Big Brother is iWatching: Should Employers Be Relayed Info from Apple’s Latest Tech?

21st April 2015
Apple_iWatch

How much personal information do you think your employers should know? The new Apple iWatch can monitor all sorts of things and relay some very specific information to employers, but would you want them to know your blood pressure or heart rate?

Apple Watch is Watching
Wearable technology is fast becoming some of the most sought after tech in recent years. With the introduction of the new Apple Watch, amongst other smart tech, all sorts information can be gathered particularly with regards to health. Smartwatches and fitness trackers offer a range of features such as heart rate monitoring, pedometers or time-tracking, but should an employer have access to this kind of information?

A new survey commissioned by PwC has found that a large percentage of employees would not be adverse to sharing certain types of information with employers should it be used to improve working conditions. 41% of respondents said they would not be comfortable with their employers knowing personal information, however 56% said it would not be a problem if it led to a better work/life balance with aspects such as flexible working, health screening and options for remote working. But what kind of information are employees willing to share?

How Personal Can It Get?
From the collection of people who would be happy to share certain data, 62% would allow their employers to know their blood pressure and 61% would share their heart rate with bosses. Giving this data to employers could promote a healthier workplace, with employers becoming aware of parts of the day or aspects of the job that prove the most stressful for the highest number of people, thereby allowing changes to be made to the working day to improve productivity and morale.

Time-tracking data, such as the time is takes for an employee to get to work in the morning, could be valuable information for employers if they wish to implement a flexible hours or remote working scheme. 71% of respondents said they would not mind their employers knowing the duration of their daily commute and 66% would have no problem having their arrival and departure from work tracked, allowing employers to utilise the work day better.

Sharing is Caring?
The PwC survey also suggested a strong link between the age of respondents and those who wanted to share their personal information. Just 40% of those over the age of 55 would support information sharing, whereas 70% of 18-30 year olds would not be adverse to it. This could be due to safety and privacy concerns of older generations when it comes to changing technology just as much as greater concerns over our health as we get older that we might not want to share with an employer.  Younger generations may be more active online and more accepting and excited by the prospect of wearable tech and could be more willing to support the use of this data. 

The advances in technology could be seen as leading to a Big Brother mentality in which personal information crosses into a more public domain. However, as the survey suggests, many people are willing to give out information if it is used to create a better working environment. With a strong focus on the work/life balance, many companies are looking for ways to keep employees engaged and productive without creating too much stress, and perhaps, knowing the signals of such stress through data will lead to a better understanding of how to prevent it.

*Image credit

"many people are willing to give out information if it is used to create a better working environment."