Engineering 101

Sensing the Wear and Tear of Commuting

A Dartmouth-led study indicates that data on worker commutes provided via smartphones and fitness devices can predict job performance and improve employee productivity and satisfaction.

The research demonstrates that mobile sensing can identify how commuting affects individual workers. 275 Study participants used a Garmin vivoSmart 3 activity tracker and a smartphone-based sensing app to capture physiological and behavioral patterns during commuting, including activity levels, phone usage, heart rate, and stress. External patterns were also captured including location, weather, commute duration, and commute variability.  95% of the workers drove to work.

The study assessed workers using two recognized criteria of job performance: counterproductive work behavior and organizational citizenship behavior. Differences in commuting patterns included:

  • Sticking to a routine
  • High performers are consistent with physical fitness and stress resilience
  • Low performers have higher stress levels
  • Low performers use their phone more during their commutes

This is the first study using unobtrusive wearables and smartphones to predict worker performance from commuting data alone. Not all commutes are bad. Commuters who are involved in active forms of commuting typically experience increased productivity at work.

Original Release: Eureka Alert

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