how it is used.

Promoting wearables in the workplace can be gradual or swift depending on your company’s culture and goals. Start small by taking a poll of the wearables in your office and the interest in smartwatches. By testing out wearables in your workplace, you continue down the path of innovation and show your employees that you value progress, productivity, and professional/personal time management.