More and more companies are focusing on improving the health and wellness of their employees and they’re turning to wearables to do just that.
Wearables for employees come in different forms. Just as smartwatches and fitness trackers track their heart rate and stress, other wearables such as smart patches can track their blood pressure and blood oxygen levels while smart goggles augment workers’ vision with information overlays that aid decision-making, reports JLL.
“We invest so much in the healthy, productive workplace – such as sensors measuring occupancy, air quality and movement – yet the most important metric is its impact on individuals,” says Andrew O’Donnell, UK Real Estate and Workplace Director at JLL. “Employers are recognizing this and seeing wearables as a way to understand whether and how they can improve employee wellness.”
A growing market
A new report from Gartner finds worldwide end-user spending on wearable devices to total $81.5 billion in 2021, an 18.1% increase from $69 billion in 2020.
The rise in remote work and increased interest in health monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant factor driving market growth.
“The introduction of health measures to self-track COVID-19 symptoms, along with increasing interest from consumers in their personal health and wellness during global lockdowns, presented a significant opportunity for the wearables market,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner. “Ear-worn devices and smartwatches are seeing particularly robust growth as consumers rely on these devices for remote work, fitness activities, health tracking, and more.”
Mental health in the workplace has long been a concern for employers. Covid-19 lockdowns and remote working have worsened the issue.
Moodbeam is a wristband that allows employers to track their workers’ emotional health. Developed by a UK startup, the device allows its wearer to log how they feel at the click of a button.
While passive wearables like smartwatches monitor environmental factors, active wearables enhance a worker’s ability to complete a particular task. For example, exoskeletons allow workers to lift heavy objects without straining their backs.
Wearables for employees are still in its infancy. One challenge is adoption, which is still far from widespread, says O’Donnell.
In the future, workplaces will benefit greatly from using wearables, predicts Anna Szlagor, from the Research and Consulting team at JLL.
Big companies might incorporate medical-grade devices like blood glucose-detecting rings or ECG patches into occupational health programs.
Instead of using smartphones, employees could use smartwatches to access smart buildings and log into hot desks or customize temperature and lighting preferences, the JLL report said.