Wearables are fast becoming part of 'always on' corporate culture
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Wearables are fast becoming part of 'always on' corporate culture

November 13, 2014

Source: Fortune

More businesses see smart watches, glasses and other digital gadgets as essential elements of long-range plans for improving worker wellness and productivity.

Could wearing smart eyeglasses, watches, or other digital gadgets eventually become a workplace requirement?

At least 72% of the 2,009 U.S. workers responding to a survey sponsored by the software company Cornerstone OnDemand think it’s possible. In fact, at least 66% of the respondents would willingly embrace this, a 7% increase over last year’s survey on the same topic.

“We now live in a world where physical presence is optional, lines between work and life are increasingly blurred by tech, and flex schedules are viewed by employees as a right, not a perk,” says Cornerstone OnDemand CEO Adam Miller. “Employers who empower their people to get their work done in the best ways possible, where it is through policies, resources or workplace culture, are best positioned to attract and retain top talent. Fortunately, cloud and mobile tech is making it easier to intertwine physical and virtual workspaces in ways that still encourage collaboration and connectivity.

The data dovetails with two other recent surveys suggesting wearables will make an impact in the workplacemore quickly than in the average individual’s personal life. Some large businesses encourage this through employee engagement programs and incentives. Up to 80% of the Cornerstone OnDemand survey respondents indicated they would be “motivated” to use wearable technologies that track health and wellness metrics. Those who were reluctant would change their minds for monetary benefits such as a bonus, reduced health insurance premiums, or discounted exercise programs.

Seattle-based Limeade, which sells technology for managing employee engagement initiatives, reports a higher level of participation from workers who are using fitness tracking devices and apps in conjunction with its application. These devices record metrics from “walking meetings” (where individuals meet in motion rather than sit in a conference room) or contests to see which employees can walk to nearby lunch spots most quickly. “It allows companies to connect their workforce in a low-stress way,” says Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht.

The company raised $25 million in late October led by Oak HC/FT (the same team behind Athenahealth, Castlight Health, and Benefitfocus) and existing investor TVC Capital. Limeade has more than 100 large business clients, including Green Mountain Coffee, Jamba Juice, MolsonCoors, and Nokia.

“We see two trends that make companies like Limeade,” Albrecht says. “One is healthcare costs have gone up 80% in the past decade, and the other is that people are feeling increasingly disengaged at work.”

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