What is a Connected Worker program?
Connected Worker is a technology that enables frontline workers to practice remote work right in the field without communication gaps. Employees can contact headquarters, request information or data and work in sync with their teammates at different locations. This helps make quick, on-the-spot decisions and, improves functionality in everyday operations.
Connectivity allows remote employees & workers at company headquarters and at different on-site locations to communicate effectively; both verbally and visually. It also provides timely data-sharing to ensure accurate decision-making while improving the quality & efficiency of their work.
The safety of frontline workers is also compromised more often than not, especially in the fields of construction and manufacturing. Thanks to Connected Worker, this issue is resolved and workers can now be guaranteed a much bigger percentage of safety. The combination of hardware, software and network tools that these programs make enables workers to operate in a risk-free manner, under safe working conditions.
It is recommended to utilize wearables with mics, speakers, built-in cameras, and a noise-canceling function to optimize the benefits of Connected Worker technology. The technology can also be adapted to laptops, computers, phones, tablets, etc. However, this would be a rather limited subset and less efficient version of Connected Worker technologies.
A good example of a Connected Worker technology in use is the Realwear HMT-1 wearable device. It is the first 100% hands-free, wearable android tool of its kind.
You can take a look at the HMT-1 and other similar products here:
The use of Connected Worker programs in the industry:
The power of IoT combined with remote connect technologies and wearables is believed to revolutionize work operations across industries. It can find use in diverse work settings and change the traditional methodologies. Connected Worker Programs, in this way, can enhance the quality of work, increase productivity and improve the safety of frontline workers.
Here are a few industries in which the connected Worker technology can be used effectively:
- Oil and Gas
Now let’s have an overview of how Connected Worker has proven to be revolutionary in the way frontline workers do their jobs in these industries
Connected Worker helps reduce costs by enabling doctors and patients to connect remotely. Conducting remote examinations and diagnosis has also been made possible thanks to Connected Worker. Conferencing technologies can be used to collaborate with specialists to seek aid for complex procedures by doctors anywhere in the world as well as to augment local resources.
Utility workers can instantly view manuals and schematics, as well as connect to remote experts. They can install and service equipment in the field by reviewing maintenance logs and receiving IoT sensor readings.
Oil and Gas
Connected worker programs reduce distractions and free up workers’ hands through wearable technologies, increasing the safety and security of frontline workers in the oil and gas industry. Workers in these industries can instantly gain virtual access to critical information such as manuals, schematics, P&IDs, sensor readings and maintenance logs through the application of integrated software.
Maintenance standards and quality control can be kept up to the mark by conducting audits and timely procedures. Costly factory downtime can be reduced by connecting workers on the floor with remote experts for faster and swifter repairs. Added to this, inexperienced workers can be guided by step-by-step instructional workflows. This ensures that the work being carried out meets company standards and is done in the most efficient manner.
Connected Worker technologies prioritize the safety of construction workers and enable them to work under risk-free conditions. It omits the use of hand signals through wearable devices.
Connected Worker helps train employees through automated workflows and augmented reality. It helps make swifter & quicker repairs possible along with the option of being connected with a remote expert for assistance. This ensures that repairs are carried out more efficiently, quickly and consistently along with highly satisfied customers.
The downside of Connected Worker Programs: Internal Resistance.
Connected worker programs have been claimed to be disruptive and revolutionary in industries across the globe. While this is true to some extent, it is crucial to accept that the revolution in conversation here cannot be witnessed in reality too soon. This is due to numerous reasons including previously failed Connected Worker Programs, Employees’ hesitance to adapt to newer systems and companies’ lack of realization regarding the need and ease of this technology.
Research has shown that resistance to change is a psychological and physiological reaction (“The Neuroscience of Leadership” by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz). Therefore, resistance to change must be expected. It is a natural phenomenon that cannot be avoided. However, opting for the right measures on the right time can help you control the situation.
For example, in order to resolve the issue of organizational resistance to connect worker programs – it is vital to understand the psychology behind the aversion. This way, you can implement an effective plan-of-action to solve the matter. First of all, managing resistance to change requires you to understand why people resist change. Secondly, the causes of their resistance should be identified before you formulate the tactics & techniques and consider your strategic approach to reduce resistance to change.
Here are a few steps you can follow to overcome resistance to your Connected Worker Program:
Identify and Resolve a real-world problem.
Instead of launching a new, more modern system of operations that is foreign to your teams without a prior case study — Your company should first work with a small group of frontline employees. As you work with them, a business problem or pain point should be identified that can be solved using wearable technology. Now, a well-designed pilot program should be implemented to resolve the problem. This way possible challenges and errors could be detected beforehand, fine-tuning your program.
As the program will be tailor-made to the specific needs & demands of your company and it’s workers, it will have a greater rate of adaptation. Moreover, it will also provide you with a higher ROI. Another benefit of this strategy is that you can easily judge the ROI of the program as you target a particular business case.
Breakdown Barriers: Address concerns as early as possible.
Collaborating with IT and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) partners helps you understand how certain critical factors could play a role in your deployment. These factors include:
- Device Management
You can address these and security concerns that could possibly delay your pilot program by turning IT into an advocate for your business.
Keep it brief: Don’t run your pilot program for more than 3 months.
You should set a specific success criteria and metrics around the business problem that your pilot is designed for. Once your pilot is complete, analyze results and collect feedback to identify any opportunities or required improvements. This approach will assist you in avoiding ‘Pilot Purgatory’.
Show the devices in action.
You can enable a broad cultural shift through leading by example and showing your workers the product in use by top executives. Your HR and Internal Communications departments should be able to help you carry out this strategy for successful implementation of the wearables.
This brief strategy should help you prepare beforehand for any issues regarding organizational resistance to Connected Worker Programs.