Smartwatches have been around for a while and they’re not exactly common but it’s not a stretch to say most people know what they are. However, they are rarely seen in the workplace, at least as a device that has been assigned by the IT team. Remaining very much on the personal side of device purchases has been the trend of smart watch ownership. But this may be changing in unexpected ways.

Smartwatches are being trialled in Cincinnati Airport, with the Samsung Galaxy S3 watches in the trial. However, they’re being trialled by the janitorial team since the watches are expected to help timelier clean-ups of restrooms. The indication of the success of the trial seems to show that the watches are indeed playing a part in getting restrooms cleaned on time. Another trial of smartwatches last year was done for a restaurant (Cincinnati Buffalo Wings for four months) which alerted servers when customers had arrived.

This works by using an app called TaskWatch which was made by a Samsung partner. The app works in conjunction with Bluetooth sensors at the restroom doorway which counts the number of people entering. When this number reaches 50, the janitor gets a notification to clean and restock. In a bit that seems slightly related to how Uber drivers or Deliveroo riders respond, the janitor can accept the task by clicking the watch and gets points for being first to do so.  The airport has said that full usage of the smart watches will be implemented in 2018 once the trial keeps working successfully as it has been.

In the restaurant trial, turning over tables to new customers occurred four minutes faster than before. This, in turn, lead to greater revenue since more tables were served and there was, in fact, a 7% increase in average daily revenue. Another indicator of success was that servers got higher tips during the trial.

One of the main advantages of the smart watch is that the workers are able to function hands-free which would not be possible with a smartphone or tablet. The developers of the app, a company called Hipaax, have said the competition segment to have janitors try to be first should promote usage by incentivizing the app as well. It is also possible to have geo-locating services with the watch meaning that if a worker leaves the work site the watch can stop working. It is also possible to disable other apps except for TaskWatch.

By having real-time data this allows a lot of performance indicators to be set and managed. Managers can now be able to see how long routine tasks take to complete and trends in data where there are recurring issues. Having a smartwatch makes this data automatically recorded and potentially allows insights into yet undiscovered ways to make improvements. While it would be too soon to say that smartwatches will be the new device on hand in the business world, it is entirely possible they won’t be as rare as they are now in the near future.

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