BYOD 2.0: Wearables in the Workplace


Robert Half Technology tracks trends in the workplace, and one area we’ve been watching closely is the impact of mobile workers and the technology considerations around this phenomenon.

As a natural progression of the wearables in the workplace trend, we recently conducted a survey of 2,400 chief information officers (CIOs) about the use of wearables in the workplace. Examples of wearables include the Apple Watch, Fitbit devices or clothing items with chips and sensors.

Our survey has generated much interest and discussion, and was enlightening on two fronts: First, four in five CIOs think wearables will be commonplace workplace technology. Second, and more specifically, 50 percent of CIOs are predicting wearables in the workplace will be a reality in the next five years.  

Wearables make it easy to measure productivity

The pros and the cons of wearables in the workplace are similar to those associated with smartphones and tablets just a few years ago. For companies, there is the opportunity to measure employee workflow and productivity through these devices. And for employees, wearables can enhance their ability to do their work more efficiently.

But there are also privacy and security concerns

One potential concern about wearables is privacy. For example, what are the employee privacy issues for a technology that’s not only used by an employee for work, but actually worn? Employers may have more insight than ever into their workers’ productivity, interests, habits and location.

There also will be increased concern around workplace security. Could sensitive data fall into the wrong hands by connecting wearables to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, or using poor online security practices? Can data on wearable devices be wiped easily if they’re lost, similar to smartphones or tablets?

Employers may have these questions, as well:

  • What is the benefit to businesses of allowing wearables in the workplace?
  • Will employees be allowed to access company systems and networks with these devices?
  • What policies should be adopted and communicated to employees around the dos and don’ts associated with wearables in the workplace?

There are many more questions than answers at this point, but early indications are that this technology will become more pervasive over the next few years.

Technology and business leaders have the “bring your own device” (BYOD) road map to guide them through this evolution in technology. But what wearable technology might look like (and what it will be able to do) within just the next few years could present challenges never faced with BYOD.

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, I would like to hear your comments on the wearables in the workplace trend.

Thank you.

Tags: Wearables