Wednesday, 25 July 2018 08:24

A discussion on how virtual reality will impact the workplaces of the future

    In recent years, the availability of virtual and augmented reality technology has increased hugely and rapidly. And, although it may seem strange and unlikely, it’s still somewhat understandable that it’s now starting to creep into the workplace; saying that in some ways it’s already had an impact.

    Video calls that span time zones may seem mundane now, but if you think about it, even they have an element of augmented reality about them; after all, you’re seeing an environment in front of you that isn’t actually there.

    Taking this into consideration, it was only a matter of time before virtual reality took over the reins and began integrating itself into the workplace. Despite still being quite a niche approach, headsets are being used in place of a traditional computer. The headset enables the user to utilise all the space around them in the digital world so that they can see multiple screens at once – and adjust them as per their own preference. It therefore means that each employee can tailor their own virtual space to reflect how they work best.

    Steve Bays, Managing Director and Head of Product Design at Century Office, comments: “It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make an office more ergonomic and productive. It is all about knowing your office and how the teams and departments work and responding to their needs; it is equally important to employ a designer that understands your needs and works well with your requirement as well as ensuring that the furniture supports technological developments and everyday needs.”

    A spokesperson from KI Europe comments: “Today’s workplace looks and ‘works’ dramatically different than it did 20 years ago or even a decade ago thanks chiefly to technology. Working remotely, teleconferencing and co-working and collaborative spaces, once a distance dream, is now the business norm.

    “These workplace transformations are being fuelled by high-tech, fast growth companies, along with a younger generation that demands technology tools to allow them to work anytime, anywhere, 24/7 as efficiently as possible. The ability to collaborate with partners will follow the trend from voice conferencing, to video chat, to telepresence, to virtual reality. In fact, VR headsets will allow the wearer to engage with digital content and interact with holograms.”

    Tony Antoniou of Rainbow comments: “For a client to be able to walk through their new office and have a full view around the space is fantastic. Personally, I feel that the jump from 2D CAD files to 3D images, floorplans and fly-throughs was more significant than the jump from 3D design to virtual reality. “When we worked on the Met Office’s new HQ way back in 2003 we were able to fly them around the office mock-up and it helped the various groups of people viewing it to understand what their new office space would look like.

    “The 3D services we provide are extremely useful in helping the facility managers to show the plans to individuals and groups within their organisation who are not used to working with 2D floorplans; and as soon as they see the images, they can understand and appreciate what their new workplace will look like. “With our current 3D services, users can select colours and finishes with ease in order to get their design just right prior to placing orders. This is brilliant for us because it means we know that they will like it once everything is installed.

    “Virtual reality will, of course, take this one step further and it would be great to feel as though you are actually walking around your new space. However, this may be cost prohibitive and I am not convinced that companies will pay for this service over what is currently available, but as costs come down, this option will become more feasible.”

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