Future Friday: Looking At Your Employees Through a Digital Lens

According to a paper by Gartner, businesses need to now look at their world though a digital lens. This means that businesses need to look at people and things in a different way to maximize and better understand the opportunities that are available. I think this can be applied to employees as well.

The Internet of Things

By this time, most of you have heard of the Internet of Things. This is the world of devices being able to communicate with each other. Humans are increasingly being included in the world of the Internet of Things. As we continue to connect ourselves to the world and broadcast our behavior, our location and our habits, that data becomes more readily available to our employers. As the report says, “Digital businesses will rely on greater access to personal behavior to understand the digital effect on people’s lifestyles and how they will use the IoT to improve themselves and their behaviors.”

The world of work

Many studies have found that there are a number of things that affect how well people work, and under what conditions. Mood, health, alertness, schedule, collaboration, time of day and much more have the potential for allowing companies to improve conditions for employees. There are a number of devices that can measure employees. These devices can be in their physical locality or on their person. A room may measure activity, or it may be measured by a Fitbit. A device could measure tone of voice to determine stress levels. Other devices could measure body temperature for health. Other applications could measure how often employees interact with each other.

As a result of the data gathered, an employer could have the opportunity to develop a work environment that could maximize someone’s effectiveness and productivity. Their work environment could be tailored to present an environment and schedule that maximize their ability. It would have the added benefit of being flexible and adaptive to changing conditions of the employee.


Many people will think that using IoT will be an invasion of privacy. My contention is that privacy is already an illusion. Most people are already willing to allow the government a large dose of intrusion in the name of security and safety. How hard will it be to go the next step and allow access to your bio and behavioral data to improve your working conditions? Would you be willing to allow that access in order to make your day-to-day job ideal for how you work and when?

Many of us already eschew a good deal of privacy and post to the Internet where we are, how far we ran or walked, how many steps we took, where we are shopping, who we are seeing. And that doesn’t even count Facebook. I have written in the past about implanted devices in Is there an embeddable device in your future? Most current embedded devices don’t communicate with the outside world, but some do. The time of these devices being much more common and much more accepted is not far off. The movie Kingsman is all about people willing to implant devices to keep them safe.

We don’t yet have to go to the level of embedded devices, but wearables certainly provide us the opportunity to measure employees in a variety of ways. Hopefully we will use these for good and not the nefarious purposes people suspect.


Originally posted on Omega HR Solutions Blog.



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