Australian IT professionals want to start using virtual reality (VR) headsets for meetings as they settle into the new normal of hybrid work.
Only a handful of Australian IT professionals (15 per cent) surveyed for software company Ivanti's Everywhere Workplace Report 2022 said they wouldn’t want VR headsets to replace some or all of their regular video conferencing technology.
More than 70 per cent said they were keen on putting on a headset to meet in the metaverse for some or all of their work meetings.
Ivanti’s regional VP Matthew Lowe told Information Age he wasn’t surprised by the results and expected organisations to start moving in the VR direction soon.
“Technology always moves on quite quickly,” he said. “But the biggest challenge we’ll face, especially as leaders of IT departments, is how we manage the onboarding of these devices to keep them secure and locked down.”
Facebook (now called Meta) is pushing to have workplaces adopt its VR headsets for workplace meetings, spinning up its Workrooms product as a supposedly viable alternative to Teams and Zoom.
But the company’s VP of Global Affairs famously called the Meta Quest a “wretched headset” that is “too bulky” to drink coffee in during a Workrooms interview with the Financial Times late last year.
Other hardware companies are exploring ways to innovate the video call, including Cisco which has unveiled its Webex Hologram augmented reality device that is designed to bridge the “gap between virtual and in-person collaboration”.
As Lowe told Information Age, however, there may be some reluctance to add complexity to workplace technology that already involves sending everyone home with a laptop and other remote work peripherals.
“One of the big challenges for IT teams is to adapt and adopt,” he said. “Mobility is that challenge right now, and it’s a worldwide problem people are trying to stay on top of.
“We’ve got people accessing work services through web browsers, they’re using the same insecure passwords through consumer applications as they do for work, so it can be especially hard to keep all these devices secure.”
Regardless of what technology is being used, remote work is definitely here to stay.
Of the Australian IT professionals Ivanti surveyed, 70 per cent said they would rather be able to work from anywhere than get a promotions – a sentiment shared by counterparts around the world.
When it comes to reasons why they like hybrid work, Aussie IT workers gave the answers you might expect: improved work-life balance, time saved by not commuting, and having a flexible work schedule.
More than 73 per cent of local workers said remote working during the pandemic impacted their morale positively – no doubt in part because 64 per cent of them had taken up the option of a sea or tree change with the newly afforded freedom to work remotely.
We’ve seen examples of digital nomads like software developer Geoff Huntley who started working remotely from a van he drives around the country.
Employers around the world are now trying to adjust expectations about how returning to the office will look. US investment bank Goldman Sachs demanded employees return to the office full-time – but only half showed up.
And Meta has cut benefits given to its office staff, getting rid of the company’s free laundry service and delaying daily free meals by half an hour.