The recent boom in virtual reality has got me excited for the future, and not just because I finally get to shoot zombies with amazing new levels of immersion.
The internet, and through it, services like Skype or Zoom, have done amazing things to encourage collaboration without borders, but it's never felt 'right'. With the development of virtual workspaces it's not hard to take things a step further and imagine a virtual 'office space' in the future. Why go to work when it can come to you? People from all over the world can be brought to the same place, effectively making businesses independent of location (as it is trending towards anyway). Giving employers access to the best talent in the world, not just the area.
Related: Microsoft Acquires AltspaceVR
Now technically this kind of location independence can already be done, but the psychological effect of being fully immersed into a shared, familiar 3D space would make a huge difference; having a consistent office, rather than 'wherever + laptop', will allow ones mind to build a healthy association with work. And by sharing the space with your colleagues, where you can see their personal influence, what they are working on etc. would give that extra bond to solidify them as a real person, rather than just someone you are collaborating with on the internet.
A Vision of the Future
The year is 2030, robots have taken over the worl- um... The roads are clear of angry commuters and young Billy has just got back from his morning jog. After his shower, he gets into his work attire: comfy bottoms, a t-shirt, and a virtual reality headset.
The startup project he was persuaded into by some friends he met online is going well. So much so that they recently acquired office space on a floating castle. Before he gets to work Billy flies to the waterfall (the office water-cooler let's say) and sees Sam and Aarav. Aarav is talking about a festival happening in his home town, a conversation that couldn't have happened a few years ago when the line between personal life and remote business collaboration was too distinct. A conversation allowing Billy to meet new people, get to know his colleagues, and learn about different cultures. Sensing his time to leave Billy heads towards his work desk, an amazing multi-screen set up powered by cloud computing. However, he sees a sticky-note hand-placed on the corner of his desk: "Come and see me in my office - The Boss".
Amazed that the startup is getting anywhere, considering 'The Boss' has such poor communication skills, Billy makes his way to his boss's office. On his way, Billy appreciates the view: two suns setting over the horizon, and an artificially perfect skyline. Worried about what his boss wants Billy works up the courage to knock on his bosses door. At that very instant he is transported to a tropical beach and sees his boss sitting at the edge in deep focus... "Billy!" he exclaims, "I need your help...". he waves his hand and a 3D model of their product appears.
You get the point.
But what about now?!
I'm always thinking of ways to minimise. At this point, with a bit of hard work and programming, I fully believe it's possible to replace the nomad's laptop with a phone and some virtual reality magic. There are already people attempting to go away with laptops by just using a Bluetooth keyboard on their phone. I've done this myself when travelling, and the only thing holding it back is the screen size.
I hope you enjoy my vision of the virtual start-up. What would your virtual office look like?