• Top 8 Trends from CES 2018

    Do you want to know what wellbeing and AI trends industry leaders are talking about?
    Read on below…

Top 8 Trends from CES 2018

So, you survived the frenetic pace of the corporate jungle in 2017, with your sanity somewhat intact, and if you crawled into 2017 uttering a New Year’s Resolution to make 2018 the year of YOU, you weren’t alone. If your resolution was about fitness, health, abstaining from bad habits, or diet, you join approximately 91% of your colleagues. What may surprise you though, (or not, if you’re in the HR sector) is that your workplace may be making that same promise.  

Hot on the heels of the trends unveiled during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018), businesses are clamouring to make their own New Year’s Resolution to support the wellbeing of their employees. The threat of a talent shortage and a shift to workplace loyalty and benefits are driving the focus in this highly competitive environment. Continued changes to workplace legislation and a need to enhance productivity also drives the need to support their most precious asset, their staff.

With the need to balance creativity and innovation with safety and productivity, 2018 will see the rise of corporate wellbeing programs throughout workplaces of all shapes and sizes. The new year will see a desire for programs, technologies and flexibility to improve all facets of the working environment. Here are the top 8 trends showcased during the 2018 CES.

1. Activity

In the words of Buddha, “To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” It comes as no surprise that the smallest amount of physical activity, repeated regularly, can have lasting and significant effects on all facets of physical and mental health. The prescribed daily activity level is often quoted in terms of a 10,000-step minimum. While this is not difficult to achieve if chunked down into bite-size morsels throughout the day, walking, or running if you like, are certainly not the only methods of staying active. Corporate wellbeing offerings have expanded eagerly into tracking a multitude of activities, from swimming and cycling to gym workouts, etc. What health practitioners, health insurance companies and device companies agree on is simple. Find that activity that makes you feel alive, do it often, do it with family and friends, keep doing it some more and before too long, you will start to notice the difference exercise can make to your health. At CES 2018 this year, over 330 fitness related exhibitors unveiled their latest gadgets, devices and machines. From high-performance garments, through to the latest virtual reality assisted training equipment, it was there. The bottom line though, whatever your budget, wherever you live or work, whatever your schedule, just start moving and don’t stop; it all counts.

2. Mindfulness

Stress may be called the silent killer, but the complexity of cause and effect mean that this is not a topic to be ignored. In its simplest form, stress is pressure or tension exerted on an object, or in our case, a person, by an adverse or demanding circumstance. If we examine this further, stress may be caused by your work, your environment, or your personal life, but irrespective of the cause, you do have a choice of how you deal with it. Common methods of stress relief include: meditation, breathing exercises or even taking as little as five minutes out of your day to re-centre yourself away from the stressful situation. Scattered around all of the CES2018 exhibition halls were high-tech massage chairs/beds, virtual reality devices, meditation booths and a variety of weird and wonderful stress-relieving gadgets. Work-related stress costs companies more than $367b each year. Additionally, staff become disengaged from their work through similar pressures, with lack of engagement costing more than $595b annually. In reality, neither your workplace nor you can afford to ignore it any longer. Make 2018 the year that you regain your mindfulness.

3. Financial Wellbeing

Aside from the obvious attempt to address workplace health and safety issues and increase productivity amongst their staff, 2018 will also see the rise of financial wellbeing tools and products.  With the cost of living skyrocketing across the globe, rather than lose highly valued staff to other companies offering slightly higher compensation, there is a push to educate workers in managing their finances. This concept builds on the holistic approach of mind, body and soul, and by including finances, it may help to alleviate some of the non-work related stress plaguing the workforce. Whether it’s help with budgeting, education on a litany of banking products, or assistance with sorting through the endless catalogue of insurances and investment products on the market. The trick with financial wellbeing is to be realistic about your starting place. Define where you hope to get to, and then devise a realistic plan of attack to achieve all of your goals. Just the simple act of having a plan can help alleviate the stress of dealing with your dollars. Check out the latest apps and platforms in the markets for more information.

4. Workcations

To some, the simple thoughts of running away from the office to a tropical location may be considered a vacation. But what if you were staying in a serene location, packed full of like-minded business people, with all the wifi your heart could desire? At CES 2018, providers were showcasing the best in portable work devices, connectivity options and travel goods to make this dream a reality. No longer does the modern executive need to be confined to a boardroom, slave to endless meetings. The premise will see overworked executives flying into a remote location to unplug from the daily grind, or attempt to see the trees for the forest. While bunking down in an appealing location, you can brainstorm some of the bigger issues with like-minded individuals, all while balancing video conferences and emails.  With relaxation pursuits such as surfing, hammocking or other adrenaline filled activities a step away. With destinations such as Thailand, the Caribbean and Australia high on the wish-list, you can combine your mindfulness strategy, with your increased activity plan in idyllic locations. And if you are lucky, you may be more productive both while you are away from the office and upon your return, albeit with a slightly better tan.

5. Agile Workspaces

Agile workspaces are definitely not a new concept, but they are back with a vengeance. More than 36 companies unveiled their current models of everything from standing desks, adjustable workspaces, through to my personal favourite, the bike-desk. As time-poor as we all are, the simple thought of combining my daily work performed on a computer at my desk with my daily activity goal epitomises the theory of multi-tasking. But seriously, the increasing medical evidence pointing to constant sitting contributing to countless medical conditions does give rise to thoughts of variety in our workspace arrangements. Whether it is a sit/stand desk, or lifting your computer at the push of a button, having the ability to vary your work activity is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

6. Wearables

Ok, if you thought there was a lot of fitness/furniture companies at CES2018, hold onto your hats. With everything from respiratory tracking discs that you sew into your underwear, to the highest tech wrist wearables on show, more than 450 companies either showcased wearable technologies or were involved in panel discussions on their developments. Whether tracking physiology, performance, location and your medical condition, if you are not utilising these pint-sized, non-invasive conveyors of data, you may be missing out. Having access to the data is only half the mission, having the ability to react and benefit from knowledge is just as important. To that end, there were almost as many software platforms and applications on display to make this task easier. Not all applications have been created equal. My advice would be to find one that deals with a holistic, multi-faceted approach to your wellbeing. If you can combine activity, with nutrition, mindfulness and sleep, you are on the winning track. Above all else, your technology should interact with you personally. Personalised recommendations are changing this sector for the better.

7. Office Pets

This train of discussion is somewhat contentious and may not suit every workplace, but the concept of having a pet wandering around the office is working miracles for stress levels everywhere. On the surface, having a pet of any kind in the office is not always possible. They are soothing, calming and distracting for us mere humans when the going gets tough. The science behind playing with pets increasing stress-reducing hormone oxytocin levels and decreasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol, is undeniable. Now, if a fur covered pet is just not something that your workplace will agree to, don’t despair. Several exhibitors at CES 2018 showcased their Android offering in the office pets stakes. The best part? The physiological reactions while not identical, still mimic that of playing with a real pet, just without feeding, walking and cleaning up after them. Why don’t you fall in love with the eyes of a pet in your office today?

8. Artificial Intelligence

Without a doubt, the greatest hype surrounding all sessions and exhibits of CES2018 touched upon Artificial Intelligence. In this case, artificial intelligence, or AI bordered on cognitive services, but largely could be broken down into several categories. Artificial intelligence is being developed to mirror and streamline business systems and repetitive customer service tasks. Thus reducing stress and enhancing the use of your time. It is also being used to create systems around health tech, fitness and your general wellbeing. Systems such as the calculations required to spot trends in vast amounts of medical device outputs, or to create new models of treatments surround chronic disease. AI is also being employed by multiple corporate wellbeing platforms to analyse progress and ensure personalised recommendations enhance progress and trajectory towards your goals. In summary, Chad Steelberg of Veritone summed it up “This technological shift of cognitive thinking and AI is going to absolutely dwarf the transformation experienced by the internet.” Don’t be scared of it; it is here to stay. Embrace it!

Jamie Leach

General Manager AU /NZ

Jamie is a highly successful seasoned leader and creator of high-performance teams. With a successful career initially in the Australian Defence Force with the Royal Australian Navy and since 2014 in technology within the Australian financial industry.  Jamie has a depth of understanding of complex business environments and has a keen focus on Risk and Governance issues within the commercial environment and how they impact Corporations, Government and Not For Profits.

Jamie has held Chair and Member roles on numerous boards throughout Australasia.

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