Big Brother at work?

Your employer may already include wearable devices as part of a wellness programme to encourage tracking of health outcomes – but what about systems that keep an eye on performance?

Two Canadian companies were recently granted patents to have employees wearing wristbands that – through ultrasonic sound pulses and other clever tech – monitor how they perform their assigned tasks.

Obviously a big tick in the efficiency box, and potentially safety too, depending on the work environment, systems like these are also highly controversial as individuals could feel micromanaged at a time when they want to feel empowered.

In fact, recent research by TalkTalk Business revealed that, whilst more than half (53 per cent) of employees are up for using wearable tech to boost their own productivity at work, three quarters (74 per cent) said a firm no to the device being used to monitor performance.

So, if your company is considering piloting something like this, staff buy-in is essential – be upfront about how the data will be used and build trust with the team by showing you keep promises and prioritise their interests.

Deloitte Canada did just this when determining the effectiveness of its workplace renovations. It piloted tracking devices that helped determine whether their new office spaces improved collaboration and, because of how it was framed, employees were extremely eager to get involved.

When they did, sensors on the device noted who each employee spoke to, where in the office they went and even the emotion in their voice, though they didn’t track the specific words.