4 Innovations That Could Change Work?

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 4, 2012

The New York Times had a piece this past Sunday on "32 innovations that will change your tomorrow," several of which impact the world of work.  Here are a select few:

By Jason Fagone
If you slump down when you’re typing on an ErgoSensor monitor by Philips, it’ll suggest that you sit up straighter. To help office workers avoid achy backs and tired eyes, the device’s built-in camera follows the position of your pupils to determine how you are sitting. Are you too close? Is your neck tilted too much? Algorithms crunch the raw data from the sensor and tell you how to adjust your body to achieve ergonomic correctness. The monitor can also inform you that it’s time to stand up and take a break, and it will automatically power down when it senses that you’ve left. 
Years away: 0-2

Given the huge expense of workers' compensation, and the increasing time we spend at our desks staring at a computer screen, this will be a must in any workplace.

By Catherine Rampell
When you aim the SpeechJammer at someone, it records that person’s voice and plays it back to him with a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This seems to gum up the brain’s cognitive processes — a phenomenon known as delayed auditory feedback — and can painlessly render the person unable to speak. Kazutaka Kurihara, one of the SpeechJammer’s creators, sees it as a tool to prevent loudmouths from overtaking meetings and public forums, and he’d like to miniaturize his invention so that it can be built into cellphones. “It’s different from conventional weapons such as samurai swords,” Kurihara says. “We hope it will build a more peaceful world.” 
Years away: 2-4

This one will be fun, but controversial.  Who would love to have this at a movie theater or a noisy restaurant?  Who wouldn't like to shut up the individual who is droning on and on, or the loudmouth who is dominating a meeting?  But, who makes the decision to use the SpeechJammer?  Is this something that could be anonymously applied?  Will we see SpeechJammer duels at sunrise?

By Catherine Rampell
Researchers at Wharton, Yale and Harvard have figured out how to make employees feel less pressed for time: force them to help others. According to a recent study, giving workers menial tasks or, surprisingly, longer breaks actually leads them to believe that they have less time, while having them write to a sick child, for instance, makes them feel more in control and “willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.” The idea is that completing an altruistic task increases your sense of productivity, which in turn boosts your confidence about finishing everything else you need to do. 
Years away: 0-2
Are people building the time for altruistic tasks into their daily planners or PDAs? How many managers are adding this tool into their daily toolbox?

By Gretchen Reynolds
What’s the new psychological trick for improving performance? Strategic lying. When amateur golfers were told, falsely, that a club belonged to the professional golfer Ben Curtis, they putted better than other golfers using the same club. For a study published in March, human cyclists were pitted against a computer-generated opponent moving at, supposedly, the exact speed the cyclist had achieved in an earlier time trial. In fact, the avatars were moving 2 percent faster, and the human cyclists matched them, reaching new levels of speed. Lying is obviously not a long-term strategy — once you realize what’s going on, the effects may evaporate. It works as long as your trainer can keep the secret.
Years away: 0-2

Is this a viable managerial strategy, even in the short-run?  Would managers be willing to trade the minor gains for a deterioration of trust in the long run?

Check out the full list of ideas here


It is very important to keep a check on time and work, but equally important is to keep employees happy and organized.

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