Most brick-and-mortar business owners have some sort of code of conduct in place for their customers, employees, or perhaps both. Whether it’s something as basic as “shirt and shoes required” or as advanced as a social media community policy, most business owners get the importance of establishing expectations upfront. But are they prepared for the next big battlefield?
Google Glass, in case you’ve been trapped under a rock lately, is a wearable computer that can be worn alone or mounted on glasses, and is capable of taking photos, videos, and supplying the wearer with all kinds of information on the go. While there has been some generally good-natured ribbing of Glass wearers based on the ‘face computer’s” appearance, the real backlash has come from privacy concerns over the photo/video capabilities of the device.
It’s worth noting that the wearer does have to touch or speak to Glass in order to take photos and videos, as is pointed out in a great CNN article about fighting fears with education. So while fears about cyborg-people walking around recording all day long unbeknownst to those around them are a bit over-blown, they are nonetheless understandable.
Those fears can sometimes result in nightmare public relations scenarios for business owners. As evidenced the story of writer Sarah Slocum who was assaulted in a bar for wearing Glass, or the recent torrent of negative reviews given to the NYC restaurant Feast for asking Katy Kasmai to remove her device, Glass has the potential to cause big problems for businesses. The best way to protect yourself? Get ahead of the issue.
While you might think, “Glass is still so rare, the chances of a device walking into my business are slim” or maybe “I don’t operate the type of business where this would be a problem” it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The kind of policy you develop for your establishment is entirely up to you – whether you choose to be welcoming to the new technology or more conservative. The important thing is to have a policy in the first place, so everyone knows where you stand and you can react quickly.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Someone might try to point out that anything in plain view in public can be photographed according to law. That’s true – but on private property, photographers must defer to the rules set out by the property’s owner. So you are within your rights to prohibit photography (or even potential photography) within your business.
- Glass wearers are tech savvy and digitally well connected. So when you’re forming your policy, bear in mind that you should treat everyone with respect even if you don’t agree with their tech choices. Not only is it a good life rule, it might just save you from immediate online backlash.
- Your policy can be as black-and-white or as nuanced as you like. You can expressly welcome Glass, you can prohibit Glass-wearing entirely, you can allow it to be worn if turned off, etc. If you need some inspiration, check out Google’s own Glass Dos and Don’ts.
- If you don’t mind Google Glass in your business at all, you can choose to have a policy that protects Glass wearers by providing an advisory to other patrons that you do allow it and will not tolerate harassment of Glass wearers.
Whether you want to protect yourself as a business owner, protect your customers, or safeguard your brand’s reputation, it’s important that you stay on top of developing tech like Glass, and are ahead of the game when it comes to your business’s policies.
What is your reaction to Glass in your business? Are you concerned, or do you wonder what the big deal is? Please share your thoughts in the comments!