Kronos Survey Indicates Workers Around the World are Poised to Embrace Wearable Technology
CHELMSFORD, Mass., Oct. 27, 2014 – A new survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Poll1 finds that workers around the world are ready to embrace wearable technology at work, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of online adults seeing at least one potential workplace benefit. The Kronos “Wearables at Work” survey examines the differences in perception and use of wearable technologies in the workplace of online adults ages 18 and older in Australia,China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Great Britain (G.B.), and the U.S.2
The world agrees that wearables could benefit the workplace. Seventy-three percent of adults around the world believe that wearable technologies could benefit the workplace in at least one way, including areas such as increasing efficiency, productivity, and safety.
- While nearly half of U.S. adults (48 percent) believe that wearable technologies could benefit the workplace, this substantial percentage was the lowest out of all other regions: 96 percent in Mexico, 94 percent in China, 91 percent in India, 72 percent in Germany, 69 percent in Australia and France, and 66 percent in G.B.
U.S. behind the curve for wearable technology use at home. Only 13 percent of U.S. adults currently use wearable devices in their personal lives as opposed to 73 percent of adults in China, the highest-ranking region. Other countries from high to low were: India (72 percent), Mexico (70 percent), Germany (40 percent), Australia (30 percent), G.B. (27 percent), and France (22 percent).
- For example, only five percent of U.S. adults use smart headphones, as opposed to 61 percent of adults in China.
- Likewise, only five percent of U.S. adults use fitness monitors, compared to 21 percent of adults in China.
Wearable technology use more prominent at work, especially in countries that have embraced personal use. Countries where adults have adopted wearable technology for personal use appear to use wearables for work-related activities as well, and adoption of wearable technology is higher at work than for personal use across the board.
- A whopping 82 percent of adults in India and Mexico, and 81 percent in China, have ever worn technologies such as headsets, smart badges, and barcode scanners forwork-related activities, as have more than half (56 percent) of adults in Germany. Only 20 percent of U.S., 38 percent of G.B., 43 percent of Australia, and 45 percent of France adults have used a wearable device for work-related activities.
- Only eight percent of U.S. adults have used telephone headsets (e.g., wired or Bluetooth-enabled devices) for work-related activities compared with 60 percent of adults in China and India, 52 percent in Mexico, 26 percent in Germany, 22 percent in Australia, 18 percent in G.B., and 16 percent in France.
Efficiency, work/life balance, and company-paid devices key to employee adoption. Around the globe, workers agree on the top-three reasons thatwould make them more likely from a personal perspective to use wearable technology for business-related use at their place of work: it made them more efficient; improved work/life balance; or if their employer provided the device.
- In the case of making workers more efficient, 33 percent of U.S. adults feel this is a reason that would make them more likely to use wearable technologies at work compared with 62 percent in Mexico, 60 percent in China, 58 percent in India, 45 percent in Germany, 42 percent in Australia, 41 percent in G.B., and 37 percent in France.
Improving safety consensus key to company-wide adoption. From a group or company perspective, increasing safety for staff and customers is the number-one factor that would make workers around the world more eager to use wearable technology for business-related purposes: 27 percent of U.S. adults, 28 percent in France, 35 percent in G.B., 38 percent in Germany, 43 percent in Australia, 49 percent in China, 54 percent in Mexico, and 56 percent in India.
Factors such as collaboration, customer satisfaction, competition, data usage, and company profitability vary by region. When considering a groupor company perspective, there were no definitive worldwide trends outside of safety that would make people more eager to adopt wearable technology for business-related purposes at work:
- Employed adults in China (40 percent), India (41 percent), and Mexico (36 percent) were more interested in using wearable technology to enable friendly workplace competition than other regions, and Germany joined these counties as the only ones to cite increased co-worker collaboration as a top-three reason they would be more eager to use wearables for business-related purposes at work.
- Australia (32 percent), Germany (40 percent), G.B. (31 percent), and U.S. (26 percent) adults point to policies that clearly show who has access to the device data as an important factor compared to other regions, yet improving customer satisfaction is a higher-ranked benefit than data concerns in every region except Germany and theU.S.
Which devices will win at work? Globally, the top-three wearable devices that adults in most countries claim would be useful in their current workplace position are smart headphones, smart watches, and arm/wrist computing devices. However, the percentages varied vastly with far more enthusiasm abroad:
- 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.
Positive sign for the future of wearables in the U.S. A highlight in the U.S. and perhaps a sign of things to come is that those who identified themselves as students had, overall, a much higher use of and interest in wearable technologies:
- 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 overall U.S. adults.
Nearly one-third of employed U.S. adults have no concerns about wearable adoption in the workplace. Another positive sign for U.S. adoption is that31 percent of employed U.S. adults have no concerns about using wearable technology in the workplace. And, while privacy was listed as the top potential concern of U.S. workers, less than half (44 percent) believe privacy could be an issue. Data security was the second-highest ranked concern, but only 35 percent of U.S. employed adults cite it as a potential issue – suggesting that data and privacy concerns will not be a substantial roadblock if benefits of wearable technologies in the workplace are realized.
Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos
“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. 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.”
- Note to editors: Cite survey as The Workforce Institute at Kronos “Wearables at Work” survey.
- Be on the lookout for an upcoming November Tweet Chat with board members from The Workforce Institute about wearable technology in the workplace under#WearablesAtWork.
- Take a look at the lighter side of workforce management in our Time Well Spent cartoons, includingthe most recent cartoon about wearable technology at work.
- Read a recent Workforce Institute blog on theWorkplace of the Future.
- Check out books published by The Workforce Institute at Kronos.
- Connect with The Workforce Institute at Kronos via Twitter.
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This survey was conducted online in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, G.B., and the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of Kronos from Sept. 8-16, 2014 among 9,126 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Workforce Institute at Kronos
The Workforce Institute provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations.For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.
About Kronos Incorporated
Kronos is the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Tens of thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries — including more than half of the Fortune 1000® — use Kronos to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity. Learn more about Kronos industry-specific time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics applications at www.kronos.com. Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works™.
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Footnote 1: This survey was conducted in September 2014.
Footnote 2: This survey was conducted online among adults ages 18 and older in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, G.B., and the U.S. and weighted to theonline population in the respective countries.