How Wearable Technology Will Affect the Workplace


While the much-hyped Google Glass was a colossal failure, that does not mean wearable technology in the workplace is destined to go the way of the Edsel. In fact, some tech experts predict that wearable devices will one day make laptops, smartphones and tablets about as useful as an 8-track tape player.

A new XpertHR podcast looks at whether wearable technology will be the “next big thing” with Atlanta management-side attorney Tracy Moon Jr. of the nationwide US labor and employment firm of Fisher & Phillips.

“This is really the next step for technology,” Moon says in noting that employers continue to look for ways to improve efficiency and productivity. “Google Glass was an innovation that really wasn’t designed for a specific need,” explains Moon. “If it was designed to satisfy a specific need of a business, it probably would be successful.”

According to Moon, a major plus for employers is that many of the wearable devices being developed, if used correctly, can help ensure a safer work environment. In addition, they offer benefits for disabled employees in enabling them to perform the essential functions of their job.

But wearable devices bring risks with them too, most notably in the privacy arena. As a result, Moon says employers need to have a legitimate, nondiscriminatory business reason for using these devices and they need to limit the information they obtain to what is truly business-related information.

Another risk as these devices become smaller and more powerful is that employees will use them unbeknownst to the employer. “Disgruntled employees could use the technology to transmit a meeting to an attorney or government agency in real time without the notice and consent of the employer,” he says.

While the technology remains new, Moon advises that it’s not too early for employers to adopt a wearable technology policy. For instance, he notes that Apple pushing its Apple Watch is going to increase the likelihood that employees will wear this device at work. As a result, Moon says that makes it more important for employers to review employee use of this technology and amend their policies, practices and procedures.

For more of Moon’s insights on how wearable technology could affect the workplace, tune in to this XpertHR podcast.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.