Transforming Team Collaboration: Co-located Meetings with Spatial Computing

In the evolving landscape of work, enterprises and employees are increasingly torn between remote, hybrid, and co-located teams. Traditionally, each of those work models comes with its advantages and downsides. Co-located teams are great for in-person collaboration, but it does not offer employees the workplace flexibility they increasingly desire after the huge work-from-home experiment that happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote team model offers employees the workplace flexibility they want, but without in-person face-to-face meetings, team cohesion and collaboration can suffer. Hybrid team model offers a balance by providing some degree of flexibility while also enabling some face-to-face time, but teams can find it confusing to navigate and can struggle with maintaining productivity when part of the team is in the office and part of the team is remote. As the team members switch between working from office and remotely from home, what makes the confusion worse is when a different combination of individuals is present in-office on different days. It is no surprise that all this confusion is taking a toll on collaboration.

A Gallup poll in 2022 showcased that at least 30% of the participants were worried about decreased collaboration in a hybrid work setup. Some teams are trying to solve the challenge by having in-office days when the whole team is present in the office and prioritizes collaboration. However, considering the importance of cross-team collaboration and taking into account a broader view of collaboration as a continuous process over time rather than a series of unconnected events like meetings, a technology-based solution that enables teams to collaborate independent of their work location can be critical in enabling more effective collaboration.

Since the past few years, Virtual Reality (VR) has offered enterprises the ability to bridge the gap between remote work and in-office work. Collaboration platforms like Arthur have enabled in-person collaboration from anywhere in VR-based virtual office spaces with lifelike avatars. As the mixed reality hardware for workplace collaboration comes of age with headsets such as Meta Quest 3, there are increasing opportunities for innovation to bridge the gap further and enable hybrid workplace collaboration irrespective of how distributed a team is and where an employee chooses to work from on any particular day. An innovative functionality that promises to redefine collaborative meetings is our newly launched co-located meeting mode. This groundbreaking feature builds on the unique capabilities of extended reality (XR) by enabling co-located participants to seamlessly leverage their physical meeting space in combination with their virtual office spaces in VR.

Co-located meetings and XR

A co-located meeting traditionally refers to a gathering where participants are in the same physical location such as a conference room in a physical office. In a hybrid work setting, when part of the team is co-located and part of the team remote, it can be challenging for the team to collaborate. Our co-located meeting functionality allows co-located team members to leverage the benefits of both their physical location and their virtual office space seamlessly while also integrating the remote participants as if they were physically present. This meeting functionality caters to the needs of modern enterprises that have teams operating across the spectrum of hybrid work ranging from largely remote to largely co-located. Furthermore, even the fully co-located teams can benefit from this functionality.

Benefits for co-located teams

The traditional co-located setup offers advantages, including familiarity, spontaneous communication, and the strengthening of interpersonal relationships. However, the advent of digital transformation and the shift towards more flexible working arrangements have challenged these teams to find innovative ways to maintain their productivity and cohesion. VR can be a pivotal tool for co-located teams, helping them bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms. The Arthur platform with the newly added co-located meeting functionality enriches the co-located team experience by integrating virtual elements such as virtual office spaces and virtual productivity tools to expand their collaborative potential beyond the confines of their physical space. The co-located meeting functionality eliminates common challenges to the use of VR by a group of people in the same physical space. With this functionality, there are no audio duplication issues and need for avatars within a co-located group which facilitates a natural and immersive meeting experience when the participants are co-located and seeing the physical room is beneficial for the meeting. Participants can interact with both virtual objects and each other within their actual physical environment, enriching their collaboration and creativity.

Benefits for hybrid and fully distributed workforces

For hybrid teams or a distributed workforce, the co-located meeting mode offers a unique solution. When part of the team is co-located, they can initiate a meeting in this mode, invite remote members to join seamlessly, and collaborate normally while also benefiting from their physical meeting setting. This functionality allows hybrid and distributed teams to seamlessly continue benefiting from their virtual meeting rooms and the body of work within those rooms even when a part of the team chooses/happens to meet co-located.

A vision for the future of meetings

Christoph Fleischmann, Founder and CEO of Arthur, envisions this innovation as  a transformative step in how meetings are conducted. He highlights, "The co-located meeting functionality is not just an enhancement of our virtual office platform; it's an opportunity to reimagine team collaboration for the better. By bridging the virtual with the physical, we're enabling teams to collaborate in ways that were previously unimaginable."

As enterprises continue to navigate the complexities of modern work arrangements, the introduction of co-located meetings represents a significant step forward in enabling better collaboration independent of employee location. This functionality not only accommodates the diverse needs of today's workforce but also sets a new standard for what collaborative meetings can achieve. By harnessing the power of XR, teams can transcend traditional limitations on collaboration and productivity while fostering a culture of innovation and inclusivity that is vital for the workplace of the future.

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