What is a virtual office? 3 reasons why metavers can solve the reopening challenge

Establishing a shared space for in-person staff, remote workers, and clients can reduce the distance between all of these groups.

Sophya builds virtual spaces for meetings, social events and conferences. The design includes avatars and video windows.

“data-credit =” Image: Sophya “>

Sophya builds virtual spaces for meetings, social events and conferences. The design includes avatars and video windows.

Image: Sophya

It’s easier than ever to get an entry into metaverse and this virtual world is more relevant than you think for office life. You don’t need to distribute virtual reality headsets across your computer before trying out a virtual world, and you don’t have to create your own space from scratch.

Virtual offices are immune to the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases and there is no need to verify the status of vaccination.

Microsoft and Facebook are committed to their claims in this immersive, interactive and collaborative space that includes virtual reality, augmented reality and holograms. There are also many companies in the space that will help you organize an event or a training session in a virtual space.

According to Scott Likens, PwC’s emerging technology leader, some of the most important hurdles to adopting a broader reality of workplace reality in the workplace are the idea that technology is just for play and the fear that it will be difficult to implement.

“Once we force our executives to come in, they have a light bulb moment,” he said.

Virbela CEO and founder Alex Howard said there is an adjustment period for virtual office residents, but it is not a clear learning curve.

“There’s a bit of a cognitive load when you try something new, but your brain adapts,” he said.

It’s worth investing time and money to try out a virtual space before the end of the year. Here are three reasons, three factors to consider in the vendor selection process, and three ways to experiment with virtual reality at work.

Three reasons to experiment with a virtual space

1. It is a place that all employees have in common

Even if everyone works in one office, they may work in several different cities or on different continents. A virtual space creates a common experience for everyone, whether you work from home, from a satellite office, or from the main office. Companies can also bring clients and customers to these spaces, too, to reduce the need to travel for meetings.

A recent Forrester report on virtual offices lists one of the benefits as a place to exchange information that can replace face-to-face interactions. According to the report, virtual office spaces can create a sense of physical presence that smooths the exchange of information.

A shared virtual space can also build and reinforce a shared culture, according to the report. A well-designed virtual space can “create a sense of belonging, set standards of behavior, and build trust among colleagues, at a time when corporate culture is eroding due to the pandemic.

2. Show that you are willing to experiment

Employee experience is a growing priority for companies and, according to survey after survey, it is clear that people want flexibility as to when and where they work. Creating a shared virtual space is one way to bring people together and provide that flexibility at the same time.

Brian Kropp, head of research for Gartner’s human resources practice, said companies should be prepared to experiment over the next 12 to 18 months to find the hybrid design that works best for their businesses.

Creating a virtual workspace is one way to change the work routine in a measurable way. Testing a virtual office shows employees that managers are willing to try something new that isn’t normal.

Accenture began its virtual reality experiments in 2020, when the pandemic prevented travel. The company built a virtual lounge for 150 CEOs in 25 countries and found that “the combination of realistic avatars and meeting spaces provided a deeper sense of connection” and allowed people to enjoy time face to face from from their own offices. The company now has a “ninth floor” to create a shared employee experience. AltspaceVR is built on Microsoft Mesh, a mixed reality platform the company launched in March.

3. Create a uniform playing field

Despite all the promises of a new hybrid way of working, it’s easy to step back from the old ways of working. This often translates into more opportunities for people that managers see face to face every day and less for remote people. One way to level the playing field is to create a space with equal access for all.

Leslie Tarnacki, senior vice president of global human resources at WorkForce Software, said in an interview with TechRepublic that people who choose to work remotely should have equal access to all resources (including promotions and time with managers) that face-to-face workers. to own.

“Companies need to understand that they need to invest in the technology that is there for everyone right now,” he said.

Establishing a shared space can also support goals of inclusion and diversity. Virtual spaces can make it easier for fathers (especially mothers) and black employees to have equal access to colleagues and managers.

Three design elements to consider for RV at work

Introducing something new to work is always a challenge, especially when it is unknown to many people, such as virtual reality experiences. Only about 20% of people in the United States have used RV using headphones or some other format. However, “history shows that the right use case, combined with the right investments in change management, can help employees see the value of new technologies,” Forrester analysts said in the report of the virtual office.

Here are three things to do when designing a virtual reality work experience. Getting these items right could increase uptake and tip the odds of success in your favor.

  1. Carefully select an avatar style

The user’s first introduction to a virtual space is the avatar. Scott Likens, an emerging technology leader at PwC, said people often feel more comfortable on platforms that use a full-body avatar.

“Human directions make you feel more comfortable,” he said.

After creating an account, the user chooses the hair style, skin color, clothes and other accessories. Both Virbela and Sophya use full-body avatars, but Virbela looks bigger, while Sophya users are on a smaller scale. Oculus Quest 2 avatars have an infinite number of customization options (clothing, hair, accessories) and are full-length in some applications. In Workroom, everyone is sitting in a chair and the avatars are only shown from the waist up.

When selecting a platform, incorporate the amazing valley into your assessment. Professor Masahiro Mori coined the term in the 1970s to describe the restless sensation created by simulated robots or humans that seem too real. He observed this negative reaction to certain robots as a feeling of strangeness and sometimes fear. Virtual reality avatars should look human enough, but they should be read as something different from real life. This makes it cool, not creepy.

2. Directional sound is another good indicator

Directional sound provides a better virtual environment. Virbela’s virtual offices have several audio signals that replicate real-life settings, including directional sound. When a person walks away, the voice fades. If a person changes position in relation to another user, their voice also changes direction.

Another audio function controls the volume in certain settings. Conversations held at tables or other spaces enclosed in a blue ring are private. Passers-by do not hear what is being said without entering the blue circle. These circles can be turned off to indicate the start of a speaker or other presentation.

3. No headphones needed

Don’t expect headphones to be as common as Xbox ones before trying out a virtual workspace. Several companies offer virtual experiences that do not require headphones. Virbela has an app and a web version of their virtual experience. More people can join a meeting in the app and there are also more customization options.

Facebook’s Horizon workspaces can be visited via Oculus Quest 2 headphones or a web app, and people can also join them via video conferencing.

Sophya’s desktop application is another option for virtual offices without headphones. In this software, avatars interact in the virtual space and there is also a video window for each user.

Gather also has a browser-based virtual office. Avatars are small, squat creatures that appear to have been raised from a platform game, even as users navigate space from a top-down perspective. The Gather interface also includes user video windows in the virtual space that are arranged around the edge.

Altspace also has a 2D option for desktop users. Spatial, another virtual reality space, works on Oculus Quest, Hololens, Magic LeapiOS, Android and in a browser.

You can now do three virtual reality experiments

McKinsey’s latest COVID-19 analysis showed that herd immunity is beyond the reach of most countries. This means that companies will need to continue to adjust their return-to-office strategies. Virtual environments are not affected by COVID-19 case rates. Trying out a virtual office could resolve a small part of the current uncertainty and establish a new routine.

  1. Perform training: This format can be more effective than others for certain topics, and this approach is a good way to get people focused. There is no multitasking with VR headsets.
  2. Organize an event: This is another way to test the waters without committing to building a completely virtual space. Virbela, Gather and Sophya offer event services.
  3. Open a dining room: Sophya used her platform to create a kind of mixed reality experience. Employees ordered food in a virtual dining room, which was loaded into the company and then delivered. People could virtually mingle and enjoy lunch in real life.
Accenture has created a “nth =” “floor =” “in =” “altspacevr =” “that =” “uses =” “microsoft =” “mesh =” “to =” “bring =” “people =” “together = “” a = “” virtual = “” setting. = “” data-credit = “Image: Accenture”>avatars gathered in a meeting room

Accenture built an “Nth Floor” in AltspaceVR that uses Microsoft Mesh to bring people together in a virtual environment.

Image: Accenture

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