Covid-19 context and the rise of remote working
In the Covid-19 era, companies have to reshape their organizational model to cope with recent physical distancing measures. Regardless of company size, remote work is emerging as the new norm for businesses and organizations. With remote workforce, the major challenge is to keep people connected and avoid feelings of isolation.
How can you maintain connection and cohesion if people are not physically side by side? How do you engage employees into a corporate culture from different locations?
Nowadays, new technologies allow us to do things we could not before. And teamwork is no exception. Will the next generation of technologies shape the future of work, as they contribute to better communication and information sharing?
Can extended reality address these new issues related to the massive use of remote work? Moreover, do these technologies have the power to foster teamwork and corporate social life through “remote presence”?
But first, let us dive into the definition of “extended reality”.
Extended reality (XR) encompasses all combined real and virtual technologies (VR, AR, MR) in one terminology. It largely refers to the reshaping of reality in part or all of the virtual universe. The primary nature of these technologies is to alter the user’s perception of reality.
Remote working and the barriers of traditional means of collaboration
The current health crisis is challenging the work organization we knew. Workplaces have become a health threat, as closed offices, meetings, and business lunches can increase the spread of Covid-19. Tech giants have considered remote work for their executives, employees who are not required to be in the office (unlike maintenance, for example). Some tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, or Twitter now allow their employees to telecommute permanently.
While there are many advantages to working remotely, some people felt the disadvantages, and the inequalities that already existed seemed to increase during the lockdown.
However, the spread of remote work without the conditions of lockdown will clear up these issues. Nowadays, many organizations look to make remote working a permanent option given the potential cost, productivity, and talent attraction benefits. Therefore, a move to remote working to make it a permanent condition can be the main element that change people’s behavior. We will be able to leave big cities and small apartments if we work remotely from home as we can work from anywhere. But one of the major problems with remote work is the isolation of individuals, which in turn leads to a breakdown in team bonding. A lot of remote workers struggle most with loneliness, and for them, collaboration and communication represent the greatest effort they must make.
The fact that teams do not (or are not be able to) work side by side increases the lack of interaction, project management, and stimulation. Problems and issues may take longer to resolve because teams are not directly face-to-face. Therefore, working remotely seems to damage team building and team cohesion.
How can there be cohesion between teams and employees without physical contact and face-to-face discussion? Social interactions and relationships should not suffer from physical barriers. The restrictive measures taken due to the Covid-19 lockdown highlight the use of communication technologies.
Meetings and the XR Experience era
Remote working is good. But effective virtual meetings in times of increased remote working are better. Remote meeting is no comparison to a traditional, face to face or in-person office meeting. Nowadays, virtual meetings must face many challenges compared to traditional meetings and here are some of them:
Selecting the right tools for your virtual meetings
Skype, Teams, Slack, and Zoom are just a few examples of technologies contributing to remote meetings. Each offers particular features, so make sure you choose the right tools for your virtual meetings and make them a success.
This is the most difficult challenge to face for virtual meetings as they are limited to audio and visual cues only. Thus, we cannot perceive in-person meetings where body language and gestures add to a speaker’s words. This can create communication problems and even worse, problems related to the understanding.
XR technologies appear to have many aspects to address these communication problems. In XR environments, there can be immersive communicative environments between collaborators. For example, virtual meeting rooms with a board that everyone can write on.
XR technologies enable other collaborative actions to be performed and executed. They can enhance the remote work experience as well as improve team cooperation or share common experiences. Instead of just talking via video calls, employees using XR can perform common tasks. In a virtual environment, teams can collaborate next to each other, and it is possible to have an entire team or company in the same virtual room.
Teams and co-workers can socialize and work in a virtual world that is completely invented and made for a given company. XR allows colleagues to brainstorm together, but also to share content while editing and designing it. With XR, a user can also physically act on the content, thus being more involved.
Compared to a video call, interacting with a colleague in a virtual world using XR enhances the user’s involvement. For example, in a virtual environment, co-workers can edit or create a presentation or a common document at the same time. A virtual world has the advantage of being a shared and simultaneous space. Users are together in a collaborative environment and therefore do not feel like they are still at home. In addition, extended reality technologies can be used to invent more playful and collaborative events such as immersive challenges or games. Again, employees could undertake activities together and simultaneously. In addition, XR technologies can be used on many different media (PC, phone, VR headsets, etc.) and are therefore effective everywhere.
Extended reality technologies are not intended to be used only for remote working. They can be combined with traditional communication technologies to organize team and employee events. For example, there may be a meeting in a virtual world to leverage the same document with colleagues.
UpRooM, the future of collaboration
UpRooM, built with an agile perspective, breaks the barriers of collaborative work, and offers a complete virtual environment for your meetings, trainings and innovation project management. This solution creates a flexible workspace adapted to respond quickly to changes.
UpRooM allows meetings to take place virtually. Participants can share virtual elements in a virtual meeting room and work on these elements with post-it notes. Dedicated to creating an interactive virtual environment for meetings, participants can easily collaborate as if they were in the same room, and a selection of tools helps them gather real-time feedback, share information and track each other’s work from anywhere.