It is no secret that the last few years have been weird. It is now a cliché to hear about how companies “pivoted” to a remote working model as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. 2022 has seen the world re-open, and business with it. However, many companies still employ remote or hybrid working models. Many business owners aren’t happy.
Microsoft found that over 50% of businesses want workers back in the office 5 days a week. Simultaneously, there is a massive push from employees to make remote work the norm.
The pandemic saw accelerated growth in novel tech solutions – like how to do meetings from home through Zoom. Technology has been solving business problems for centuries: from the printing press and the fax machine, to the cell phone and ultimately the smartphone.
This dispute has create a problem that the professional world has never encountered before. Is it time for a novel solution?
Why Should This Matter To Businesses?
Lockdowns proved to many companies that remote-work maximises employee wellbeing – from more time spent with family, and less time spent commuting. Advocates of remote or hybrid models argue that this model improves work-life balance, increases productivity, and reduces absenteeism.
In contrast, business owners and managers think that if people aren’t in the office, there is an increased likelihood of workers being distracted or feeling isolated. Onboarding remotely is also a unique challenge.
These diametrically opposed viewpoints cannot co-exist. The most common solutions from most companies is the hybrid working model.
The Limitations Of The Hybrid Model
A hybrid model usually exists in one of two styles. Either, employees can work from home or the office as they see fit. Alternatively, some major companies like TeamViewer, have introduced mandatory days in the office for the entire company.
A Harvard study from April this year describes hybrid as the ‘sweet spot’ of hybrid work – the “best of both worlds”. In many industries, employees have more choice than ever before. In the Knowledge economy, finding skilled people is more difficult than ever before. The hybrid ‘sweet spot’ is only limited in that good people can now look for remote only work.
Is “Working from home” The Future?
Many employees report dreading the long and expensive commute, or report not having time to spend with their young children. Hybrid models make it difficult for in-office workers to collaborate with remote employees. By that token, some industries that require intense collaboration simply don’t lend themselves to remote work.
The biggest drawback of attempts to initiate hybrid-working policies, is that if given the choice, most employees are choosing to work from home anyway. Over 50% of professional Americans report working from home most of the time as of early 2022
Can Virtual Reality Bridge The Gap?
WIRED described VR as the “ultimate empathy machine”. A headset allows you to see through the eyes of someone other than yourself. This represents an opportunity for modern companies who are facing the challenges of the current work climate.
VR chat and conference applications like Meta Workrooms and Altspace VR are increasing in popularity. In a business context, they allow companies to have meetings in a quiet meadow, the Sahara desert, or on the surface of Mars. More experimentation with these platforms are important to work out the kinks in the technology. As tech evolves, Innovation is driven by interest and adoption. This is crucial for developers to learn what works and what doesn’t.
The Unique Functionality Of VR For Work
Meta Workrooms allows users to bring your desktop into the app. You can do your work inside the application, while collaborating with colleagues who can also interact with your computer.
VR might not just be for solving the connection problem, through VR chat functionality, that hybrid and full-remote work is often criticised for. As apps like Workrooms mature, they have the potential to improve workplace collaboration and productivity.
The ability to empathise and interact with co-workers in whimsical settings offers the closeness and comradery of the office, except you won’t need to take your fluffy slippers off. Immersive technology is growing in significance, and adoption of VR has been growing steadily over the past 3 years.
VR meetings represent a welcome change in the face of endless Zoom calls, and VR real-time collaboration could be the answer to the issue of no oversight from managers. These solutions are part of the puzzle when tackling the remote-working hurdles.