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Coronavirus has made work from home the new normal

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One of the overriding factors that everyone working from home has in common is access to the virtual environment and its ability to make people feel like they are together in the same space, not alone trying to achieve their daily goals and targets. This is undoubtedly a clear win for the environment and better use of time and budgets.  

What’s great news is these virtual environments can be designed for ideal comfort, productivity, and prolonged creativity. So what’s available and how can we embrace change without changing our whole outlook?  

What’s available right now to make things easier? 

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Video Conferencing apps – Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online, with or without video. Zoom users can choose to record sessions, collaborate on projects, and share or annotate on one another’s screens. Free to use for the first 40 minutes and then a monthly fee thereafter. Zoom is a success story that would not have happened five years ago. Technology has moved on in order to support video conferencing generally. 

Google Hangouts and Google Meeting provide a balance for both workers and socializers. It is a little confusing as there are two versions, one for business and one for friends; again free for a limited period and then a monthly fee. Google Hangouts is a unified communications service that allows members to initiate and participate in text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group.   

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Increasingly popular is Slack, which offers a robust and comprehensive chat tool for small businesses. In addition to one-on-one and group chat, Slack comes with individual and team audio calls and video conferencing. Users say Slack also makes collaboration easier than most chat tools. Users can organize multiple projects, teams, and other items using hashtags, as well as share files by dragging and dropping them into the platform or via Google Drive, Dropbox, and other file-sharing services.  

The benefit of virtual reality  

All of the above are currently used to great effect in meetings around the globe but there is something else to consider: virtual reality (VR) offers a strong alternative to video calls, and those that adopt it could well choose to maintain virtual communication as a long-term strategy. One of the overriding factors in favor of VR is that in a typical discussion a lot of information is non-verbal communication; importantly this can be transcribed in VR. Voice tone, hesitations, head, and hand movements greatly improve the understanding of the participants’ emotions and intents. The analysis of these elements of non-verbal communication is pure gold to any business seeking an inside track.

A Man Using Virtual Reality Headsets

What’s more, all distractions are removed and people can be fully focused on what is happening around them. Experts claim that there is a 28% increase in attention span when meeting in virtual reality compared to video conferencing. Furthermore, research suggests we retain more information and can better apply what we have learned after participating in virtual reality. Proving that 3D is a natural communication language overcoming linguistic barriers as well as technical jargon.  

What else can we expect from work from home? 

Working from home can mean exactly that, all work and no downtime. Luckily exercise is one area where group participation is actively encouraged at 

Some of the most interactive and calorie burning games you can play in VR are recommended for off-duty moments.  

Audioshield (modded) is a musical rhythm game in which you block orbs in time with the music. One of its strengths is that it can be easily modified through a simple text settings file. As a result, there are several player-made modifications on the internet that make Audioshield more challenging, and often better exercise. Results are generally 10-13 calories per minute (equivalent to riding a bike). 

BoxVR brings music enhanced boxing-inspired workouts to virtual reality. Leading fitness instructors help us produce a variety of boxing workouts, specifically designed to destroy calories in the most entertaining way ever devised! Results are generally 6-8 calories per minute. 

All these games require a headset, and you should remember to make enough space for your work out. Protect your head from sweat with a wipeable faceplate protector and use wrist straps on your controller in case you get over-excited and drop your equipment. Just like a work out in the gym, remember to cool down effectively and stretch in the normal way to stop the build-up of lactic acid that will make you ache if you don’t follow the advice of a health professional. 

Sadly, there is yet to be an online tool or VR headset that makes the dinner! Although if we remain in lockdown any longer the tech genius will have made an interactive robot to tackle that problem. For now, I will make do with a takeaway and a video call to my teacher buddy. 

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