Bottom line, remote working or working from home is great. Everyone is like… “Oh wow, that’s awesome, you don’t have to commute or deal with office politics, or even put on pants!”
Yeaaaaah, real talk here. I’ve been working from home or remote for the last five years almost and I think anyone who works this way runs into the same issues of loneliness, distractions and “Holy crap another conference call or video call that is a comedy of errors.” I swear my neighbors might see me twice in the week when I go to pick up my mail and I always look less than fabulous with a shirt that says “No coffee, no workee.” and dog hair covered sweatpants.
What is changing the game for us remote working or work from home folks? Virtual Reality.
No really, I know this seems like a stretch but working in a “virtual reality office” has helped me in so many ways, with anxiety, productivity and focus.
I wasn’t always sure about virtual reality, I nearly fell over and threw up when I tried it many years ago. The technology has changed greatly, if you haven’t tried it in a while, find a friend or a VR arcade in town and try it out.
One of the reasons why I joined my current company Doghead Simulations is because after I saw what they were working on for virtual reality meetings I knew this was the answer to my work from home prayers.
At Doghead Simulations we are all remote in different parts of the world. We don’t pay overhead for a fancy office, we built one in virtual reality. We meet in our virtual reality meeting software rumii many times a week, even though we are avatars, I feel like I am “with” people in an environment just like an office meeting room. We get down to business, but we tell jokes, catch up with each other and brainstorm. We even throw dance parties but don’t tell the boss.
“Avatars? Isn’t that a little weird?” The avatars are pretty expressive using eye tracking in the HTC Vive headset along with hand movements, it’s funny how even if people change their avatars appearance I can still tell who it is by their movements and expressions. We strive to keep our avatars away from being too realistic and out of the “uncanny valley” effect that can make the brain feel uncomfortable. We want people to connect with their co-workers and feel welcome during meetings.
For me, having meetings in virtual reality is a welcomed escape to my busy work day. I no longer dread conference calls, meetings or presentations, I love putting on my HTC Vive VR headset and being able to focus, no dog bothering me to go out potty, no pile of laundry in the corner waiting to be folded. Sometimes if there is a presentation or talk I need to practice I will just go into a meeting room in rumii by myself put my slides up on the screen and go over it in virtual reality, it helps with the jitters and strangely can help prepare you for a real audience if you have some co-workers join for feedback.
One of the things that is special to me, is the human connections that are made in a virtual environment. I am able to connect with customers all over the world in rumii and feel like I am genuinely interacting with them. Having them say “wow!” over and over again when they first realize that avatar is a real person talking back from the other side of the world. I don’t even want to imagine how much we’ve saved our budgets from not having to do those in person meetings.
If you work from home, definitely think about making virtual reality and rumii a part of your home office for next year (Woot! Tax deduction!). It has saved me money and sanity.
Yes, wearing pants is still optional.
Feel free to check out our virtual reality meeting software rumii here: http://rumii.net