First Step's First: How to Approach Wearables in Your Workplace

Written BY

Emily Friedman

March 21, 2016

Written by Special Guest Blogger Sharon Oleniczak, Manager, Innovation Systems, Newell Rubbermaid

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Wearable Technology (WT) is growing rapidly and the possibilities in enterprise continue to expand. As businesses begin to consider utilizing WT they must identify where it will be most effective.

Successful problem solving depends on knowing where to start. WT is no different. As an emerging field with the potential to help business on many fronts, how do we decide the best fit?

If you step back and look, no matter what area of the organization you work in, there are probably a multitude of opportunities to use WT. By observing behavior and processes, patterns will begin to emerge to help you identify where it can bring change and improvement. To begin:

  • Compare your current processes and experiences to the ideal you aspire to
  • Look at how trends and influences impact the industry you are in
  • Invite others to share alternate points of view and expertise
  • Explore the technologies that are available today and what’s being worked on for tomorrow
  • Use that collective knowledge to define the problem you will solve and potential solutions to consider

As a global consumers goods company, Newell Rubbermaid is always exploring ways to integrate technology as a means to deliver better products and experiences to our consumers. I thought it would be interesting to ask the people involved in that work about their own wearable technology and see what it might reveal about potential organizational applications.

What I heard was not unexpected. The people who responded were using WT to stay connected and focused–a flexible support system to keep them on track personally and professionally. WT helped them monitor their health and wellbeing and allowed them to minimize distractions in meetings, and prioritize and communicate more effectively both in and out of the office. It offered convenience, efficiency, and mobility other devices can’t provide.

From an organizational standpoint, my inquiry made me wonder how we might enlist WT to do or achieve the following:

Improved Response: Collection and delivery of data, alerts and reminders
Personalize Experiences: Customized content, real-time news and information
Connect Individuals: Expedite communication for individuals on teams, with experts, and in communities
Optimize Process: Enable multi-tasking, streamline workflow, improve productivity
Cultural Innovation: Promote idea sharing, expand contributor base, encourage collaboration across locations and disciplines
Support Health & Wellbeing: Encourage healthy lifestyles and habits, monitor activities and vitals
Safety: provide alerts, monitor moods, and deliver distress notifications and locations

Standard issue for our employees is a phone, laptop or tablet. The primary wearable technology provided by the organization is a smart badge used to access the building and certain equipment. Headsets and ear pieces are available for those who would like them. But is that enough for today? Should we take cues from workers’ personal use to align with our organizational strategy and goals?

WT has great potential for business. Break out of the norm and explore new solutions with WT. Locations of wearables are assumed to be predominantly wrist worn, but you should think about that as the first frontier of wearables. Employing the right technologies today will enable you to advance with them into the future.

Please Note:

Sharon will be speaking on the Cultural and Organizational Challenges of wearables in the workplace at EWTS East. In addition, she will be leading a closed-door workshop breakfast dedicated to Innovating with Enterprise Wearables on Day 2 of the conference. Learn more about Sharon here.

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