Using the Apple Watch for Corporate Wellness
Apple's New Program Supports Corporate Wellness Initiatives
Published Feb 6, 2017
For ages, wearable technology has been trying to get people healthier. Consider the earliest type of interactive watches from the 1980s, with basic stopwatch functionality built into an easy to wear device. In the ensuing decades, pedometers and heart rate sensors also added into the fold, providing data and tracking in the simplest ways to help people get healthier.
At the same time, corporate health and wellness initiatives evolved. Recall the era depicted in Mad Men, where smoking happened in the office and bottles of liquor were stored in desk drawers. Today, corporations understand that promoting employee health and wellness isn't just an HR perk, it actually saves the company time by helping to cultivate a culture of healthy choices -- the healthier the employees, the more efficiently and effectively they'll work, all while using less sick and medical time.
The Apple Watch and Health Goals
Apple has always been a forward-thinking company, and the Apple Watch is the perfect device to help achieve health goals. With everyday apps like Activity and more involved apps like Workout and the Nike app for more ambitious exercise goals, the Apple Watch is a leader in the health area of wearable tech -- in fact, a recent study found the Apple Watch to be the most accurate for heart-rate among the wearable tech space (Fitbit and other competitors). Now the tech giant has brought these two things together with its new corporate initiative. Simply put, under this initiative, everyone wins.
Get Started with Apple’s Corporate Wellness Initiative
The Apple Watch corporate initiative aims to provide a new tech-savvy step forward in getting your employees as healthy as they can be. With its available features, social connectivity through the Activity app and achievements, and easy-to-customize features such as one-click release of watch bands, Apple wants to make the Apple Watch the centerpiece of your corporate health and wellness initiative.
This is achieved in three steps:
Step 1: Offer the Apple Watch to employees
The iPhone is already part of the corporate landscape, and similarly the iPad is used as a supplementary screen/device by many companies. The Apple Watch completes that ecosystem (note that the Apple Watch requires a paired iPhone for much of its functionality). The Apple Watch purchasing program is available for companies of all sizes. For smaller companies (less than 100 employees), it's as simple as contacting your local Apple Store. For companies with a larger volume of participants, program facilitators can contact Apple directly through the initiative's website.
Step 2: Set up your program
Once you've received your Apple Watches and distributed them to staff, it's time to get them moving. A range of wellness providers are already established with this protocol, and in fact have apps that can work with the Apple Watch. These include Virgin Pulse, Lose It, and the Vitality apps.
Step 3: Get moving!
The next step is for employees to simply set up their Apple Watch and begin participating in the program. Apple provides an Online Personal Setup appointment with a live specialist -- these appointments can be scheduled online for a one-to-one session. These sessions are designed to help you get the most out of your Apple Watch, including personalized calibration and setting up your apps to get the most out of their functionality, include their team-building features.
At-Work Health Benefits
The Apple Watch is more than a nifty piece of wearable technology that syncs up with your iPhone. Its features and apps are designed to focus on helping you achieve better health -- and you don’t have to be a weekend warrior to make that happen. In fact, the primary app -- Activity -- is designed to help you take care of simple everyday goals. One of the biggest reasons why the Apple Watch is so effective in the corporate wellness space is that it sets the bar for simple-but-critical achievements.
The core Apple Watch fitness app isn’t about running laps or swimming miles or cycling for hours. Instead it’s about setting basic everyday health goals that we often overlook. The move ring calculates how many calories you’ve burned through movement (based on calibration data from your Apple Watch), along with steps and distance. The stand goal tracks how many times you get up and stand for more than sixty seconds. If you don’t move for at least an hour, it’ll ping you and remind you to stretch those legs. Finally, the exercise goal tallies your total time with an elevated heart rate through exercise, with the goal of meeting the recommended time of 30 minutes per day. These three goals are displayed and tracked on the app’s standard ring indicators.
Want to get more in depth? The Workout app is one of the Apple Watch’s most popular apps. Easy to use, it’s programmed to track activity for a range of workouts (bike, run, stairs, elliptical, etc.). Simply open up the app, select your activity, and set your goal for the session. The Workout app lets you check your progress toward your goal, check your workout history, mark segments and milestones, even pause the workout or continue tracking while going into a power-saving mode. If you have an Apple Watch Series 2, you can use the swim option to track your distance and speed while you swim thanks to that model’s waterproof capabilities (up to 50 meters in depth). As Workout depends on fine measurements to maximize its accuracy, this is best used after calibrating with via an Online Personal Setup with a live specialist.
Corporate health and wellness experts often cite the benefits of controlled breathing in a stressful work environment, particularly during hectic times. The Breathe app is designed to help you with this. By setting a session length, the app will guide you through deep breathing exercises. This data is tracked to let you see how often you’ve remembered to do some deep breathing to re-center yourself and settle your central nervous system. The app also provides optional regular reminders to make sure you’re not getting too stressed out throughout the day.
The Apple Watch is a personal device but part of its beauty stems from the fact that it offers ways to connect people as a group. For the Activity app in particular, users can create their own lists of up to ten people to share and compare results with. The Activity app sends notifications when contacts achieve daily goals, hit Achievements, or do other noteworthy milestones. It also allows for quick instant messaging for encouragement and congratulations, even friendly taunting.
All of this stems from the idea that gamification and competition is the key to getting people to stick with their health routine. In addition to the community aspect of it, Activity delivers Achievements for attaining certain goals, very similar to Achievements and Trophies on video game consoles. Apple has a standard list of Activity Achievements but also releases seasonal ones, such as “Walk 5K on Thanksgiving” to encourage specialized activity.
All of these turns basic health and wellness activities into something more. Combined with a corporate wellness initiative and it's easy to use these features as a way to engage larger groups, create competition, and deliver company rewards for achieving health milestones. The connectivity and gamification aspects of Activity create an ecosystem that's helpful to corporate environments of any size.
Don't Forget the Watch Band
Of course, the Apple Watch is designed for a variety of functions, and while many of its features focus on the health and wellness side, it's also an effective extension of the iPhone for notifications and quick communication. Because of that, it's worth considering the Apple Watch's one-touch release of its watch band. The default model that comes with most Apple Watches is a standard everyday wear-and-tear watch band -- it looks good but isn't necessarily eveningwear for going out. At the same time, it's not going to stand up to the constant rigors of a workout.
At Monowear, we're big fans of the diverse functionality of the Apple Watch, and because of this, we recommend having three watch bands: one for everyday use, one for sports and working out (both for physically securing the Apple Watch and for easy cleaning of sweat and grime), and one for going out. In a corporate health and wellness initiative, you're going to get the full spectrum of users, from people who are satisfied with meeting walking goals to those who use the Activity and Workout apps for more vigorous daily exercising. As a program facilitator, it's a good idea to let staff know about the watch band one-touch release feature and that they have many watch band options.
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