The future of work is virtual

Originally posted at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/future-work-virtual-linda-ricci

#longpost #musing #futureofwork #XR #virtualreality

When #Covid first hit, I don’t think anyone could foresee just how huge – and ultimately, permanent – its impact would be. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ramifications, through the lens of XR among others (but ultimately, rooted in human behavior!).

From the beginning it seems apparent that many businesses would realize that a #distributedworkforce not only often works, but is an attractive option: cheaper than maintaining office space, but also the ability to recruit talent from anywhere. For people, many now prefer the humanity of #workingfromhome. Cue the home designer of the future, who will have to make sure that “work space” is built into living spaces of the future. Also, can only imagine the impact on human migration! If you can live anywhere, why wouldn’t you?!

But our technology to do so is adapted from the before times. We lose a sense of community when interactions are limited to Brady Bunch-style #zoom calls, let alone all the “soft interactions” that came from running into someone in the hall, or sharing lunch time in the break room. It’s difficult to harness soft skills when there is no informal interactions.

Virtual Reality has the ability to recreate that sense of community with 3D environments where people can interact much more like they would naturally. Platforms like ENGAGE XR Holdings Plc and Spatial are emerging to provide those environments; it is surprising how easily you interact and engage with others. They call it embodiment, & it’s real: someone might physically be thousands of miles away, yet you feel like you’re standing next to them. NB I’ve honestly had more *real* conversations with people/avatars in virtual reality than I’ve even had in a group on Zoom.

Not only that, but you can share visual assets and experiences just like the real world. Brainstorm with everyone posting visuals on a board, or gather around a 3d prototype, which everyone can walk around and try out – it’s so much more than just sitting around a virtual table together.

{Big} Companies are starting to create immersive spaces that replicate their offices, as they are dealing with new employees who’ve never met anyone in the company – and are not gelling and/or feeling like part of the company. Creating a sense of belonging is important to keep people productive and happy.

The future is quite clearly being brought to you by technology that will enable geographically distributed workforces to succeed. Send a new employee a computer, comfy chair and headset – no cubicle needed! Enhancing our lives, IMHO. A win for people, a win for companies. Not so much for commercial real estate.

Augmented reality (#AR), virtual reality (#VR), Internet of Things (#IoT) & Artificial intelligence (#AI) are increasingly converging to bring us the future where we seamlessly move between reality and digital, where digital will overlay and enhance our daily experience, and where real human connections will be forged across a still very large planet.

That’s it for today out loud musing. A lot more to say though.

Note: I did not use the word #Metaverse. Intentionally. Because all of this is part of our enhanced digital future – hence, the Metaverse. “Meta”verse. Another dimension to our reality, brought to you by a set of  interconnected digital / sometimes immersive experiences. I’m a bit allergic to all the hype though. It’s a real concept that will really happen – but not as many think.

That’s another #reallylongpost.

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