Workers around the world surveyed by Harris Poll for The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated expressed a willingness to make use of wearable technology in the workplace. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of online adults said they see at least one potential benefit to using wearable technology in the workplace.
Responses to the survey varied among online adults (18 and over) surveyed across Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the U.S. Nearly half of U.S. adults (48 percent) see benefits in using wearable technologies in the workplace, such as increasing efficiency, productivity and safety. While substantial, that was the lowest among all countries, according to Kronos’s “Wearables at Work” report. Ninety-six percent believe that to be the case among those surveyed in Mexico, which had the highest percentage.
The study revealed other differences in the use of wearable technology among countries. Just five percent of U.S. adults use smart headphones as compared to 61 percent of adults in China, for example. Similarly, only five percent of U.S. adults use fitness monitors as compared to 21 percent of adults in China.
Furthermore, while 20 percent of U.S. adults have worn wearable tech, such as headsets, smart badges or bar-code scanners, for work purposes, 82 percent in India and Mexico have. So have 56 percent of adults surveyed in Germany, 45 percent in France, 43 percent in Australia and 38 percent in the U.K.
Only eight percent of U.S. adults have used telephone headsets, either wired or Bluetooth devices, in the workplace. That compares with 60 percent in China and India, 52 percent in Mexico, 26 percent in Germany, 22 percent in Australia, 18 percent in the U.K. and 16 percent in France.
Perception of Wearables
Across all countries, three reasons emerged as the key factors that motivate employees to make use of wearable tech in the workplace: It made them more efficient; it improved work/life balance; and their employer approved the device. One-third of U.S. adults felt that improving their workplace efficiency would make them more likely to use wearable tech. That compares to 62 percent in Mexico, 60 percent in China, 58 percent in India, 45 percent in Germany, 42 percent in Australia, 41 percent in the U.K. and 37 percent in France.
Increasing safety for staff and customers was the number one factor for making use of wearable tech for business purposes from the group or company perspective. Twenty-seven percent of U.S. adults, 28 percent of those in France, 35 percent in the U.K., 38 percent in Germany, 43 percent in Australia, 49 percent in China, 54 percent in Mexico and 56 percent in India said the potential to make them more efficient at work would make them more likely to use wearable tech for business purposes.
Worldwide, the top three wearable devices adults in most countries claim would be useful in their current workplace are smart headphones, smart watches, and arm/wrist computing devices. But only 20 percent of employed U.S. adults feel smart watches would be helpful in their current position, compared with 56 percent in China, 49 percent in India, 40 percent in Mexico, 33 percent in Australia, 26 percent in G.B., and 21 percent in both France and Germany.
In the U.S., the survey revealed a positive sign that use of wearable tech in the workplace will increase. Respondents who identified themselves as students had a much higher use of and interest in wearable tech:
- While only 13 percent of all U.S. adults say they use wearable devices in their personal lives, 21 percent of adult students do;
- Seventy-two percent of U.S. students see at least one way wearable technologies could benefit the workplace as opposed to 48 percent of overall U.S. adults;
- From a personal perspective, 85 percent of online students see at least one potential business-related benefit that would make them more likely to use wearable technology for work-related purposes, as opposed to 66 percent of U.S. adults overall.
- 31 percent of employed U.S. adults don’t have any concerns about using wearable tech in the workplace.
“There’s a strong belief that wearable technology will take off in the workplace before the home because devices such as smart watches, intelligent ID badges, and fitness and health monitors can provide organizations with uncharted data collection points to greatly improve safety, productivity, collaboration, and overall workplace effectiveness. And while more and more types of wearable technologies have hit the market, the concept of wearables at work isn’t new,” commented Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos.
“Workers have been wearing uniforms, safety gear, ID badges, communications headsets, and so on for years to do their jobs better. This survey shows a marked difference in how wearable devices are used and perceived around the world, and people who use new wearable technologies in their personal lives tend to see more potential benefits in the workplace. The more comfortable we become with wearables, the more apt we are to leverage these technologies in the workplace.”