It is a truth universally acknowledged that all sci-fi stories stem from hope of reality. From Star Wars to Ender’s Game, writers have been enchanting readers and viewers with what we could only hope was the not too distant future.
With the release of Ready Player One, the idea of living in a wholly emerged VR reality might not be that far-fetched. With the increase of remote work and more advanced VR systems, the idea seems entirely possible. And not just possible but probable. Something the new generation of workers are craving.
Forbes notes that 43% of Americans are already working remotely and more will follow. People are more accepting of remote work and how it can benefit everyone. That’s thanks to better attitudes towards work and personal life. A surge of desire for remote work has even hit Washington. A national initiative called 1 Million for Work Flexibility has been created. Advocating for more companies to adopt work flexibility.
BeHere points out that “By offering flexible working, companies help employees to balance their work and personal life in a better way. This has a very positive impact on employee satisfaction and retention.”
With remote work becoming more prevalent, is it possible a more VR type of lifestyle would soon follow? Who’s to say. For fictional character Wade Watts, it was his entire life. People worked, shopped and lived in this virtual world. So is that where we’re headed?
Remote Worker Surge
In our article Are Remote Workers Still the Future? Author Matt Milano makes the cheerful observation that “While some companies have opted to go in the opposite direction, squarely back to the 20th century, the future of the remote workforce has never looked brighter.” And he’d be correct. According to a study done by Leadership IQ, 87% of employees polled would love their job more if they worked remotely. Not put up with more or halfheartedly liked but love. “It’s clear from the chart that people who work remote (whether telecommuting or being mobile) are significantly more likely to love their job.” And with that love comes a desire to do better and to be better for their company.
So is it making a pathway for VR to become the next mode of remote work? The tech giants seem to think so. Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt stated,“virtual reality will soon be commonplace in the workforce and in schools.” HTC, Microsoft, Samsung, and Google have all jumped on the VR train. Following Facebook’s $1.6 billion buyouts of popular VR company Oculus Rift. A move they hope results in avatars being created in their social app.
By 2020 millennials will represent the most significant part of the workforce. And what are they looking for? Companies that surround their employees with the latest technology. A study done by Penn Schoen Berland polled 3,800 employees around the globe. “58% of global millennial workers prefer high tech in-office perks, such as VR and AR, as opposed to traditional free snacks and ping pong tables.” (Not the ping pong tables!)
Next Stop: Virtual Reality
Now that remote work has more or less become the cool kid in class; people are starting to address one of the biggest drawbacks of working remote. Not being in the office. We can do without the commute, and the noisy co-workers and did we say commute? But there’s no getting around the fact that there are benefits from being in an office setting. That’s where VR technology comes in. VRFocus believes that “Workers could immerse themselves in a simulated workspace where they would have the opportunity to interact with coworkers in meaningful — albeit virtual — ways.” Like Wade Watts, workers would be able to create their avatars. And then take part in board meetings, creative powwows or even the traditional water cooler chat. Companies like AltspaceVR are already working such a platform. Avatars created from anybody in the world can interact with each other and mimic the body language of the user. It’s still in its beta stage. And apparently, the only choice of avatar you have is one that looks startling like EVE from Wall-E.
Already large companies are benefiting from the technology. And the disruptions that VR brings to the workspace are still in their infancy. For example, “virtual reality has been used by NASA to simulate the experience of being on Mars. It has also enabled researchers to identify previously unseen relationships between objects found at a temple site in Petra, Jordan. And by a neurosurgeon to navigate a patient’s brain before surgery.” Being able to set foot in a virtual office will seem like child’s play after that.
Coming from a similar article, we ask the question “Is it possible – with today’s technology – to strap on a funny-looking helmet and go from being in an Italian veranda in a quiet Mediterranean town, to the designer-crafted office of a big North-American company?” And so far it looks like the answer is: Why yes. Yes, it is. Read the full article about VR headsets here.
VR is on the rise, and the possibility of teleportation is (virtually) around the corner. It can seem like large and small businesses won’t be able to keep up. The fast-moving advances in technology seem too quick to keep up with. And while that might feel true, the most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind and be open to change. It’s almost guaranteed we won’t be going from fighting the 9-5 traffic to navigating flying cars in the next year, (or will we?). But change is coming, and the best way to manage a business is to learn about it and adopt it. And who knows? By having remote workers on your team, they might be the ones keeping you abreast with all the new changes in technology. After all, they’re the ones that would be most affected. In our article entitled It’s a Trap! (or what Sci-Fi can teach us about remote working) author Sarah Dixon points out that “it’s also healthy to have a culture where anyone feels they can speak up.”
The Muse states “With so many companies experimenting with this technology, it won’t be long before virtual reality is a reality in jobs of all kinds.” The desire for VR technology to benefit consumers and businesses is there. And well on it’s way to becoming our new reality. But, if you’re still struggling with the idea of even employing remote workers, we have you covered. Check out our remote worker 101 article here. If you have any questions, DistantJob is happy to answer them by contacting us from our contact page.
Thanks to movies like Ready Player One, the futuristic world that these characters live in inspires us. Showing us how we can improve our daily and professional lives. And while virtual reality may seem far off, as Christopher Mims from The Wall Street Journal said, “I have experienced the future of remote work, and it feels a lot like teleportation.” Looks like we’re in for a wild ride.