Our top innovations from the past year aiming to replicate the best of the in-office experience, optimise productivity and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
It has been an unprecedented and strange year for the working world — with many of us spending large chunks of it working from home. Who would have thought we’d ever miss those long commutes and early morning starts? The hubbub of an office and those daily interactions with colleagues are difficult to replicate at home.
But it seems the remote working experience is something we will need to accept as part of “the new normal.” The percentage of workers globally that will permanently work from home in 2021 is expected to double, based on a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR).
Springwise has spent much of the past year tracking the many remote working innovations coming out of the coronavirus pandemic aiming to bring the best of the in-office experience into the home, optimise productivity and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Here, we’ve curated our top seven remote working innovations from 2020.
1. CARDBOARD DESK OFFERS QUICK FIX FOR THOSE NOW WORKING FROM HOME
The team at Stykka designed this 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 and delivers to the UK and 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.
2. VIDEO-FIRST, INTERACTIVE PLATFORM CREATES VIRTUAL OFFICES
The startup Remo is aiming to break the boundaries of online business networking with a platform dedicated to making remote working 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.
3. TELEPRESENCE ROBOTS ENHANCE REMOTE WORKING AND CUT CARBON EMISSIONS
Being a digital nomad has never been easier. And now Blue Ocean Robotics’ GoBe Robots are making online connections more personable. When workplaces moved out of the office and into the home, many people have struggled with the lack of human connection in their professional lives. The GoBe Robots reproduce each user’s face in real size on the screen, eliminating the disembodied look and feel of both giant conference room screens and tiny tiled squares of group video calls.
Users control the camera and movement of the robot. The front-facing, wide-angle camera zooms in up to four times in size, allowing the remote person to get involved in detailed on-site work. The mounted screen allows users to move their robot presence as needed, opening up opportunities for remote trade show visits, healthcare appointments and educational interactions. The company is also touting the environmental benefits of GoBe Robots, as they reduce the need to travel.
4. MULTIFUNCTIONAL ‘BOX OFFICE’ HELPS SEPARATE WORK AND HOME LIFE
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on and working from home remains the norm for many, studies show that employees are finding it more and more draining to work from home, without any privacy or quiet.
The “Box Office”, created by industrial designers at the University of the Philippines, mimics the “office cubicle”, providing a private and secluded space within the home, and thus helping to separate working space from home space. It can be adjusted into three main configurations: a wall desk or shelf that comes with or without partitions, which can be adjusted to two different heights; a “Work Tray” that comes with or without partitions; and “Tall Mode”, which is similar to a floor table or desk.
The Box Office is also environmentally-friendly, with the desk made of bamboo plywood and the partition made from wood-skin mesh, which allows the cloth hinges to bend and fold. The magnets that keep the hinges in place make the design intuitive, and it comes in multiple colours. There is also a power strip and a charging outlet on the right side.
5. PROFESSIONAL STYLING FROM THE WAIST UP FOR ZOOM MEETINGS
With people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become normal to wear something business-suitable on top, and casual beneath the camera. Sisters Vicky and Nikoleta Lirantonakis, based in Salem, took this as a new business opportunity and are offering professional styling from the waist up. The sisters had to shut down their dress rental business in March with the initial wave of the virus and have pivoted their business into a Zoom appropriate product — The Style Fílos.
With the aim of being a Zoom fashion companion, The Style Fílos offers customers a pre-styled box with three curated or three chosen accessories. The accessories include earrings, makeup, scarves that also double as masks, headbands and necklaces. The Lirantonakis sisters’ passion for styling their clients for events that are going on in their lives inspired the idea, and the one consistent thing in everyone’s life recently has been Zoom calls.
6. 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.
7. OFFICE DRINKS HELD VIA VIRTUAL REALITY
Like many people around the world, workers at the Amsterdam-based creative agency Achtung! are working remotely. 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 drinks parties.
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.
Written By: Holly Hamilton
11th November 2020