The line between our work lives and our social lives has become thinner and thinner nowadays. Communication and wearable devices created by the abundance of cellphones and fitness trackers have advanced the conflict between our social and work lives. Having recently experienced the benefits of my summer vacation, I had to dig deeper on how many people in the United States don’t take vacations. After all, taking or not taking a vacation is an individual choice — if one is lucky enough to work in a job where there are vacation days. In some work places, if you don’t take the vacation after a certain time, you will lose the benefit. Americans have the reputation of working long hours similar to the Japanese. The disappearance of vacation is created by the introduction of new communication tools and wearable devices.
In the US, almost 42% of people don’t take their annual vacation, losing 52 billion dollars in benefits (reported by Oxford Economics in 2014). The average American works 47 hours a week compared to 35 hours in France ¹. As expected and not very surprising, half of working Americans expressed their unhappiness with their jobs. Working so many hours without taking any vacation (or taking a vacation filled with work) creates isolation and keeps you away from socializing with your loved ones. In other words, happier and less stressed workers have more social life, resulting in a better chance of having a successful future.
As the balance between work and social life is disappearing slowly because of advanced communications and wearable devices, the same technology, paradoxically, is now moving us forward to increase social interaction in the workplace.
In recent scientific research from MIT, smart technologies create better social interaction among people in the work environment to increase social awareness and effectiveness among teams. In a recent article in Scientific American Mind ¹ Dr. Alex “Sandy” Pentland has found that developing wearable smart computing devices might lead to the development of sensors able to measure and provide feedback on social interaction, not only individual behavior, creating harmonized social organization.
Perhaps using Google glasses to help autistic people to understand the human emotions of others is a good example of this kind of research outcome². What’s more, wearable devices have been able to show some improvement in social behavior among people. In particular, a productive working group is not the one with the smartest members, but the one whose members communicate more using smart wearable computing to achieve a very successful working environment.
The MIT group found that the assembly of a specific team to help in communicating with the rest of the teams using communication and wearable devices, such as digital conferencing, helped to decentralize communication, eliminating silos, increasing productivity and innovation among teams.
In fact, communication and wearable devices can achiev the following:
- Increased the powerful relationship between performance and pattern of communication among teams.
- Optimized face-to-face video conferencing, creating a better possibility for the new ideas in team management to gain momentum. Face-to-face interaction creates another layer of honesty to detect the bluffing possibility.
- Enabled the interpretation of nonverbal cues among teams.
- Increased the ability to accept negative feedback, leading directly to a self-correcting mechanism.
- Gave feedback to improve teams by bypassing the human hurt factor created by supervisors’ honest feedback.
- Increased the level of trust between the leadership and the base to make mistakes without the worry of negative consequences.
- Developed a team habit to reach their potential by elevating them to be challenged.
Finally, wearable devices will be the new trend of the future, helping us to achieve more in a very specific manner.
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