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New tools aim to make WFH less lonely
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Work from home (WFH) can be lonely if you don’t have an effective remote work communication strategy in place. This is especially true for those who may have only embarked on WFH in response to the pandemic, forcing them to shake off their office-bound habits and establish a new method to ensure productivity.

But even a year-and-a-half into the global pandemic, many folks still struggle with feelings of isolation. Fortunately, a slew of tech companies are on the case and developing new solutions that aim to make homebound workers feel like they’re in the office again.

First, there’s Video Window and Video Window Remote, which combine audio and video to turn any user’s screen (ie. their tablet or even a smart TV) into an interactive view of the office they’re missing.

“Using Video Window is exactly like looking through a window to see your colleagues. It enables you to really be present with the people you work with while successfully completing your projects and accomplishing your goals, making work better, more enjoyable, fun and leveling the playing field for all. Ultimately creating a happy hybrid workplace,” Video Window CEO Daryl Hutchings said in a statement.

Image Credit: Video Window

Image Credit: Video Window

This technology is more or less a video conferencing platform that goes above and beyond in helping remote workers nail the “feeling” of an office, even when they’ve never left their apartment on a given day. With the addition of the Video Window Remote app, teams can even bring the sights and sounds of the office to any residential workstation via their TV or tablet; a dream for some, but a potential distraction for others.

Facebook is taking a more encompassing approach to solving the remote work isolation issue by leveraging their nascent virtual reality (VR) Metaverse for the workplace. Dubbed Horizon Workrooms, the new program is an extension of what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbuerg dubs “an embodied internet” that’s described by Facebook as an “open beta” for Oculus Quest.

Essentially, users put on their Oculus VR set, and use Workrooms to virtually enter a conference setting populated by cartoon lookalikes of their coworkers and collaborators. While these VR avatars are a bit more detailed than your standard Nintendo Mii, they still lack many human characteristics (ie. legs) that still make the overall experience feel akin to a true conference.

You can fit 16 VR-connected users in Workroom together, while an additional 34 people can join over video call.

“I think it might be the most intense VR application that exists, in terms of how much we’re trying to put every bell and whistle from the headset into the experience you’re using,” Facebook’s top AR/VR executive, Andrew Bosworth, said during a press briefing held via Workrooms.

But with all of these tools being deployed to help connect users who are working from home, the limitations on their ability to actually deliver in-office experiences remotely still hingest on how (and where) workers log on to work.

The truth of the matter is that none of these technologies can be delivered out to remote users if the last-mile (or even last 50 foot) connections linking these users to their larger enterprise network isn’t up to the task.

In a remote work setting, more than 37 percent of users polled in AppNeta’s 20201 Future of the Internet Outlook had to go off of video calls due to freezing or poor audio quality, while 23 percent had to move to a different location altogether (ie. a coffee shop or neighbor’s house) to get work done.

In total, 28 percent of remote users had to update internet-related equipment during the pandemic just to ensure they could access all of their workflows and resources.

This all goes to show that enterprise IT teams need comprehensive visibility into the network paths delivering critical tools to end users in a remote setting to fully understand and troubleshoot potential connectivity issues that could impact productivity. It goes well beyond just ensuring good video on calls; teams need to ensure that any potential roadblocks to productivity can be quickly identified and addressed to limit the ripple effect of bad performance across a distributed network.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: Workrooms, Horizon Workrooms, metaverse, virtual reality, video window, remote tech, office tech, apps, saas, hybrid office, wfa, remote work, hybrid work, work from anywhere, wfh, work from home, virtual reality, vr, ar, facebook

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