Five immersive workspaces of the future

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baume
type - big idea
Big Idea
category - society
category - workplace
sector - media & technology
As remote working becomes the norm, discover the platforms pointing to a future of virtual water-cooler moments, CGI networking and digital client dinners

Social engagement: Totem

From Slack to Microsoft Teams – a platform that has expanded from 75m users in April 2020 to 145m in April 2021, according to Microsoft – workplace messaging and collaboration platforms have become an everyday part of employee interactions.

Taking its cues from social media, however, is Totem. This free phone app mimics a micro-social network and is designed to nurture connections and boost company culture between colleagues. Users of the app, which include organisations such as retailer John Lewis and football club Tottenham Hotspur, build a profile about themselves and use community functions to share everything from team achievements to pet photographs and recipes. Instant surveys can be created by employers to get quick-fire views from team members, while real-time insights offer an overview of engagement and morale.

Office-building: Gather

When it comes to virtual meetings or live events, Zoom has become a go-to portal. But the limitations of the platform – plus growing Zoom fatigue among workers – means that, for many companies, a more novel and engaging platform is required. Enter Gather, a collaboration platform that takes cues from video games to replicate the real-life working environments and experiences of businesses and their employees.

Companies can build a lo-fi digital replica of their office layout, breakout zones and meeting rooms, with employees represented by personalised virtual avatars. Navigating Gather, people can host meetings on the platform – complemented by live video or audio calls and whiteboard functionality – as well as company-wide presentations or lectures. Users’ avatars can also ‘bump’ into colleagues in virtual workrooms or linger in common areas to show they are happy for a social exchange or lunchtime catch-up. Looking to the future, Gather’s founders want to create a free, open platform where anyone can build and sell experiences without a centralised brand or host taking a cut of event sales.

Tuning in: Wonder

Browser-based platform Wonder has interaction between users at its core, hosting online gatherings of up to 1,500 people, with notable clients so far including Amazon, Deloitte and Nasa.

Here, people are represented as bubbles displaying their photograph, and use their mouse to move closer to colleagues or other guests virtually. This allows them to tune into live audio conversations, mimicking how people navigate workspace conversations or network in real life, rather than the one-way broadcast format of many current workspace platforms.

While Wonder allows users to feel more actively involved, hosts can limit broadcasts or guests to particular areas, and can define topics and ways of interacting in advance. Among its use cases, Wonder is becoming a tool for recruiters to meet new talent or introduce new starters to teams, while its ‘table’ layout provides a more natural, fluid way for users to move between one another.

Published by:

6 September 2021

Author: Kathryn Bishop, Holly Friend and Peter Maxwell

Image: Nowhere

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Wonder

Cloud connections: DesignBar.io

Undoubtedly, the inability to network professionally and catch up with industry friends and associates has been felt particularly hard by smaller or independent businesses during the pandemic. It’s here that DesignBar.io wants to offer a virtual solution, beginning with the architecture and design industries.

Described as a first-of-its-kind digital social club for small business owners, the cloud-based members’ club seeks to nurture industry relationships and friendships at a global level, with experiences that can be enjoyed together online via a series of 3D luxury virtual venues. Once a member or company has signed up, they can create a profile, join conversations and socialise through live-stream performances or by hosting their own event. Guests can even indulge in digital dining, where people connect online through DesignBar while enjoying a real-life breakfast or dinner provided by leading local chefs.

Immaterial immersion: Nowhere

Immersing users in unique online worlds, Nowhere builds on the face-to-face interaction offered by Wonder and Gather with a highly customisable, sci-fi inspired experience for workplace events or marketing.

Accessible via web browsers, Nowhere places guests in a 3D world that can be customised with different zones, backdrops and features. Working with visual effects and experience designers, the platform’s navigation and spatial audio make it highly immersive and suitable for live-streaming of content, performances or virtual networking. 'We’re starting to collaborate with outside artists to build beautiful worlds and in the future everyone will be able to build their own extraordinary environments,' Jon Morris, CEO of Nowhere, tells LS:N Global.

‘Design is paramount for us. It’s important that the environments in Nowhere feel great to be in and support [what’s] taking place’
Jon Morris, CEO, Nowhere
 
 

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