Imagine, you are back in the year 2019 – a year of rushing to beat the traffic, clinking your cutting chai glasses in the middle of a long workday, and the year before screens of every size became our best friends. Those are days long gone but I bet you still felt an adrenaline rush thinking of days past. The world is different now - we all evolved in the last two years and the transition has been nothing if not fast - necessitated by business and social compulsions. This only goes to show that the possibility and scale of change in humans is enormous and has not yet been tested to its potential.
It’s said that a habit takes 21 days to form, but we adapted and adapted to new norms in less than 14 days. And soon enough we were exploring new technology to stay connected for our betterment and yet disconnected world. The American entrepreneur, Matt Mullenweg rightly said, “Technology is best when it brings people together.”
Instead of asking someone to repeat themselves to understand what they said we went to, “Hey, I can’t seem to hear you, there must be an internet issue”, we have lived through two digitally evolved years. The digital evolution, or should I say revolution, these last two years, has increased the adoption of smart wearables manifolds, be it smartwatches or earbuds. It has impacted the functioning of individuals, FOR GOOD I must add. These compact yet powerful devices have got people hooked on them. The craze behind smart wearables is evident but what makes for an even more interesting discussion is have wearables improved the productivity of working professionals?
Over the years, there has been a significant rise in organisations adopting digital/ automated processes to increase working efficiency. Most recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) has encouraged the same organizations to adopt connected technology to maximize their capabilities across the enterprise. Today, with organisations turning to the hybrid model of working, companies are trying to take advantage of wearable technology to increase workforce efficiency and efficacy.
The ‘Human Cloud at Work’ study conducted by Rackspace, revealed that organizations that have integrated wearable technologies have seen employee productivity rise by 8.5 per cent. This also led to job satisfaction increasing by 3.5%. This clearly indicates that smart wearables are the next leap in talent analytics and are driving workplace productivity.
With the onset of working from home, I am certain that no one missed a single notification or update, thanks to smart gadgets on the wrist. While adjusting to hybrid or remote work culture took time, professionals quickly realised that in addition to maintaining their performance, they also needed to stay active, healthy, and entertained. An interesting fact that the study highlights is that people using wearables were more aware about their activities and productivity levels which in turn motivated them to manage their time and work better.
Smartwatches offer myriads of features that help individuals take charge of their daily tasks and complete them quicker and with ease. From using the voice commands to dictate emails to sending short messages or to track their physical movements, water intake, SpO2, heart rate, stress, breathing exercises, stretching, etc., these devices have enabled us to tirelessly complete tasks without compromising on fitness and health. SpO2 has emerged as an important measure for fitness over the last two years. It is satisfying to keep a check on it from time to time just in case any medical assistance is required.
On the other hand, earbuds let you answer calls hands free, which makes it easier to make notes or go on with other tasks, thereby boosting productivity. Features like ANC and ENC take care of the background noise to further enhance the quality of audio experience.
And in case, you’re out running an errand during office hours, and forget a crucial meeting that was scheduled, your smartwatch will notify you. You can also pick up the call via your earbuds while you drive back home, and it is really happening out there.
One hack that I use is two different earbuds, one of each in my ears, one is connected to the laptop and other is connected to my mobile phone. Now, I do not have to look at my laptop or stay alert for the calls and notifications on my laptop and my smartphone at the same time. I can now help my wife with the household chores and spend time with my one-year-old daughter. Transparency mode ensures that I hear every single conversation around my house. Let’s agree, that’s the new norm we have been following, right? In the evening and on weekends, the earbuds morph into my entertainment partner while I play games or watch Shark Tank India. My smartwatches also help me keep track of my running and other exercise routines.
Interestingly, these wearables have become such an important part of our life that we are even seeing them as a fashion accessory that we would change as per the occasion or outfit of the day. That’s the level of acceptance we are seeing, and this would only increase in the time to come.
Wearables have helped working professionals ease into a hybrid working environment, enabling it to be distraction free and with improved communication. Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at the Institute of Management Studies, Goldsmith, University of London said, and I quote, “Wearable technologies are arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing so it’s natural that employees and businesses will look to use these devices in the workplace.” It is only fair to say that smart wearables will become a norm and set benchmarks to measure productivity leading to an improved, healthy, and efficient work environment.
I am a passionate believer in the endless potential that smart wearables offer and with the kind of mainstreaming we have seen of this technology over the past 24 months, combined with great investments being made by industry, we can only imagine the kind of innovations and disruptions coming our way. And trust me this is all going to be for the benefit of the consumers at the end of the day.