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You wear it well

New study reveals how wearable technology can reduce stress and boost performance in the workplace

Could wearable technology provide a solution to the UK productivity gap? New research suggests that it might, with corporate users of wearable trackers shown to be less stressed, more energetic and more positive than non-wearers.

The 30-day study by Stanford University’s Mind & Body Lab* and Spire took place at the offices of LinkedIn Corporation, using Spire trackers, small, pebble-sized devices that clip to a belt buckle or bra strap.

The study analysed a subset of 225 LinkedIn employees from the company’s product, legal, marketing, engineering and finance teams. Roughly half (114) were given a Spire activity tracker, which senses breathing patterns and alerts the user of noteworthy changes. An accompanying app provides training in breath regulation.

Results show that workers who wore a Spire tracker experienced significantly less stress and negative moods, as well as more productive and ‘focused’ work hours, than non-Spire users, including:

Fig f3. The reduction in perceived stress was significantly greater in the intervention (10%) than the control (4%) group (Cohen, Kamarck, Mermelstein, 1983)
Fig f3. The reduction in perceived stress was significantly greater in the intervention (10%) than the control (4%) group (Cohen, Kamarck, Mermelstein, 1983)

A 10% decrease on the Perceived Stress Scale (p<0.05)

A 12% decrease in stress symptoms on the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (p=0.001),

An 11% decrease in negative affect on the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (p=0.005)

2.5 (27%) fewer anxious days

3.5 (35%) more energetic days

37% more calm

25% more focus-related breathing patterns

15% more tension-related breathing patterns, attributed to the learning curve associated with any new technology

Fig.4 The reduction in negative effect was significantly greater for the intervention (12%) than the control (4%) group. (Wardenaaar et al..2010)
Fig.4 The reduction in negative effect was significantly greater for the intervention (12%) than the control (4%) group. (Wardenaaar et al..2010)

Feedback from study participants suggests that Spire trackers might provide a long-term method of improving health, wellbeing and productivity in the workplace by enabling employees to recognise the symptoms of stress and by giving them the knowledge to manage and control stress levels.

Three quarters (75%) of participants say they have acquired new knowledge and skills as a result of the Spire stress study program; 58% have implemented skills learned through Spire and its app; and 61% say using Spire has taught them to alter the level of stress they experience.

Commenting on the study, LinkedIn Global Wellness Manager Michael Susi said: “Our employees are our greatest asset – especially their health and minds. They used Spire to make tangible improvements to things that can seem fleeting: focus, distraction and productivity. Lowering stress while increasing productivity is crucial to the success of any business, and to be able to do both of those with one device is rather powerful.”

Fig 7. The increase in the number of self-reported energised days in the past 30 days was higher for the intervention (32%) than the control (12%) group. (CDC, 2016)
Fig 7. The increase in the number of self-reported energised days in the past 30 days was higher for the intervention (32%) than the control (12%) group. (CDC, 2016)

The full study can be downloaded from:

www.spire.io/pages/study
www.spire.io

* Stanford University is an investor in Spire, the development of which was based on research conducted at the University.

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2018