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Advances in technology helping businesses to support their employees at work and at home

A new generation of technology is providing inspiration for fast-growing businesses across Yorkshire.

Bob Gomersall, chair of BTL

Bob Gomersall, chair of BTL, which is one of the companies in this year’s Yorkshire Fastest 50 list, believes that recent technological advances are set to revolutionise the training landscape for employees and students.

BTL Group’s assessment platform Surpass is used internationally to create, deliver and mark more than 3 million computer-based tests every year.

Bob said: “Simulations are becoming increasingly common. It’s an exciting time for technology-enhanced assessment and we are very much at the beginning of a new evolutionary chapter for our business. The challenge for us will be to develop the technology further so as to produce assessment techniques that benefit both individuals and the organisations that employ them – but we are confident that this is an attainable goal given the successes we have had to date with the technology currently available to us.

“Immersing a candidate in a simulated environment, such as flying a plane or entering a burning building, is an effective, cost-efficient way to teach new skills and test what individuals have learnt. With this in mind Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality solutions have the potential to bring new dimensions to the assessment sector.”

Another business that is incorporating cutting-edge technology into their business is tech start-up Thought Beanie, which was set up by Simon Harrison and Alyn Morgan in 2015. The company makes hats capable of scanning brainwaves and has recently moved to the University of Leeds’ new £40 million Nexus hub.

The innovative wearables that they have developed use brain wave technology to make complex science work in everyday situations. Their HeadStart golf cap helps players stay calm and think clearly under pressure, whilst their newest product – HeadRest –  trains your brain to sleep soundly and wake refreshed, whatever your lifestyle.

The company is also working with partners to develop parallel applications in the sport, media, construction / manufacturing and corporate wellness sectors, each supported by Nexus, who are responsible for facilitating productive working partnerships and collaborations.

As Simon Harrison from Thought Beanie explains, wearable tech is making us functionally smarter human beings and it’s an urban myth that we use only 10% of our brains. He says: “We actually use 100%, but experience only 10% of our potential. People are your most valuable competitive advantage, but would you reward them for sleeping better at home? Or when they travel overnight on business? How about for beating their personal best on a run? Or to stay safe when concentrating on manual tasks?

“If you’re honest, do you see wearables in the workplace as social indulgence? Or the difference between future success and failure?

“The economic case for wearables that work in work, for work is compelling – including sustaining high performers, competing for new talent, higher productivity, improved compliance, pro-active safety management, reduced cost of Ill-health provision and increased employee retention/loyalty.”

Ward Hadaway Commercial Partner Gareth Yates, said: “The businesses that adopt new technologies such as those developed by BTL Group and Thought Beanie will be the fastest growing businesses of the future as they will be able to manage and monitor the performance of their staff to improve both productivity and employee well-being. The challenge for businesses will be balancing the commercial benefits of this new technology with employee rights, such as in connection with what data is collected from employees and what will be done with that information.

“As well as our Fastest 50 companies we have also seen the rise of these new technologies within the nominations received in this year’s Leeds Digital Festival Awards of which we are the co-sponsor with Amsource Technology. We are looking forward to hearing the stories of those leading the way with these new technologies both at our Fastest 50 Awards event and at the Leeds Digital Festival Awards on 30th April.”

Gareth Yates is a Commercial Partner in the Leeds office at Ward Hadaway. He can be contacted at gareth.yates@wardhadaway.com or on 0113 205 6766.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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