The last Digigram explored “COVID Tech,” which helps us stay productive during COVID. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that 100% remote work works reasonably well. Not for creative work, where serendipitous strokes of genius don’t happen as often when apart, but it’s OK for the other 80% of our work. And companies took advantage. They’re saving money by moving jobs to lower-cost regions, attracting new talent by offering 100% remote jobs, and slashing expenses by not renting and offering a workplace. Good tactical moves!
Once COVID is over, will we go back to normal? With office cubicles, the water cooler, and all?
Or will we build on what we got used to and move on to what comes next—virtual-working?
Remote workers could benefit from an additional layer, such as augmented reality. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown holodeck, but AR could improve the working experience, create a team atmosphere, and spark more of those “lightbulb” genius moments.
I predict that after a year of acclimatization to Zoom, going entirely virtual is not a big step anymore. Not sure? How big a step was it for you to adapt from your last water cooler chat experience to your first Clubhouse experience? See, not that big.
The usual suspects are all building suites of products to move the New Work into virtual or, at least, augmented reality. As Magic Leap says: Reality is just beginning. I’m confident that COVID accelerated a wave of innovations and a race towards the first acceptable entirely virtual-working experience.
Here are two exciting approaches to the next reality of virtual-working:
Magic Leap pivoted last year and now wants to be a “spatial computer,” replacing the static computer screen with a fully immersive AR experience for its user. There are no traces of Magic Leap’s gaming origins left on the website – it’s all about enterprise applications now.
They coined a term I’d never heard but which I find quite appropriate: Copresence. One developer describes it as “meet with anyone … as if you were in the same room.” It’s an experience that could come close to meeting in reality. Add floating whiteboards, deduct lost post-it notes. Yes, I could do this!
“Platforms and devices like Workplace, Portal, and Oculus were built for a time when economic opportunity might no longer depend on geography, a time when what you do could matter more than where you are. That time starts now.”. Facebook also rode the horse of remote working by promoting their “Workplace” suite of tools meant to help remote teams collaborate and be better informed (and I’m sure leveling up to competitors Slack and Teams was a motivator as well).
The exciting part is in the top left corner of this image from Facebook’s website. It’s the Oculus headset, which Facebook includes in their business offerings, making AR/VR a part of the remote office tools suite – on par with group video conferencing, chat, timelines, video production, and live streaming. Who needs a fake Zoom background when you’ve got that?