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Dangers: Wearable tech in the workplace

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How do you normally feel about being monitored at work?

Well imagine if you were monitored not only about what you’re doing on your work computers but by what your diet is, by what your exercise habits are and even by how you are sleeping at night.

A March 24 post in Popular Science says that a company called ‘The Outside View’ has been monitoring all of these behaviors of their employees using apps. The company has then encouraged workers to get personalized programs that aim to keep them healthier. The Outside View believes that if they can keep their staff healthy, they can keep them productive.

In addition to physical health, Outside View has also been tracking the staff’s day-to-day work such as scheduling habits, phone calls, and voice inflection and using that information to determine trends of their top salespeople.

Monitoring hasn’t only been utilized in white collar jobs, a company called Theatro produces specialized wearable tech specifically for retail centers to measure the performance of employees and improve their overall communication. Retailers such as The Container Store have already adopted other forms of wearable technology and apps as a way to improve communication and access information more quickly.

While being an early adopter is an admirable trait of a “hip” company, there leaves a much larger concern for proper work/life balance, privacy and freedom — think about the effects of having your company’s eyes on your every move, on a 24-hour basis.

With work emails linked to employee’s mobile phones, taking work home has been a long concern of many companies. Such practices have been a detriment to overall mental health. In fact, just this past December Yahoo posted an article on the drastic steps companies are taking to keep employees from thinking of work outside of the office.

Monitoring staff through wearable tech in both the workplace and at home hardly mitigates the concerns of employee burnout. The Chicago Tribune posted today that wearable tech in the workplace would allow busy parents to attend their children's events via the office, while watching through their smart gadgets.

The phrase, "work form home" may no longer apply, it may soon be "at home from work."

If The Outside View's overall goal is encouraging employee health, I suppose there’s plenty of room for debate on this.


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