Telepresence robots may soon allow companies to create their own work environment from thousands of miles away. One man, engineer Dallas Goecker, already does this.
Goecker attends meetings, roams the office building, and jokes with his colleagues, just like any other employee at his company in California.
The only catch is, Goecker is actually more than 2,300 miles away, working from home in Seymour, Indiana, reports ABC News.
His virtual presence is made possible by a technology called Beam. Beam is mobile video-conferencing machine that Goecker uses to drive around the office in Palo Alto, as well as the workshops of Suitable Technologies. It is a five-foot-tall telepresence robot that is equipped with a large video screen.
It helps both Goecker and his colleagues feel like he’s actually there. He explainedL
“This gives you that casual interaction that you’re used to at work. I’m sitting in my desk area with everybody else. I’m part of their conversations and their socializing.”
Yahoo! News notes that Suitable Technologies, the maker of the Beam, is one of over a dozen companies now offering the telepresence robot technology.
They come as an interesting and good solution to the rise in employees working remotely. While it may be nice to work from home, technologies like the Beam help co-workers continue their one-on-one interaction, which helps provide for better collaboration and camaraderie.
Only a small number of organizations are using the technology right now, however, and it will likely be a while before they go mainstream. They can be expensive, difficult to navigate, and they can sometimes get stuck if they venture into areas with a poor internet connection. Pamela Hinds, co-director of Stanford University’s Center on Work, Technology, & Organization, stated:
“There are still a lot of questions, but I think the potential is really great. I don’t think face-to-face is going away, but the question is, how much face-to-face can be replaced by this technology?”
Would you work from home if you had the benefit of a telepresence robot, allowing you to remain at the office in virtual form while you relax in the comfort of your own home?