Smartphone - Laptop - Headset: the new digital employee.

Smartphone - Laptop - Headset. SLH! That is what we believe is going to be the tool combination of the employees in the next years.

Almost every day, there is an article about the future of collaboration and working in newspapers and magazines. We read about these experiences during the lockdown and what effect it had; psychologically and economically. We learn how working reality is changing and about visions of how it is going to be after Corona. Many articles foresee a significant shift from traditional office presence to the home office. Some comments say that this change is going to be deeper than we had initially thought. Some companies have expressed that the home-office is going to be a significant part of the new normal. And that office spaces are going to be reduced and transformed into collaborative spaces.

At Circle4x we have made some exciting experiences ourselves. In September 2019, we had started the process to install our own VR-Office Spaces. Driven by the desire to be travelling less and reducing our CO2 footprint, we wanted to create an alternative to physical meetings. Not that we don't believe in the 1:1 meetings, we remain convinced that personal meetings and interactions between humans cannot be exchanged. It is essential for building up a relationship to and understanding humans. But some meetings we could have invested our time better rather than just spending hours getting there.

So together with our Partners Arthur Technologies, we designed a space for VR (virtual reality). We opened this space in February of this year, and since then we as a team use it every day. Each member of our team has their avatar that looks like the real person. We use the VR spaces to discuss topics and exchange presentation we have prepared, or complete training and workshop sessions with our clients.

We have experienced that the interaction in this VR office gave us a lot. Apart from the possibility to meet our partners and team members located in UK, Italy and Germany, in times of social distancing we can intensively collaborate with them. In our VR office, we immerse ourselves into the topic that we want to discuss without being distracted from smartphones or computers where messages continue to pop up. And the feeling of sitting next to each other discussing is very impressive and also great fun. There are situations in this environment, where you excuse yourself for digitally standing so close to the other person that it feels you are invading someone's space. It is a real-world reaction that you automatically and subconsciously. VR can mirror some real-life experiences.

Seeing this and the reaction of our clients whom we offer workshops and training in VR, we can feel that there is a shift in the approach and use of VR. Original seen as a gaming application, VR is now at the beginning of its journey to conquering business.

VR is not the solution for all communicational, but it is an impressive tool for collaboration and training needs. In April* PwC published a research paper on the impact of VR workplace training. The results are significant.

  • x4 more focused than e-learning.
  • x4 faster than traditional classroom learning.
  • 275% more confidence to act on what you have learnt.
  • x3.75 more emotionally connected to the content than classroom or e-learners.

Managers and Teams can use the new technology to bring their people together for an immersive and interactive meeting and get back to work without needing to travel. It is not a meeting with humans, but it gets very close. Seeing your team, interacting, exchanging in a way that gets closer to reality than any phone or videoconference can do.

And apart from these benefits, it has a considerable effect on the costs of a brand—no travels or accommodation costs, no lost time on a physical journey.

In future, and this has just started, employees will therefore be working with their smartphones, their laptops, their VR headsets. At home, in the shared office, anywhere! SLH - the new digital employee setup.

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