Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp... you’re probably familiar with many of these videoconferencing apps that have gained momentum amid pandemic. However, they’re far from perfect and can even generate frustration, fatigue and disengagement. Are they a completely necessary evil, as the world has switched to remote work? Don’t shrug and sigh, other solutions are starting to take immersion and collaboration to the next level. So let’s dive into virtual worlds—RealChange has first-hand feedback for you.
Remote collaboration is convenient, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Worse, it can threaten workplace engagement as employees feel more and more disconnected from their industry and company culture. This phenomenon has a name—"Zoom fatigue.” Stanford University researchers examined the psychological consequences of spending hours on videoconferencing tools (not just Zoom, several platforms were reviewed) and they stress that current implementations of videoconferencing technologies are exhausting, both physically and mentally.
Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact, seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real time, limited movement in ways that are not natural and a higher-than-usual cognitive load are four primary reasons why video chats fatigue humans.
Yet, videoconferencing tools are essential for day-to-day activities. At RealChange, we use them to help our clients explore new ideas, collaboration opportunities and positive contributions with in-person or virtual trips to the sources of innovation.
Our traditional Learning Expeditions are now virtual, so we needed tools that go beyond basic videoconferencing needs that Zoom and other platforms offer and push the boundaries of interaction. We decided to test several solutions to find the right one for seamless and successful RealChange virtual experiences that are as valuable as in-person Learning Expeditions.
A virtual world is a platform where your avatar moves and interacts with other people—colleagues, customers or suppliers. Virtual worlds were inspired by VR gaming. Whether you choose to use a VR headset as an accessory, virtual reality is gaining traction and several platforms like Spatial, Glue VR, Engage, or Virbela were designed with a focus on remote work and collaboration.
Remote work in an immersive and engaging 3D world is a much different experience than with classic videoconferencing tools—you see people on location, for instance and you can enjoy social interactions that have almost disappeared with traditional remote work tools. Virtual worlds can be used by all organizations, without limit. We identified four situations where it’s worth unlocking virtual reality:
● Day-to-day activities, to facilitate meetings, gatherings, organize team presentations, work on collaborative projects, etc.
● Training, with improved engagement for learners, high school students, students or professionals in an immersive virtual classroom or campus.
● Recruitment activities, to organize job interviews, but also to meet suppliers after a request for proposal submission.
● Special events, to bring conferences, trade shows, product launches, company parties, board meetings or staff meetings to life.
We decided to open our virtual office on Virbela. We wanted to turn this virtual reality solution into a remote collaboration innovation lab where we could meet customers and partners and let innovation and creativity bloom. We’ve been using Virbela for several months now and the benefits are obvious:
● We recreated face-to-face interactions in a virtual environment (talking, moving, etc.).
● We’re able to enjoy serendipity again (for instance, bumping into a co-worker moving around the virtual office or during a meeting).
● We’re working with an intuitive and easy-to-use platform that integrates well with existing tools (Google Meet, Google Docs, etc.).
● We’re unleashing creative thinking—being an avatar at work is a liberating experience.
● We’re using a tool part practical, part just plain fun.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, HTC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Laval Virtual are just a few of the organizations that are now using Virbela. Our experience at RealChange is not only positive but it offers new in-house collaboration opportunities with clients and partners. It is a tool that complements traditional video conferencing platforms for specific, user-friendly, creative and innovative applications. Contact us if you want to try it, we’ll give you a hand to help you collaborate and innovate in a virtual world!