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UK workers turn down company wearables over privacy issues

Despite the fact that 3 million Britons bought wearables during 2015, the majority of UK office workers are unwilling to wear them at work.

After conducting a survey of 2,000 workers across the UK, PwC found that only 46 per cent of respondents would accept a free wearable device from their company if their employer had access to the data it recorded.

In the past few years, wearables from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone have taken the consumer market by storm as a means of tracking one's health and fitness. PwC's survey found that two-thirds of those surveyed wanted their employer to take a more active role in their health and well being and a company issued wearable would be a good first step at doing just that.

The main reason UK office workers would decline a wearable from their workplace is trust. 40 per cent of the respondents said that they did not trust their employer to use these devices for the benefit of their employees and many of the workers believed that their employer may actively use the data collected from a wearable against them.

PwC's people analytics leader, Anthony Bruce, highlighted the trust gap as the biggest barrier to the adoption of company wearables saying: “Employers haven't been able to overcome the 'big brother' reaction from people to sharing their personal data. If [they] want to to overcome the trust gap they need to show that they are serious about data security and communicate openly with their staff about the benefits for them.”

Another interesting figure from the survey is that 55 per cent of UK office workers would accept a wearable device from their company if workplace benefits such as flexible hours and remote working were promised.

Wearables have certainly gained in popularity in the UK over the past year. Their market grew by 118 per cent between 2014 and 2015 and it is unlikely to slow as devices become more complex, offer better battery life and become integrated with Internet of Things networks.

Image source: MIND AND I / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.