Be mindful of ethical and legal considerations in the workplace

Be mindful of ethical and legal considerations in the workplace

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has radically redefined the world of work of the future. Reports have spelled out what this could look like, from the introduction of technology into the workplace and the emergence of new jobs and skills – some even pointing to the potential for mass job losses.

This has been a constant concern – is the futuristic world of work making humans obsolete? Perhaps one of the considerations overlooked in this conversation is how technology can augment humans in the workplace rather than replace them.

For example, with key enabling technologies such as wearables, which are devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, and augmented reality (AR) glasses designed to be worn on a user’s body, there is room to ensure that humans are kept in the loop.

In recent years, the pace of wearable devices has been increasing, largely in special capabilities. However, we are increasingly seeing its use in professional settings, redefining our notions of the role of technology in the workplace.

From a health standpoint, it can encourage breaks, prevent burnout, and promote healthy habits while promoting safety measures in the workplace.

in 2018, Deloitte David Schatzky and Navya Kumar looked at the emergence of the superhero workforce. As they outlined, wearable technologies were increasing workers’ strength, awareness, stamina, and endurance while simultaneously enhancing productivity and safety mechanisms.

As the authors state, “Technology is already making workers more valuable by enhancing their physical and cognitive abilities… Far from making workers obsolete, these technologies can improve their productivity, help them overcome physical limitations, or make up for interrupted skills.” And they give employers ways to New planning for the workforce of the future.

Vishal Patel and others He argues that there has been a marked shift towards human-in-the-loop models in “smart” workplaces. These devices can drive efficiency in the workplace based on real-time access to data, allowing for faster decision-making and results.

In addition, from a health standpoint, it can encourage breaks, prevent burnout and promote healthy habits while promoting safety measures in the workplace by monitoring environmental conditions, detecting hazardous materials and providing real-time warnings, particularly in high-risk environments.

Read more at The Daily Maverick: World Health Day: Here’s how AI and digital health are shaping the future of healthcare

Wearable devices also allow for enhanced training and collaboration through immersive experiences and remote collaboration. For example, at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), in the engineering department, students have access to a mining simulator called Simulacrum, which is a virtual reality explosion simulator. In Health Sciences, students can interact through augmented reality with mannequins that display real symptoms and reactions to treatments.

ethical considerations

While this certainly represents an exciting new frontier for the world of work, there are also some general ethical considerations. For example, wearables are often based on unembedded data, which are largely descriptive and do not explain causal relationships because they do not take into account the social and psychological underpinnings of responses.

Moreover, these devices do not provide insight into actual performance and may affect the credibility of the organization as only the indicators that are tracked are considered. It can also lead to favoritism based on skewed statements, which leads to discrimination.

There are also concerns around the concept of work-life balance, particularly when these wearables are used in a professional field as well as in a private one.

Similarly, wearables can dehumanize and anthropomorphize employees, which can impair performance. Wearable devices may encourage tight conformity to body norms and behavior, and thus produce bioenergy, which determines the organization’s authority over the human body based on conformity.

This organization of personnel bodies can lead to inherent power imbalances and create a disconnect between employees and the organization. These factors can lead to less rewarding work, and thus to less innovative organisations.

Additionally, there are privacy concerns regarding what data is collected and how it is used. These devices can be intrusive and some employees may not want to adopt this technology.

Read more at The Daily Maverick: The future we are moving towards requires a fundamentally different skill set

There are also concerns around the concept of work-life balance, particularly when these wearables are used in a professional field as well as in a private one.

Curiously, according to PricewaterhouseCoopersSouth African employees are more receptive to the idea of ​​wearables in the workplace. According to a survey, three-quarters of employees will provide information through their personal wearable device to employers based on incentives such as flexible working hours and lower insurance premiums. The question then becomes, how do companies introduce the use of wearables at work?

like Katerina Maltseva The outline, companies that want to offer wearables should be open about what these devices can do and the data they collect, create a space for reflection and sharing of data, co-create performance benchmarks and encourage critical discussion.

In South Africa, there is another layer of protection through the Personal Information Protection Act (Popia). While Popia does not specifically address wearable devices, its provisions are relevant to the collection, use, and protection of personal information obtained through wearable devices in the workplace.

a Study 2019 On privacy in health devices, I found that this act adequately protects users’ privacy in terms of notice, awareness, choice, consent, access, and sharing, but not in terms of social disclosure. With this technology increasingly entrenched, there is definitely room to explore Popia’s role in employee protection.

When exploring the role of technology in the future world of work, we need to consider its impact on employees. As we seek to increase the standard of human beings, we must ensure that we do so in an ethical manner to ensure effectiveness while protecting the rights and privacy of employees. As Albert Einstein reminds us, “The human spirit must prevail over technology.” DM

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