How Communications Can Be Improved in Virtual Workplaces

Switching Between Messaging Applications and Video Conferencing Services

A businesswoman wearing a VR headset running a business meeting remotely
A businesswoman wearing a VR headset running a business meeting remotely

The majority of workers have described remote work during the pandemic as switching between messaging applications and video conferencing services like Slack, Teams, and Miro using the alt-tab key. And there is unquestionably a great deal of space for improvement.

According to academic studies, when coworkers operate remotely, it negatively affects their ability to collaborate. Communication is hampered since real-time in-person talks are being replaced by exchanges over email or Slack.

Google has asserted that casual conversations at coffee shops and lunch counters on its campus are what gave rise to technologies like Gmail and Street View. But with remote working, these kinds of happy accidents practically vanish.

Of course, remote employment has costs related to individual well-being as well. Intense eye contact, immobility, self-consciousness about one's own video stream, and the cognitive difficulties of having to provide exaggerated feedback to express understanding, agreement, or worry are all factors that contribute to so-called "Zoom fatigue," according to Stanford researchers.

An image of a virtual workspace desk
An image of a virtual workspace desk

Solutions to various issues associated with remote working are now possible because of technological advancements. There is existing collaboration software like Meta's Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft Mesh that enables coworkers to meet as VR avatars or participate in a real-world meeting as a photo-realistic hologram.

Businesses will undoubtedly create persistent VR workspaces in the metaverse 1.0 where employees may communicate in real-time as embodied avatars. It is possible to create chance encounters and hallway conversations in virtual reality simulations of offices.

Imagine, for instance, that you had to leave the conference room and cross a busy virtual atrium to get from one remote meeting to another. The Korean PropTech company Zigbang has already created a 30-floor VR workplace dubbed Metapolis, which may seem far-fetched. Employees select an avatar and use elevators and hallways to get to their desks. Their webcam and microphone are turned on so they may communicate when they come face-to-face with a coworker's avatar. As their avatar leaves, the webcam and microphone turn off automatically.

However, remote meetings in VR should be more interesting and less sedentary thanks to the capability to use and read body language as well as actively participate in group discussions by making post-it notes or drawing on a virtual whiteboard. Compared to an hour on Zoom, they demand a lot greater active use of the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.

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