The virtual office
Social interaction in the world place that doesn’t require any social distancing.
Video conferencing has taken on all new importance in the past year, but ‘Audi spaces’ takes the concept of virtual meetings to new heights.
25 January, 2021
Working remotely and keeping in touch with team members and business contacts took on a whole new dimension in 2020 with the scent of COVID-19. Remote or online meeting tools such as Zoom and Skype became the norm for staying in touch with ‘the office’ and even those who rarely took part in online meetings embraced the technology and the convenience it brought to the ‘new work place’.
But while these real time, face-to-face communication tools have proved invaluable during the pandemic and will no doubt remain integral to work practices in the future, the physical absence from the work place means a distinct lack of social interaction and all of the benefits it brings to team relations and individual mental well being.
Online meetings can start to feel very impersonal, and participants’ levels of concentration decline over time. So to combat this and also to add another dimension to distance meeting, the Audi Akademie has developed ‘Audi spaces’ and is now launching new software that takes this very issue as its starting point and offers a solution. Interactive 3D worlds in Audi spaces are copies of the real working environment, and create many possibilities for media and social interaction that are a far cry from the simple Zoom meeting online.
Participants can communicate, learn and work with others in real time and in a virtual space by means of their avatar – not quite the same as gathering ‘around the water cooler’ to catch up, but certainly the next best thing and one that requires no social distancing.
The avatars in Audi spaces can make gestures, interact, and talk to one another just as they would in the real world and their surroundings are modelled on actual office spaces to give a more realistic quality to the meetings.
Participants can communicate, learn and work with others in real time and in a virtual space by means of their avatar
The system allows for everything from meetings to planned training courses and the potential to add training scenarios, workshops, coaching sessions
Sabine Maassen, Audi Board Member for Human Resources, says, “With Audi spaces we are using the opportunities presented by digitalisation and providing employees with a tool that supports them in a world of work that is highly dynamic and is becoming more and more complex.”
Participants describe the Audi spaces experience as more relaxed and less tiring than video conferences when they can make arrangements to meet colleagues in a space and interact together. Certainly it’s not the same as getting together in person, but it can contribute to reinforcing the feeling of community.
The system allows for everything from meetings to planned training courses and the potential to add training scenarios, workshops, coaching sessions, and also consultations to be carried out in a way close to reality. Even complex processes and potentially hazardous training procedures can be trained in Audi spaces as often as desired, without the cost or health risk associated with practicing in reality. For example, with Audi spaces Audi employees have the opportunity to learn, virtually and as often as they please, the decommissioning of e-vehicles in a self-teaching scenario.
“Thanks to its integration into our existing IT and media landscape, Audi spaces can be used by all employees worldwide and also by external partners, and can be extended for new target groups in the long term,” says Patrick Zöbisch, project manager for Audi spaces.
“More than 4000 Audi employees now take advantage of the new possibilities for virtual collaboration in some 200 events per month. By doing so, they also contribute to the further development of the tool.”
The possibilities its seems are endless, and the benefits of once again interacting with colleagues – albeit through an avatar – adds another dimension to working remotely. So now, it’s just a matter of ensuring a good looking, well dressed avatar.
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