Living in a
Material Virtual World
This time last year I’d have been sat at my desk in our lovely, converted barn of an office, probably having just raided the snack cupboard and lost my latest battle with our new bean to cup machine. After a chat with the nice people around me about last night’s TV, possibly even a conversation that was work related, I’d have popped over to the real-life water-cooler. Who knew they actually exist outside marketing cliches and sitcoms.
Fast forward a year and here I am at home. But also, in the office with my colleagues. How can that be? Yep, I cloned myself and can now actually be in two places at once. Ok, not exactly, but nearly. When Covid first hit we made the difficult but considered decision to say goodbye to our physical office. As a company that had long since prided itself on the efficiency of our remote work force, we came to the realisation that this new set of circumstances presented us with an opportunity.
The concept of virtual spaces and virtual events had come to our attention as we saw the physical event world take a sudden and painful nosedive with the various restrictions. Whilst we built our own new E:VENT solution to offer many virtual settings and hybrid event scenarios it felt like a very natural next step to invest in our virtual office.
A virtual office, really? It’s a gimmick right? Far from it, this is real, virtually. We set about creating something that now feels like an actual office. We wanted something that would help our people be together more, rebuild some of the sense of community that had dipped with the complete move to home-based working, remove some of the feelings of isolation we knew had developed and give us the opportunity to host our own internal virtual events.
We all have our own avatars, some more reflective of our real selves than others – that’s down to the individual. Not surprisingly mine has taken years off me. One of the most satisfying things, weirdly, is hearing your own footsteps as you move around the office. Don’t ask me why, it just adds to that feeling of being there. And you can run too, way quicker than I ever could in the real world. Great for avoiding those difficult conversations with your boss.
The office itself is modelled much like a physical set up. We have personal offices if we want them, we have hot desks, we have meeting rooms of various shapes and sizes and even areas where people can play games together. Our teams come together for weekly meetings to share content and updates and then find a place to work for the day. This was pretty easy to embed into our rhythm and quickly those off the cuff, unscheduled conversations started to crop up too. This was a turning point for us, and exactly what we had hoped to see. We aren’t abandoning Teams and Zoom, we use those too, they have their time and place. That said, what we have really loved is being able to chat and discuss things without the need to schedule a call – we just take a stroll round the office and say hello. Of course, if you don’t want to be disturbed you can lock your office door. I find that quite effective personally and very satisfying if that annoying colleague is waving and trying to come in.
So there you are, we’ve successfully transitioned into a virtual world. What does the future look like for us? Highly likely it will be hybrid, a mixture of virtual meetings and getting together in the real world when it makes sense. That’s how we see events playing out too. Our offering is designed for just that. We can create and deliver amazing experiences in virtual settings but are also ready to do the same back out in the world we love as soon as we can. So, give us a call if we can help with either option or if you’d like a little more info on how a virtual office could be just what you need.