The Hej device aims to combat the loneliness of working from home by visualising your colleagues and replicating the general office atmosphere
Spotted: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of working from home seemed clear: safety, comfort, no long commutes, and money saved. However, as the year went on, many began to miss the feeling of being in a shared space with co-workers, and the ability to benefit from the motivation and energy a collective environment can offer.
The two students from the Umeå Institute of Design wanted to replicate the feeling of being around and interacting with colleagues. Made in collaboration with software company Logitech, the Hej device can be set up wherever you work and connects to the other devices of those on your team. An in-built motion sensor then catches your movements and theirs, before translating it into an unobtrusive visualisation of your colleagues. This visualisation can be interacted with in ways such as waving or signalling, as well as conversation, which is enabled through the speaker and microphone that come as part of the device.
If you need to work in silence for a time, Hej can also be put in “Focus mode”, simply by being knocked over. Should you want to actually talk to your colleague’s real face, Hej’s interactive surface can also be used to start a video call.
The driving force behind Hej is to enable the type of office interaction that is vital for team solidarity and spirit, which might have been neglected during this period of solitude. With its simple and inviting design, Hej also aims to encourage healthy work habits, such as working hours: when you wave hello and goodbye to your colleagues, you give structure to the beginning and end of your day, a habit that is often lost as conventional hours become blurred when working remotely.
Moreover, Hej is made to be presented to the employee by the employer, for there is a benefit for both: with healthier, happier and more sociable employees, comes greater efficiency and motivation for the business.
Written By: Holly Hamilton