The Internet of Things is booming with 7 billion connected objects in service in 2018 and more than 21.5 billion in 2025 according to IoT Analytics. After having been present everywhere in our daily lives, connected objects submerge the corporate world, to “ensure” the well-being of employees. The stated objective is to guarantee better working conditions by anticipating their needs through bracelets, headsets or connected applications, but the real question is whether employees would not be the target of a diversion to the company’s profit to increase its performance by controlling their activity?
Connected objects in the prevention of risks at work
At first sight, these connected objects offer a beautiful promise, that of ensuring maximum professional development for employees through the analysis of data and its environment.
For example, the French robot “Numii”, is the first connected object in the world to measure work difficulties by analyzing the workspace and the posture of employees. Or other connected objects give the possibility to automatically adjust certain working parameters (humidity, temperature, light, noise, air quality, odours, particles, vibrations) and edit balances to improve these factors.
These connected objects even go so far as to train users such as the connected cushion by studying the posture, habits and stress level of employees in order to support them in the position to be taken.
Measure the employee’s stress level
Companies hope to be able to know how stressed their employees are in order to provide them with appropriate responses based on their condition.
There is an activity tracker that is worn on a pin (chest or belt) and tracks each employee’s stress level through their breathing. If a peak of tension is detected, the connected object starts to shake discreetly and the program linked to the object then suggests relaxation exercises.
Similarly, the connected clothing or bracelets check that employees do not suffer from respiratory problems or heart rhythm disorders when they are subjected to severe physical constraints.
A connected desktop for optimising collaborative work allows you to know if your colleague is present and available to avoid unnecessary travel. The connected object promises less steps, less movement and energy saving according to them….
This desk connects to your devices via Bluetooth and allows you to monitor your level of health in sitting or standing posture using a carpet. It adjusts to your height and weight and can be manually adjusted further if necessary. For example, he suggests that you get up if he detects a sitting activity of more than 2 hours.
The desk is also connected to various devices via Bluetooth, it allows to check the state of health while sitting or standing using a carpet. It adapts to your height and weight and can be adjusted manually. If he notices a sitting position of more than 2 hours, he will suggest that you get up.
All these examples testify to the success and interest of objects connected to the company. Today, well-being at work has become a real challenge for companies, it is difficult not to appreciate its small objects. However, still some employees are still unable to adopt these new technologies, they prefer to be autonomous rather than “controlled”.
Too much surveillance? Too much control? No more freedom?
Corporate ethics will be at the heart of the issues as the company will need to ensure that the information collected from connected objects will only be used to improve employee well-being and not for professional evaluations and personal judgment.
For example, in China, companies use sensors to control employees’ emotions in order to adapt their managerial decisions: change of position or not, forced rest, etc… Finally, the connected object will not necessarily benefit employees.
Recently, Amazon registered a certificate for a bracelet that would accurately track where employees move around the warehouse to ensure they stay active. It vibrates if the employee has caught a wrong package or has misplaced his hands… He would also control the duration of breaks… Such a device would mainly risk turning his employees into robots and creating overprotection.
This type of object connected with inappropriate objectives relaunches the debate on workplace surveillance and the dehumanized treatment of employees.
Today, in France, few connected objects are still really implanted in industrial companies. In 2018, a study states that 3 out of 4 companies have less than 100 connected objects. Connected objects are used by 29% of companies in England and 63% of American companies. This number will increase due to the deployment of connected objects. Gradually, more and more companies will start using them despite the different opposition of some employees.
Feel free to read again our article about the impact of the Internet of Things in PLM!