Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display. It looks like eyeglasses, but can take pictures, record video, send messages, give information about what you’re looking at, and more. Naturally, this presents both opportunities and risks for employers, and it’s tough to judge whether this new technology will be an asset or liability for employers.
“A number of places have already banned the use – even though not available to the public yet – and if access to confidential material is part of a job with the company, you may want to consider the same.” Jason A. Storipan advised in a recent BLR webinar.
While some employers have already banned Google Glass, there may be some advantages to allowing it. Before banning, employers may want to think long and hard about that first. Perhaps the company could benefit from it, especially for marketing purposes. Here are some examples of potential benefits:
- Real-time sharing of an experience might entice others to try the product or service. It allows you to broadcast the customer experience.
- Google Glass could be a benefit to HR investigations.
- It could change how meetings are held around the country—the meetings could be broadcast or displayed.
- It could impact the ability to watch products being made, which might influence customer behavior.
- It could help with safety by monitoring when employees are not focused. This could in turn improve product quality.
Google Glass: What Should Employers Be Wary Of?
While the points above outline the potential benefits of Google Glass, employers also face some potential problems:
- Employees and employers alike will be unable to know when a person is recording a conversation.
- There could be employee productivity and communications issues because some employees may become reluctant to talk to the wearer out of concern for privacy.
- There are potential harassment issues because the device can be set to be constantly recording. What happens when it is recording in the bathroom, for example?
- It becomes very easy to disseminate trade secrets by accident.
What should employers do about Google Glass?
“As with any new technology being brought into your company, review the current policies and consider adopting new ones to address the new changes and the new capabilities.” Storipan advised. Smartphones and cell phones didn’t exist in the past, and those can connect to the internet and create similar concerns, yet they are part of the current technology landscape and we have adapted. If necessary, employers will need to modify existing policies to minimize the possible legal liabilities. Think about what to prohibit (i.e., places where recording won’t be allowed) and what shouldn’t even be allowed to be stored (such as confidential information) on the device, even if not sent to others. Adapt policies accordingly.
For more information on how Google Glass might affect employers, order the webinar recording of “From Smartphones to Google Glass: What Employers Must Know About E-Monitoring in the Workplace.” To register for a future webinar, visit http://store.blr.com/events/webinars.
Jason Storipan is an associate in the New Jersey office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. His practice involves representing employers in all types of labor and employment disputes and assisting and advising clients in pre-litigation matters.