Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Fitbit rolls out 'Ready for Work' COVID-19 symptom tracker

The service gives employees access to key health metrics, as well as a way to log self-reported symptoms, to help determine if they're ready to return to work.

Should I go back to the office? Fitbit rolls out COVID-19 symptom tracker

Fitbit on Tuesday rolled out a new COVID-19 symptom tracking service called "Ready for Work." The service gives employees access to key health metrics, as well as a way to log self-reported symptoms, to help them determine if it's safe for them to get back to work. 

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With Ready to Work, employees are expected to check in each morning and log information about their recent exposure to COVID-19 and any test results. They can also log their temperature and self-reported symptoms. Alongside that information, employees can view changes in their resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and breathing rate. Based on these factors, the service offers daily guidance on whether to go to work or stay home. 

Employers, meanwhile, get access to a dashboard to monitor employees' readiness to return to work, as well as any potential exposure risks within their workforce. They can also track whether employees are enrolled and using the app. It also comes with in-app communications and alert capabilities. 

Fitbit makes the case that the biometric data collected with the Ready to Work service is more useful for COVID-19 screening than simple on-site temperature checks or screenings. 

Also: What effect has coronavirus, self-isolation, and quarantine had on weight, sleep, and activity levels? Fitness trackers offer an insight

"Wearable devices are powerful because they measure nuances in biometrics potentially indicating the onset of illness that cannot be detected during a regular physician office visit," Dr. Michael Snyder, director of Stanford's Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, said in a statement delivered via Fitbit. "When measuring heart rate, even an increase of two heartbeats per minute could be indicative of a significant immune system response, which is why wearable devices can be important tools in assessing the overall health of employees as they prepare to return to work, especially when evaluating pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19."

With Ready to Work, employees can also access the Fitbit Care suite of services, which includes webinars, podcasts, videos, and other content from Fitbit health coaches. 

In the past few years, as Fitbit has struggled to keep in the growing wearables market, it has put more focus on enterprise health solutions. Leveraging the wealth of data its users provide and forging partnerships in the health sector to build useful integrations, the company has built up a platform of workplace wellness tools. 

In late 2019, after its own struggles in the wearables space, Google announced it was acquiring Fitbit for $2.1 billion.