Remote working innovations are shaping how business is being conducted in the COVID era.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it wasn’t long until non-essential workers were told to work from their homes and to stay isolated. Here at Springwise, we saw many innovators responding quickly and imaginatively to this new reality for many, offering services such as a personalised remote office space, a way to hold virtual office drinks and even a programme that live-streams a goat into your daily meeting (for a good cause, thankfully).
Many of these remote working innovations, in addition to making remote working more convenient and productive, can also make a potentially dark and isolating experience a little lighter.
Even as lockdown measures ease and companies look for ways to bring employees back into the office, remote working will remain a major part of the equation for many, especially with the hovering prospect of possible second waves of the coronavirus down the road.
With this in mind, here are seven innovations spotted by Springwise that are aiming to help make the working experience not only easier and more professional, but also less lonely and a little more fun.
1. MODULAR HOME OFFICE SETUP ADDS PROFESSIONAL STYLE TO REMOTE PRESENTATIONS
Hamburg-based creative design company, Mutabor, has recently launched a modular home office setup that amounts to a professional upgrade of the remote-working experience. Named “The Branded Home Office,” the concept was crafted to help employees work from home more efficiently amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the system helps present webinars and presentations from home with an elevated and work-appropriate aesthetic.
The concept focuses on providing employers with ways to support their staff with the increasing needs of a home office space, while still respecting the needs of private life. Each Branded Home Office can be individually configured based on the employee’s preferences. There is also the ability to flexibly scale projects with a modular construction kit.
2. ALL-IN-ONE SERVICE FOR SETTING UP A REMOTE WORKFLOW
Startup Firstbase is hoping to capture that market, with an all-in-one solution that lets companies create remote offices at the touch of a button. Firstbase aims to provide remote workers with the tools they need to be safe, comfortable and productive at home. They charge companies a single monthly subscription per employee and handle equipment setup, maintenance, upgrades and repairs, app provisioning and setup, and cross border payments, compliance and security.
The company claims that its service can help companies to save money by spreading the cost of remote setups over a longer period of time. They also handle onboarding for remote operating best practices and help employees claim back tax on energy and internet expenses. They even plan to work on cultivating local remote social networks to connect workers with the community.
3. VIDEO-FIRST, INTERACTIVE PLATFORM CREATES VIRTUAL OFFICES
The startup Remo is aiming to break the boundaries of online business networking with a new platform dedicated to making remote work as visual and human an experience as possible. Remo is a visual top-down view, 2-D map, comprised of interactive “conference rooms” where delegates can interact with each other at various virtual tables, network in live video conversations, exchange contact details and even schedule follow-up meetings at a click.
Each room within Remo’s virtual office can be customised to meet the needs of the user, may it be for setting up a company-wide virtual happy hour or weekly book club meeting, to having a work meeting. Each user also has their own avatar, which they can move from room to room by clicking on the space. By entering a room, they will be able to see, hear and interact with whoever is already in that space in real-time.
4. STARTUP MAKES ZOOM CUSTOMIZABLE AND SHAREABLE
Whenever a new platform becomes successful, companies emerge to build services or products on top of it. Many successful platforms have an entire developer ecosystem riding on their coattails. Companies often encourage this developer community because adds functionality to their platform. As video conferencing company Zoom has soared in popularity during the coronavirus lockdowns, a number of companies have built apps on top of it and one, Grain, has based its entire business around it.
Grain, founded in 2018, captures content in Zoom calls so that users can save it and share it across other platforms, such as Twitter and Slack. For example, a person in a Zoom meeting can record part of the meeting and then share it with someone else on Twitter using a clip that has its own unique URL.
Grain also transcribes content in recordings and can provide closed captions. Users can share video clips of between 30 seconds and 10 minutes in length and can string together clips into “highlight” reels with no time limit. Users can also edit the highlight after it has been recorded, and control who else can edit the video, to prevent people stringing words together out of context.
5. OFFICE DRINKS HELD VIA VIRTUAL REALITY
Like many people around the world, workers at the Amsterdam-based creative agency Achtung! have been working remotely for several weeks now. While workers have been attending meetings via webcam, many have also missed having actual contact with their colleagues. In response, the company have created a virtual reality version of their office and invited all their employees to a drinks party.
The virtual office was built using Mozilla hubs. This is an open-source platform which allows users to share videos and talk to each other in virtual reality. Unlike many VR systems, Mozilla Hubs is accessible from a web browser, as well as being compatible with different VR platforms. It is also relatively easy to use – Achtung! designed its model office in just one week.
All of the company’s 70 employees were invited to use the free VR room, create their own avatars and join a company-wide drinks party. The company hopes that the virtual activities will help keep spirits up and morale high. “Even in this strange time, we think it is extremely important to keep in touch with each other. And not only to discuss the status of projects, but also to have fun, catch up, get inspired and end the week together,” says the company’s creative director, Jasper Janssen.
6. CARDBOARD DESK OFFERS QUICK FIX FOR THOSE NOW WORKING FROM HOME
As tens of millions of quarantined people continue working from home, many are finding it difficult to find space in crowded quarters. People are working from kitchen tables, couches, tucked in corners and under stairs. But some of these ad hoc arrangements can be bad for the back and posture, and lead to joint and nerve problems. Danish furniture start-up Stykka has a solution — a cardboard desk.
The team at Stykka designed the desk in just 24 hours. After Denmark announced a national lock-down, some of the team at Stykka realised they didn’t have enough desk space to work from home. So, they designed the desk in just 24 hours, using only a laser cutter, cardboard and zip ties, and dubbing it the StayTheF***Home Desk. The completed desk measures 120 centimetres wide, 62 centimetres deep and 82 centimetres high and can be assembled in minutes.
The desk can be ordered online, for £75 plus shipping fees, for delivery to select countries in Europe. Alternatively, those with access to cardboard and a laser cutter can download the template and print it out themselves. The desk is made from certified recycled cardboard, so once life returns to normal and people are able to go back to work, the desk can go into the recycling.
7. GOAT-2-MEETING PROGRAMME RAISES MORALE AND MONEY ON ZOOM
With hundreds of millions of people stuck inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, incidences of stress and poor mental health have been increasing rapidly. Now, an animal sanctuary based in Half Moon Bay, California has come up with an initiative to help raise morale. Sweet Farm animal sanctuary has launched a Goat-2-Meeting programme that allows schools, companies and individuals to hold Zoom meetings with some of its 125 animal residents. The programme allows groups to add an animal to their virtual meetings, and already, animals such as Paco the Llama, Brownie the Goat and Gizo the Cow have been remotely brightening up video conferences.
Companies and individual pay fees ranging from a €60 donation for a 20-minute virtual private tour for six people, to around a €90 donation for a 15-minute corporate meeting with unlimited guests. The money raised helps Sweet Farm to support itself during the crisis and pays for free virtual field trips for schools. These can be customised for any number of children and animals. The farm has already had bookings from Fortune 100 companies, major Silicon Valley tech companies and Hollywood movie studios.
30th July 2020