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Is virtual reality the future of remote work?

Work from home in virtual reality? It's possible.png
Posted at 1:03 PM, Dec 16, 2022

How many of us now consider Zoom meetings a normal part of our everyday lives as more of us work remotely?

According to an estimation by the career website Ladders, 25% of all professional jobs in North America are remote. Many times that includes using video conferencing websites to collaborate, but some companies are taking it a step further and utilizing the power of virtual reality to conduct their work.

In 2018, VR revenue from businesses was $829 million according to Metaverse research company ARtillery Intelligence. Next year, that number is expected to grow to $4.26 billion, and by the year 2030, 23.5 million jobs worldwide are expected to VR and augmented reality in their daily work.

“For us, we’ve had two years of nothing but exponential growth,” said Christoph Fleischmann, CEO of Arthur, a company that has developed VR technology for companies to use. "You almost can’t find a Fortune 500 company anymore that doesn’t have a dedicated [extended reality] team. So, it’s probably around 95, 98% of these companies have an XR team, but if you compare this to three years ago it’s a huge difference.”

Fleischmann founded Arthur in 2016 when the headsets used to enter the virtual world were not so compact and easy to use. Now, his company is pouring resources into making it even friendlier to the uninitiated.

Every Friday, Arthur has its 60-person workforce file into a virtual auditorium for team meetings. Users can raise their hands, manipulate documents, and interact with one another as if they are in person. When you think about other use cases for spaces like this, classrooms, Ted Talks, and even conferences, the future can sound pretty exciting.

“It’s really fun because you already know where people are sitting and then they raise their hands, and it has this dynamic that you really only know from physical offices,” said Fleischmann.

Through video conferencing, you might share your screen, but in VR, you can pull up and manipulate documents with your hands so everyone can see it in ways you might not be able to over a computer.

“There’s something going on in our minds that is telling us, ‘Hey, you’re present here and even though we have these avatars and not everything is photo-realistic yet, there is this power of the medium itself,’” he said

Now, there are concerns about this technology. What is the practicality of buying these headsets for hundreds, if not thousands of employees? What is the cost? How do we keep users from becoming addicted to the virtual world?

Fleischmann thinks those will be addressed as we learn more about this medium.