Spot virtual workplace creators on the future of work

Emerging technologies, including Microsoft’s Mesh and Facebook’s Horizon Workroom, hint at how augmented reality could become part of the hybrid workplace of the future. I caught up with Gordon Hampton and Wes Hather, co-founders of the augmented reality/metaverse communications platform Spot, about how they envision the future of work.

Most people will not be on the cutting edge

What’s important with Spot’s solution is that while it’s clearly built to surf the emerging AR/VR wave, it works using current technology. “We strongly believe that the future of work will not be based on text and video-tiles,” they say.

The founders don’t think AR and VR will become mainstream technology for a decade. They believe that equipment used in new workplaces must “meet the lowest common denominator.” That’s why Spot will work in a web browser.

Of course, the denominator that defines it is also changing. Increasingly, Macs seem to be carving out a huge place in the future of work.

The introduction of the M-series processor has raised the profile of the business platform. “Because our product is pushing the envelope on what’s possible inside web browsers, we’ve really looked at what these processors are capable of and the difference they make compared to other processors,” Hampton said.

“I’ve been regularly upgrading my computer every 1-2 years for the past 20 years, and the jump from Intel to the M1 was probably the first time I felt Moore’s Law so dramatically — it made a huge difference in speed. Advances like this are really driving the future of work forward,” he said.

What does the spot do?

Spot provides both chat and video conferencing and allows companies to create digital offices where work can be done. At work, you explore an interactive office space where you can interact with colleagues and find them visually in the abstract office space.

In practice, teams use virtual avatars within virtual branded offices. Team members can see each other, see who is meeting with whom, and simply walk up to each other and have a conversation.

I see the platform as similar to Teamflow or Walkabout, but Spot’s founders say their solution is already fully 3D, immersive, and offers a rich enterprise-grade communication tool, tailored for those already familiar with Slack or Teams. . Some big names in tech (including potentially Google, Apple and Uber) are already using Spot in some way, they say.

Well they could do so. Futurist Bernard Marr sees huge opportunities for AR in the evolution of work, virtual meetings, 3D holographic presentations, exhibitions – even the use of digital twins to give customers the chance to try products before they buy.

“A lot of people are waiting for hyped-up technologies like AR/VR etc. to change that, but we believe the right technologies already exist and just aren’t being used properly in work contexts,” Hampton and Heather explained. “Younger generations are already communicating in meaningful ways and creating deeper connections through alternative platforms like gaming.”

Connections are important

Spot’s founders believe in the value of social relationships, arguing that without such a sense of connection, it becomes harder to build trust and harder to nurture engagement.

“I’ve heard from a few users that they have some kind of stage fright when doing video conferencing, and by having an avatar, Spot makes them feel much more comfortable contributing to the conversation,” Hampton said.

The most successful customers are those who use these solutions in an always-on fashion, they told me. Team members stay inside the application throughout the day and use it as their primary means of communication, both for meetings and asynchronous team chats.

“It helps a lot to make teams feel together and gives a sense of presence… you can look out from your desk and see your colleagues working and having meetings,” they say.

Where are we going?

The future of work is not just a technological challenge, but an evolution of management styles. Managers are forced to adopt new approaches to managing remote teams, and presenteeism is gradually being replaced by compassionate management built around clearly defined and articulated goals.

“Being a manager becomes much more difficult for those who suddenly have to move to a remote environment,” say Hampton and Heather, adding that the use of this type of virtual environment can help managers “be much more intentional about the content of their regular meetings.” “

While those in the U.S. tend to be early adopters of AR/VR technology, Spot’s leaders told me they’re seeing much more mainstream adoption in economies that are already seen as the most digital, primarily South Korea. “We believe these companies are at the forefront of where things are going,” they said.

Does your company use virtual collaborative environments? Are your business managers getting the support they need to successfully manage hybrid, asynchronous teams? What have you learned about the future of work from the pandemic? Let me understand.

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