Talk abounds about the untapped potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) at work, but we’re clearly still in early days. Today, the consumer has a corner on IoT device adoption. A Forrester Research study from last September reported that 1-in-5 surveyed adults use a wearable device. For the majority of us, however, IoT primarily means Fitbit or Nike FuelBand—two health and fitness devices that, according to the same study, snagged approximately 52% of the consumer wearables market in 2015.
But since we spend at least a third of our days working, can IoT and wearable devices make us more productive, efficient workers? Absolutely, thanks to connected devices like the Apple Watch, which cornered 52% of the global smartwatch market last year.
The beauty of a smartwatch is that it straddles both IoT worlds: consumer and business. We can track fitness activities throughout the day, such as my husband’s (annoying) obsession with Apple Watch’s reminder to stand up every hour. We can monitor our heartbeat, calories, etc. But with a plethora of enterprise apps available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, IT is seeing an influx of smart, connected devices enter into the workplace—particularly smartwatches.
Here are seven ways smartwatches boost work productivity:
1. Make Siri your personal assistant.
The voice input on the Apple Watch might be my favorite interactive feature of all, especially because I’m stuck in Atlanta traffic longer than I care to admit. The text messaging and email dictation is fantastic, turning rush hour from wasted to productive opportunities for short email responses. I can also set reminders to call a coworker, make a lunch reservation or submit my expense report.
On the personal side, this also helps me manage the near-constant “Mom, can I…?” texts from my kiddos and set reminders to take out the trash on Wednesday nights.
2. Download MobileDay or Agenday. Like, now.
Conference calls and online meetings are how we convene in the modern business world. But it’s also a massive pain in the … workday. Calendaring apps like MobileDay or Agenday rid our lives of complicated passcodes and dial-in numbers. The meeting shows up on the watch face, you click it and you’re dialed in. Although the Watch audio works fine for personal communication, I still take professional calls on my iPhone to avoid any mishaps.
3. Politely multitask in meetings.
I abhor open laptops in meetings. Maybe it’s because of my Southern-mother upbringing, but if it’s important enough to drop everything and spend 30 minutes face-to-face, it’s important enough to be 100% engaged. That said, work doesn’t stop because you’ve blocked out time on your calendar. I love Apple Watch notifications for just this purpose. I can take a peek at incoming calls, see if an email needs immediate attention or respond to my daughter’s text with a happy-face emoticon—all without staring rudely at a screen.
4. Take control of the business travel chaos.
This is where the world of apps really comes into play. A few of my favorite Apple Watch travel tips:
- Use airline apps, like British Airways and Fly Delta, to see your itinerary and gate information at a glance.
- Concur’s TripIt and Apple’s Passbook take it a step farther, adding hotel information to flight itinerary glances. You can even use Passbook on Apple Watch to scan your boarding pass.
- Apple Pay is perfect for quickly grabbing a coffee or sandwich on the run, since you can set it to charge your corporate card—great for avoiding the “it’s in here somewhere” search through an over-packed laptop bag.
- Maps apps abound, giving you turn-by-turn directions on your wrist.
- iTranslate, for our international travelers, is ideal for simple translations. Simply speak a simple phrase (“Where’s the bathroom?”) into the Watch, and the translations are fairly accurate.
- Uber is a huge time-saver, especially in a walk-taxi-train city like NYC. Interactions are limited, but it’s easy to request pick-up on your wrist.
5. Collaborate with your team.
Email’s still king (78% of an eight-hour workday is spent checking email), and Apple Watch makes it simple to check incoming emails and dictate simple responses. But enterprise collaboration apps like Slack are increasingly taking over team collaboration. While long replies aren’t feasible on the Watch, it is a great for monitoring @ mentions and viewing direct conversations at a glance.
6. Stay on top of the day-to-day work stuff.
Apps for all of most-adopted work tools are available on Watch. You can access Microsoft PowerPoint, Salesforce, Evernote, Trello and the list goes on (and on and on). The Apple Watch helps me keep up with the wide variety of content, notifications and basic information I get throughout the day—wherever I am. But you’ll still have to pull out your smartphone or laptop to dive in.
7. Finally, shut out the world.
I think this might be the most important productivity tip of the seven above. Sure, the Apple Watch—and the two or three other devices we carry around—is great for boosting work productivity. But technology distractions are also one of the greatest inhibitors to getting the job done. Just like I hope you do around the dinner table with your family, make an effort to block out time to turn off your Watch, laptop and smartphone. Disconnect from email and instant messaging. Get the work done.
What’s Your Smartwatch Productivity Tip?
Like our smartphones and laptops, we all use technology in different ways, adapting them to our unique roles, workflows and needs. Share your unique IoT at Work tip with us in the comments below and on Twitter @AirWatch. I’ll try each tip myself and add them to a future list.
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