AltspaceVR Keeps Teams Together While Practicing Social Distancing
When you can’t meet physically, you can still meet virtually
By Kevin Carbotte
The rapid onset of the Covid-19 virus has dramatically and substantially changed the way we work in teams. People who are accustomed to working together in one location must now figure out how to keep that team momentum going while everyone is working from home. It may seem like a big challenge for many companies, but the reality is that today’s modern technology makes it easy for remote teams to work together just as effectively as in a shared office.
If you follow our CEO Dan Blair on LinkedIn, you may have seen the article that he wrote recently about moving Bit Space Development to a remote workplace. Unlike many companies, BSD was built to be a remote-friendly environment, so switching to a 100% remote setup wasn’t a significant challenge for us. We already use web-based applications that we can access from any computer anywhere, which made the transition a breeze.
We were made for this!
BSD has another significant advantage in this work-from-home reality we all suddenly find ourselves in: We’re a VR development company, which allows us to take remote collaboration to a whole new level. Before we left our office behind to help flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic, we issued everyone on the team a VR headset to take home so we could feel like we’re together for our team meetings.
To ensure that we maintain our comradery and collaborative spirit, we’ve been doing morning standup meetings in virtual reality through an application called AltspaceVR. So far, the results have been fantastic! Though we don’t get to share the same office anymore, at least once a day, we can feel like we’re all together. We’re only one week in, but it’s working great!
What is AltspaceVR?
AltspaceVR is a social VR application. It allows you to participate in group events remotely over the internet. It was meant to be an alternate universe where you could meet new friends and play games or share events. You can attend concerts or comedy shows. Recently, AltspaceVR played host to the Educators in VR conference, where dozens of speakers talked about the immersive technology innovations in modern education.
AltspaceVR wasn’t designed for team meetings, but we’re finding it very useful during this time of crisis. Every AltspaceVR user can host a private virtual room where you can entertain guests. We’re using a private room to host our morning meetings.
Everybody Stand Up!
Every day at 8 AM sharp, the whole team puts on a headset and joins the meeting in Dan’s private AltspaceVR room. We discuss what we accomplished the day before and what we plan to get done that day. We used to do these meetings in person every day and being able to do them in virtual reality has eased our transition to a remote work setting.
Believe it or Not: Virtual Avatars are Recognizable
One of the nice features of AltspaceVR is that you can customize your avatar to fit your personality. There are some strange choices, such as robots and creatures, but you can also create a human avatar and make it look reasonably like you. The character graphics are like cartoons, but AltspaceVR allows enough customization that you can make your avatar look enough like you that people can tell who you are in VR.
It’s Free, and It Supports All headsets
Here at Bit Space, we’ve tested a handful of VR collaboration tools—most of which require a monthly access fee. However, we’ve found that AltspaceVR’s free offering is good enough for our needs. Specifically, we love the no-friction setup process.
AltspaceVR supports almost every VR headset available. It works on all SteamVR headsets, every Oculus headset including all varieties of Rift, the Go, Quest and even Gear VR. And Microsoft owns AltspaceVR, so you can bet that Windows Mixed Reality headsets work too.
AltspaceVR even supports a 2D mode, which you can access from any Windows 10 computer with an internet connection.