Mettler, Tobias, & Jochen Wulf (2018, May, in press). Physiolytics at the workplace: Affordances and constraints of wearables use from an employee’s perspective. Information Systems Journal (doi: 10.1111/isj.12205). (ePub in advance of print)

Abstract: Wearables paired with data analytics and machine learning algorithms that measure physiological (and other) parameters are slowly finding their way into our workplace. Several studies have reported positive effects from using such "physiolytics" devices and purported the notion that it may lead to significant workplace safety improvements or to increased awareness among employees concerning unhealthy work practices and other job-related health and well-being issues. At the same time, physiolytics may cause an overdependency on technology and create new constraints on privacy, individuality, and personal freedom. While it is easy to understand why organizations are implementing physiolytics, it remains unclear what employees think about using wearables at their workplace. Using an affordance theory lens, we, therefore, explore the mental models of employees who are faced with the introduction of physiolytics as part of corporate wellness or security programs. We identify five distinct user types each of which characterizes a specific viewpoint on physiolytics at the workplace: the freedom loving, the individualist, the cynical, the tech independent, and the balancer. Our findings allow for better understanding the wider implications and possible user responses to the introduction of wearable technologies in occupational settings and address the need for opening up the "user black box" in IS use research.

Tobias Mettler <> is in the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.