The Impact of IoT on Corporate Wellness Programs

Devin Partida
The Impact of IoT on Corporate Wellness Programs

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become widely used in homes and businesses worldwide. They could also become part of your workplace’s wellness strategy. Many employers have perks that encourage employees to live healthier lives. Since IoT tech is increasingly available, easy to use, and affordable, executives often decide using these products to promote overall well-being makes sense. IoT corporate wellness programs are one example of this.

Promoting Healthy Workplaces

One of the reasons IoT devices have become so popular is they react to changing conditions or preset commands without ongoing input from people. For example, someone’s living room lights might dim at a particular time, telling them they should head to bed soon. Alternatively, smart thermostats turn on and off throughout the day, saving energy while maintaining the desired room temperature. It’s easy to see how these conveniences become appealing outside homes too.

Achieving Better Air Quality

Poor-quality air at work could be distracting in the short term and contribute to long-term health complications. That’s partially why Yodit Stanton developed a sensor-based business catering to workplaces.

Her inspiration came while looking for air quality data to help her daughter, who lives with asthma. She realized the lack of indoor air quality information identified during her research created a business opportunity to utilize. Those early ideas resulted in OpenSensors — an IoT technology company that provides clients with air quality details and numerous other environmental statistics.

Stanton pointed out that people spend up to 80 percent of their time indoors, necessitating adequate air filtration. She also mentioned that CO2 levels rise as the number of staff in a workplace increases. When they get above 600 parts per million, employees start to feel lethargic and are at a higher risk of catching viruses.

Increasing Creativity

In another example, researchers looked at how volatile organic compounds — gasses released from products such as paint, perfume, and aerosol sprays — can reduce workers’ creativity. They discovered that reducing the total volatile organic compounds by 72 percent could elevate a worker’s creative potential by 12 percent.

IoT products can respond as room conditions change, minimizing volatile organic compound levels. Beyond this study, IoT-powered lights could react to the amount of natural illumination in the room so people can easily see while doing detail-oriented tasks or anything requiring their creativity.

Working in the Background to Create a Healthy Environment

IoT can manage a meeting room’s climate control based on the number of occupants, the outdoor temperature, or any other factor, keeping inhabitants comfortable and focused. Connected appliances can also react in near real-time, such as if an air purifier switches on to combat cigarette smoke or vehicle pollution coming through the open window near someone’s desk.

Using IoT to support corporate wellness programs in these ways creates environments where current team members love to work and prospective employees want to work. Consider how one study of sales teams found 22 percent of recruitment happens on campus or from customer leads.

Most people won’t see IoT devices or even know they exist. However, they’ll enjoy the results and have a strong impression of the workplace. Whether those opinions come from prospective hires or customers who visit the business and may recommend others to work there, the results are similarly positive.

Creating Healthy Habits

Most IoT corporate wellness programs encourage people to create or maintain habits to help them live healthier and feel better. Some IoT devices link to participant surveys that ask workers what health-related changes they want to make and what they’ve tried so far. The provided information could make connected products give tailored recommendations or advice, maximizing what staff get from corporate wellness programs and supporting them in making better decisions about their health.

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes Easier

Fitness trackers are among the most well-known IoT devices for personal wellness.  During one 2022 study, researchers examined nearly 400 academic papers representing 164,000 total participants. The results indicated wearable activity trackers helped people of all ages develop sustainable fitness habits that benefit their overall health and encourage them to make exercise part of their daily routines.

You’re probably so used to brushing your teeth that you never forget to do it because it comes naturally. That’s a healthy habit many people never think of as such until they visit the dentist. During that visit, the dental professional may explain how brushing one’s teeth supports health within and beyond the mouth.

However, most brush their teeth without thinking about it outside of those times. Fitness trackers and other IoT devices can help people fit physical activity into their lives just as smoothly, making them healthier individuals.

Changing People’s Activity Perspectives

Scientists have also noted how fitness trackers may reveal someone was more active than they thought, especially on the days they intended to go to the gym but don’t. Consider an example where a person skips a trip to the local fitness center but spends time walking the dog, taking their toddler out in the stroller, and energetically cleaning their homes. Those translate into activity, too, but they may not initially recognize it as anything more than going about their lives. Activity wearables could tell a different story.

Once individuals realize staying healthy and active means more than going to the gym, such insights could translate into them making small but meaningful changes at work. A standing desk is a great way to make desk work much more active. Climbing a few flights of stairs increases activity, whereas using the elevator doesn’t cause that gain.

IoT devices can also reinforce how healthy activities encompass more than breaking a sweat. Many help people monitor their stress levels or how well they sleep. The insights they see from their workplace-provided fitness trackers could encourage them to commit more to stress management.

As executives oversee corporate wellness programs, they may notice trends that inspire related changes to employee benefits. For example, leaders of the crowdfunding company GoFundMe began offering a meditation app to workers to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Something similar could happen if the IoT data shows someone feels more stressed and sleeps less for any other reason. Well-rested, relaxed team members are typically more productive, so it’s in everyone’s interest to help them feel their best during work hours and beyond.

Necessitating Updated Privacy Protocols

Although IoT devices have these positive workplace wellness benefits, they also require leaders to think carefully about distributing them and encouraging worker adoption while upholding their privacy. The main concern is connected products often contain information people want to share with their physicians. That’s undoubtedly convenient, particularly for workplaces with company doctors. However, most individuals don’t want their colleagues or supervisors to know their health conditions or concerns.

Some also wonder how much their employers could learn or assume about them through their fitness trackers, viewing them as extensions of the productivity and location trackers many brands use. If a person begins visiting the bathroom more than usual, might their supervisor become suspicious that they’re pregnant or have prostate issues? Suppose a worker enrolled in a program to quit smoking that their IoT tracker suggested. Will their boss know when they slip up and have cigarettes after avoiding them for several days or weeks?

If IoT data indicates most workers are overweight, will that cause decision-makers to get rid of most of the delicious but less-healthy cafeteria fare that employees appreciate? Workers want to know how companies will use their IoT data, especially if it spans beyond their enterprises to affect things such as their insurance policies.

Employers can begin alleviating these valid concerns by being transparent about data usage and letting teams opt out of the programs when desired. Then, they should strongly consider only capturing relevant data and limiting who can see it.

When firms process or store data from employees’ fitness trackers, they must also follow best practices for keeping that information safe. Relatedly, if breaches occur, staff must be told about those instances and their consequences as soon as possible.

Maximizing the Positives and Minimizing the Negatives

IoT products can have significant and lasting impacts on IoT corporate wellness programs. However, executives planning such rollouts must take privacy-centered approaches to reduce the chances of adverse outcomes caused by data misuse. Establishing new data processing rules and being honest with workers about how you will use their information creates the foundation for successful IoT-driven corporate programs that promote better well-being.

Devin Partida
Devin Partida - Editor-in-Chief, ReHack Magazine
Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief of where she covers IoT, cybersecurity, tech investments and more.
Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief of where she covers IoT, cybersecurity, tech investments and more.