The trend towards remote working has been evident now for at least a decade. And with Covid accelerating that trend, more than 40% of Americans now work from home full time.
In a world used to social interaction, this sudden switch has led to many issues. Not least, higher levels of loneliness and boredom, leading to less productive employees, as well the potential mental problems associated with this.
New Technologies Set to Revolutionize Working from Home
Enter the internet of things.
Both large and small tech firms are continually releasing new and exciting ideas to help make working from home more enjoyable. This article talks about ten ideas that will undoubtedly have a remarkable impact on this new remote working trend.
Many boost productivity, while others offer an “escape” and a chance to reignite the social interaction we all now miss.
1. Holographic Meetings
If you work remotely in any team, then there is no doubt that a large part of your job involves team meetings over Zoom, Skype, or other team meeting software. With kitchen backgrounds, or maybe the odd child running into view behind you, it’s not always an ideal setup. Plus, you have to clean up!
Swiss startup Imverse has found a way to revolutionize office meetings by creating real-time holographic versions of everyone in your team! This technology has existed for a few years. Until recently, however, its required the use of expensive and specialized camera equipment.
Not any more.
Imverse has developed technology that enables you to achieve a quality holographic representation of yourself with most modern cameras, even your smartphone. Better still, your holographic self can be located anywhere in the world. Meet on board a floating space station, anyone?
2. Take Your Office on the Road (literally)
You will love this new idea if being stuck in the same location every day doesn’t excite you. Nissan recently unveiled a new concept vehicle with an office built directly into the back.
Pull up to any location, jump in the back, fire up the computer, and get to work! Featuring a comfortable office chair, spacious interior, and even a coffee machine, it’s home to everything you need to work remotely.
How remotely? Well, the promo video is geared towards fully immersing owners in nature. So much so that the back of the vehicle opens up with the platform extending outwards! That’s right; you can work literally IN nature!
And after a long day at the office, why not relax and unwind on top of the van? With a built-in lounger and sunshade, it’s the perfect spot to kick back and unwind from the stress of your computer.
Some of these features are pretty out there, but what an awesome idea! The opportunity to head off-road and work from wherever you want.
There’s no fixed date for when or if Nissan will be releasing this, as it’s still in the concept stages.
3. Meetings in Virtual Reality
Using just Oculus Quest headsets, there’s a fantastic new app called Arthur, which allows entire teams to host entirely virtual meetings! After four years of development and a lot of funding, it’s finally come to market, allowing companies to meet and interact in virtual surroundings.
As of writing, they haven’t yet developed the ability to mimic facial movements. Hence the characters are quite limited in design capability, with everyone wearing glasses and a microphone over the mouth. Still, what an incredible leap forward in remote meetings!
Below the short-sleeved shirts, everyone has pale blue arms that mimic your real-life arm movements. But why have virtual arms? For the virtual cocktail bar, of course! After a boardroom meeting, you can head up to a rooftop bar to enjoy virtual cocktails and some fabulous virtual views.
Up until recently, the cost of using an app like Arthur has been high, with headsets costing well above $1000. But now, Facebook’s new Oculus Quest 2 comes in at a much lower price of $299. And with a $20/month subscription to Arthur, it suddenly becomes a financially viable way to spice up remote meetings and inject more fun into working from home!
4. Futuristic Working Pods
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is finding a space dedicated solely to working. So, if there’s no space for a home office indoors, then a pod might be the best option. Jumping on this trend, and taking things one step further, is a company called Jupe.
The pods they sell are incredibly futuristic, which is unsurprising, as the company is founded by former SpaceX and Tesla employees. Units are 11 square feet and made of lightweight aluminum. You can assemble them yourself and create an interior design perfectly suited to your needs.
However, they do include examples of a queen-sized bed on their official website. Meaning they’re designed to be lived in if necessary! They also come with a desk, WiFi, and a large open porch, allowing you to live and work remotely and also enjoy panoramic views of your chosen location.
They have a full battery and solar set up, so you don’t need to worry about generating electricity, so long as you have plenty of sun, of course! You will have to find your own land, though, as that, unfortunately, is not included.
5. An Office, On-the-Move
Announced back in 2018, the e-Pallet is a revolutionary vehicle concept from Toyota. It is a large, open-spaced container vehicle with full-length windows all down one side. They are in the process of commercializing the project and hope to release them within the next few years.
They’re not designed specifically for remote workers, but they’ve made it clear they’re the perfect size for remote offices accommodating as many as 20 passengers.
It was initially planned that they’d be used to escort athletes throughout the Olympic Village at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Despite being postponed, interest in the vehicles has skyrocketed, so let’s hope these come to market very soon!
If you’re looking for a large remote workspace just for you, this may present a great way to work from almost any location. Or, if you head up a team, it could be the perfect way to hold remote meetings whenever necessary, without the need to hire out or own expensive traditional office space.
6. Fully Driverless Deliveries
One of the most hotly-anticipated developments in the tech world over the last decade is the potential for fully automated vehicles. Several giant tech firms have been pushing initiatives, and California has recently given the go-ahead for a company to make driverless deliveries.
Nuro aims to help people worldwide receive all means of deliveries without ever leaving the house. After recently receiving the correct permits from the DMV, they plan to start shipping products using their range of autonomous Prius cars.
However, their next exciting step will be rolling out what they’ve called the R2. A unique-looking vehicle built for the sole transportation of transporting goods, not people. How does this make working from home better?
You’ll no longer need to make inconvenient trips out to buy your groceries! It will be a few years yet till this receives mass adoption across America, but what a fantastic initiative!
7. Holograms on Your Desk
Holograms have long been one of the world’s most highly anticipated technological developments. Sadly, to date, they haven’t reached any commercial realization. However, a company called The Looking Glass Factory has just changed that, with the release of a glass box capable of containing 3D holograms.
The ability to hold and analyze a 3D image right before your eyes is a significant step forward for creators and artists who can perfect these visual mockups before developing the real thing. Beyond this, it paves the way for 3D holographic video calls! Imagine if you and your colleagues each had one of these on your desks.
You then can host 3D video calls and add a sense of realism that can’t be obtained through VR or AR. To be clear, it isn’t yet possible to do this, but it is clear that’s what’s coming. Just don’t upset your boss; the last thing you need is their head on your desk shouting at you!
8. Next Level Broadband
No matter what industry you work in, there is one essential thing you need to work from home. And that is the internet. And even in highly-developed countries, internet speeds can be annoyingly slow.
Even fiber optic speeds aren’t accessible to all, considerably slowing down working on projects and delivering results on time. Throw into the mix one of the new portable hubs outlined above, and if you want to work in a range of locations, you need reliable coverage no matter what.
Well, perhaps the most exciting development just on the horizon is Elon Musk’s Starlink venture. A collection of thousands of satellites, all positioned in Earth’s low orbit, creating somewhat of a web around the planet.
The idea is that this closely linked collection of satellites can deliver breakneck internet speeds almost everywhere on Earth. Meaning people will be able to work remotely anywhere in the world. Best of all, this isn’t some far-flung fantasy idea that is in its early stages. Hundreds of these satellites have already been sent up, and a test project is well underway in North America.
9. Facebook’s Virtual Office
We spoke earlier about the app Arthur, designed to work with the Oculus VR headset in creating virtual meetings. As Facebook owns Oculus, it seems only natural that they would be looking to expand into markets beyond gaming.
However, they are taking things to a whole other level with Infinite Office. Fast coming to life, it’s a way for people to work with little more than the Oculus set on their head, immersing you in an entirely virtual world.
They are even partnering with Logitech to create keyboards that can be traced and rendered inside the headset. The Oculus comes with its own browser, allowing you to do anything online that you usually would, including searching the internet and responding to emails.
No matter where you are, so long as you have a data connection and charge on the headset, you can get to work. This is a real game-changer for remote workers who love to travel and live in multiple locations throughout the year.
10. AI DJ’s
We’re all familiar with AI through tools like Siri and Alexa, which learn our preferences over time and help to more quickly give us the information we need. Now, a new project from Sensorium and Mubert will allow you access to your very own AI-driven DJ.
The DJ they have developed, named JAI:N, creates and adapts music in real-time, based on the user’s moods. Our music tastes are all unique, and background music is a crucial part of the ritual for most people working from home.
Having raised more than $100 million to fund the initiative, the plan is to create a range of virtual artists, all with unique musical preferences and identities. Performing in the Sensorium Galaxy, they absorb information from their surroundings to ever-change and tweak the flow of music they produce.
JAI:N comes from a company already extremely successful in the world of remote concerts. Their mission is to stave off the increased human loneliness naturally associated with a more isolated lifestyle.
The Future of Working from Home is Here
As working from home becomes a normal part of life for more and more of the global population, these initiatives are set to revolutionize all aspects of a remote lifestyle, allowing you to work more productively while having more fun.
The big challenge these innovations address is staying connected, both with coworkers and the outside world in general.
It’s becoming more important than ever to deal with loneliness or motivation issues that arise from a drastic change of work environment in today’s world. At the very least, it’s exciting to try, not only just these ten innovations but also any others that will no doubt follow in their wake.