Meeting teams where they are: Accounting for human behaviour with workplace wearable technology
As humans, we tend to engage in behaviours that we think are the most efficient or expedient, even when they’re decidedly not. For example, if you’re walking to a destination, research has found that you’re more likely to choose the straightest path, even if it takes longer than a route with more twists and turns.
This is called the “pointiest path” strategy, because it involves taking the path that points most directly toward your destination. We do this because our brains have evolved to favour vector-based navigation, which is a type of navigation that’s easy for our brains to figure out: it’s simpler to calculate a route when all you have to do is point your body in a given direction and start moving. It’s more difficult to actually calculate which is the fastest route, as that depends on more than just direction. We choose the pointiest path because it’s straightforward and intuitive, not because it’s actually the best option.
The same goes for airplane boarding processes, which are notoriously difficult and time-consuming. Despite multiple studies over the past several decades which suggest the most efficient ways for boarding an airplane (which is, generally, back-to-front, window-middle-aisle), we still board the groups at the very front of the plane first.
In the case of boarding an aircraft, it’s because the front of the plane is, most often, where the most expensive seats are. If we pay for a first-class ticket, we want the luxury of boarding first. Plainly stated: The fact that the boarding process is slowed when we board the forward rows of an airplane first doesn’t bother us as much as the idea of first class passengers boarding last, because that’s what we’re used to.
And so, even though airlines could probably make more money if they accelerated their boarding processes and turned planes around more quickly, they choose to continue meeting people where they are. They engage in a boarding process that’s theoretically inefficient, but functionally far more effective, because it doesn’t interrupt the behaviours to which most people have become accustomed.
The best technology doesn’t interrupt, it empowers
What these examples demonstrate is that we, as humans, are creatures of habit, and we don’t really like it when our patterns of behaviour are manipulated in ways that we find unfamiliar or uncomfortable. And for years, great technologies have not only acknowledged this, they’ve found ways to embrace it.
For example: Our GPS gives us options for the fastest route, of course, but also the most direct. And when your phone or favourite app updates, it usually does so without totally changing your user interface. This kind of incremental innovation is a cornerstone of how our phones, computers, social media (and more) evolve, and take us along for the ride.
So what does this mean for workplace wearable technology?
In the realm of workplace wearable and risk management technology, the balance between truly effective technology, and technology that people will use, understand, and ultimately embrace, is admittedly difficult to strike.
After all, what use is deploying a workplace wearable, like Reactec’s R-Link, if it distracts, confuses, or slows a worker? Construction workplaces are often considered out-of-touch when it comes to the adoption of modern technologies to monitor worker health and safety. On many worksites, tool rotation is still monitored with a pen and paper, and methods of measuring exposure to risks from vibration or dust, for example, remain largely un-evolved within teams throughout the UK, and beyond.
For these reasons, Reactec has developed technologies that are simultaneously cutting-edge and also easy to integrate into daily operations.
No distractions. No confusion. No slowing anything down.
Reactec’s workplace wearable technologies are purpose-built to facilitate and enhance the ways your teams work. They’re designed to empower teams with knowledge that’s easy to access and understand.
Here are three key ways that Reactec’s technology is designed to integrate seamlessly into your workforce:
1. Haptic alerts: just like the smart phones we use every day, R-Link uses haptic alerts (subtle vibrations) to indicate when exposure thresholds are reached. This familiar functionality is an easy, unintrusive way to ensure that workers stay informed about their exposure levels without the addition of any cognitive tax or unfamiliar functionality.
2. Digital Thumbs-Up: for years, equipment operators on construction sites have given other workers a physical thumbs-up to indicate when it’s safe for them to work near their vehicle. To accommodate this common practice, R-Link empowers vehicle operators to give pedestrians a Digital Thumbs-Up to allow access to vehicles and equipment. At the press of a button, the pedestrian’s watch reconfigures instantly, allowing them to get close to the hazard without issue.
3. Automatic alerts for duty holders: Technology that requires notable additional effort from users isn’t the best technology. R-Link was designed to automatically notify managers when an individual worker’s personal exposure thresholds are exceeded. This means that managers don’t have to expend any additional effort in order to become aware of an issue, and can intervene or take action if necessary.
But the convenience and usability of our technology isn’t just about what goes into the products we build; sometimes, it’s about what we choose not to include. When designing R-Link, we decided not to implement a GPS tracker within the watch. Of course, this technology could add benefits for teams, but we also understood that individual workers would object to their movements being tracked 100% of the time. As a result, they may alter their natural patterns of working, undermining the entire premise of R-Link, which is to monitor and respond to real-world behaviour with practical solutions.
Meeting workers, teams, and organisations where they are is a key aspect of the Reactec philosophy. Our technology is meant to seamlessly integrate into your day to day operations, elevating the ways that you work naturally, and without interruption.
To learn more about a bespoke risk management technology solution for your needs, just get in touch with a member of our expert team.