Changes in workspace design through the increased use of developing virtual workspaces are on the horizon, but they depend on employees actually using them.
This article was originally published by Allwork.Space.
Due to the overwhelming and unstoppable momentum of remote work that has developed over the past two years, virtual workspaces are here to stay and are only slated to expand in population, societal salience, and technological sophistication.
For most of those who have grown accustomed to working remotely, Zoom is the primary method in which workers and employers conduct meetings. However, virtual reality headsets are being adopted gradually, which is changing workspace dynamics and design.
Virtual workspace technology develops in the direction of increasingly better representations of social reality
However, Zoom and virtual reality headsets are only the tip of the iceberg regarding virtual workspaces. The technology behind Zoom, for instance, is nothing new; Skype has been around for nearly two decades and is a basic, two-dimensional way of communicating.
The basic webcam face-to-face interface was a technological development that sprung directly from the telephone, which was an even more rudimentary and two-dimensional communication system.
Virtual reality is another step in a less basic and more three-dimensional way of communicating. The developmental direction of communications technology for workspaces is increasingly sophisticated virtual representations of social reality.
In other words, each new development in communications technology seeks to better represent the social life of human beings to us without being physically located in any such social space. Instead, our physical location remains stagnant, and our social location becomes more digital.
Before companies implement new tech, new norms need to be established
Almost like evolution by natural selection, technological advances are gradually developed and gradually adopted. But, thus far, while virtual workspaces increasingly embrace virtual reality, it is by no means the norm.
Before any far-reaching technological advances (beyond already-existing virtual reality headsets and programs) are widely implemented in the world of work, virtual reality in its current form will likely need to become normalized as a medium of work first.
Part of this will involve making headsets widely available and affordable, and emphasizing their benefits to workspace design and experience.
If employers are interested in adopting virtual reality workspaces, they need to get workers excited about having a genuine office experience without ever having to go to an office. Many will find this idea compelling, but others will find it uncanny and unappealing.
Consequently, if virtual reality headsets are to be normalized, having them just be an option, instead of mandatory, could help those who find VR work and its alterations to their workspace design unappealing assimilate into the future of work.
If there is to be a “first” significant revolutionary change in commonplace workspace design, it will be the normalization and widespread embrace of using virtual reality as a workspace.
New technology down the line will further blur the lines between physical and virtual reality
The peaks of technological development potentially do not exist, and if they do, we’re nowhere near them.
New technological advancements will change workspace design radically. However, the conceivability of what they will be like will vary widely depending on how far into the future we speculate regarding such advancements.
For instance, figures such as Elon Musk believe that, because of a Neuralink brain chip, language will not be needed to communicate anymore — similar to communicating through expressions without words — within our lifetimes.
Musk, in fact, believes that this will occur within five to ten years. Opinions on this matter within the computer science and cognitive science domains vary considerably; radical claims like the “end of language is upon us” need to be taken with a hefty grain of salt.
That skepticism needs to include any assumption that virtual reality workspaces will become the norm. It is not at all clear whether or not it will become as widely adopted as Zoom.
All that is certain now is that a growing number of companies are implementing VR workspaces, so many more workers are beginning to using them.