For millions of sedentary, overweight office workers, changing habits is, literally, a life or death matter. Healthy living and exercising have been shown to have a significant impact on life expectancy, with some studies suggesting that sedentary people are more than thrice prone to dying from heart diseases than active ones.
Employees' wellbeing is a key issue that companies must address to bring happiness and motivation at work, as stressed out and unhealthy employees turn into a financial burden as well; while it's difficult to obtain precise data, it is estimated that, within the EU, the costs of work-related depression are about €617bn annually.
While solutions that address corporate wellbeing do already exist, a comprehensive platform combining AI and gamification techniques to increase employees' engagement, was still lacking. Live Well Work Well (L3W), an innovation activity supported by EIT Digital as part of its Digital Wellbeing focus area, is going to fill this void, providing an all-in-one solution to automatically track employees' fitness activities with wearables and Internet of Medical Things devices and stimulating them in performing personalized fitness circuits with their colleagues.
The initiative is led by Italian company Santer Reply, with DFKI and OKKAM as partners. L3W's online platform aims at encouraging healthier lifestyle by profiling the employees and assigning them fitness activities to perform during the week. Compliance is totally voluntary and there's no obligation towards the company or the physicians. Occupational doctors, however, will have access to the software, to monitor the employee's health conditions and whether he is actually engaged in the recommended activities.
"After registering to the platform, the employee needs to fill a survey, created in collaboration with a physician, and designed to evaluate three main risks: cardiovascular, osteoarticular and metabolic," L3W's activity leader Luca Foti explains, "for each of these risks a high, medium or low score is assigned." Based on this preliminary assessment, different workout circuits, each six-months long, with weekly sub-tasks, are proposed.
"We take into account the employee's preferences as well and suggest activities that were appreciated by colleagues with similar profiles. Gamification is then triggered to increase participation rates: badges can be unlocked for milestones achievements and teams can be formed, so that employees can challenge each other," Foti says.
Performance data can be tracked in two ways: either automatically, by means of a FitBit wearable bracelet - for activities such as running, walking or cycling - or by workers manually uploading them into the platform. A "health corner" will also be created at the surgery, with medical devices that will measure the employees' heart rate, weight and blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and automatically upload the data to the L3W dashboard. A first pilot testing of the platform will take place by mid-September in Turin, Italy, with a second trial scheduled for November.
As health data contains potentially sensitive information, only doctors will be able to visualize them, whereas the company's HR department will have access only to the gamification achievements and engagement stats at an aggregated level.