Smart watches

How fitness trackers and smartwatches can reveal your performance at work

New York: Not only keeping you fit and healthy, data from fitness trackers and smartwatches can also predict individual job performance as workers commute to and from the office wearing these devices, research has found.

Previous research on commuting indicates that the stress, anxiety, and frustration associated with commuting can lead to a less efficient workforce and an increase in counterproductive work behaviors. Researchers at Dartmouth College in the US have built mobile-sensing machine learning (ML) models to accurately predict job performance via data derived from wearable devices.

“The key was being able to objectively assess the stress of the ride as well as the physiological response to the ride experience,” said Subigya Nepal, a Dartmouth doctoral student and lead author of the paper.

Study participants used a Garmin vivoSmart 3 activity tracker and smartphone sensor app to capture physiological and behavioral patterns during rides, including activity levels, phone use, frequency heart and stress.

The system also captured external factors such as location, weather, journey time and journey variability. The researchers analyzed data from 275 workers collected over a period of one year before the outbreak of the pandemic.

The workers, nearly 95% of whom were driving, were monitored while on the move. They were also monitored for 30-minute periods before and after the ride. “Compared to lower performers, higher performers show greater consistency in the time they arrive and leave work,” said Pino Audia, co-author of the study. “This significantly reduces the negative impacts of movement variability and suggests that the secret to high performance may lie in sticking to better routines.”

While high performers had physiological indicators consistent with physical fitness and stress resilience, low performers had higher levels of stress before, during, and after rides. Low performers also used their phones more while on the go. Overall, the research also found that workers spend more time traveling home than commuting to work.

The study also demonstrated that not all moves can be bad. By tracking commuting characteristics such as walking distance and steps, research has confirmed that commuters who are involved in active forms of commuting generally experience increased work productivity.

“Your commute predicts your day. This research demonstrates that mobile sensing is able to identify how travel to and from the office affects individual workers,” said Andrew Campbell, lead researcher and study co-author.

The researchers hope this mobile sensing technology will also be able to detect stress in commuters and offer tailored interventions such as music, podcasts or connecting them to friends and family.

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Posted: Sunday November 21st 2021, 7:23 PM IST