22 May SeeSaw’s Virtual Office
SeeSaw Labs is a 100% remote team, meaning its employees and contractors are distributed around the globe. It’s what allows us to find and hire the brightest minds, regardless of their geographic locations. However, obtaining bright minds is only a fraction of what it takes to run a successful company with a fully remote team. Minds must be connected to bring about their full potential and effectiveness. How is this achieved?
– Scheduling? – Easy. Google Calendar!
– Formal communication? – Phone and Email, tried and true!
– Instant messaging? – Slack, Hipchat, Skype, Google Hangouts, IRC, etc.
– File sharing? – Dropbox, Google Drive, shipping hard drives via UPS1
Why do software companies bother renting office space at all if these tools are available? Clearly there must be some element missing from this list, or we’d be seeing a lot more realtor signs downtown. We at SeeSaw argue that modern communication tools are brilliant at connecting computers, but fail miserably at connecting _humans_. If you’ve ever been a member of a conference call, you know this pain. If you’ve ever group video chatted with a room full of six people, you know this pain. If you’ve ever been sent a document to ponder in-meeting and wished you could scribble a note in the margin, you know this pain.
There is a staggering amount of silicon between your mind and your associates’ minds in a remote context. Funneling human nature into a microphone is analogous to breathing through a straw; you’ll survive, but the act can hardly be classified as enjoyable. We aim to combat this problem by leveraging cutting edge VR technology to create one of the first virtual offices.
For our first experimentation in networked VR, we built an open structure where we could demo some basic object manipulation. While we loaded our heads and hands in as simple cubes, it was a bit shocking how much life motion tracked objects have (we were actually able to scare each other and share a laugh by teleporting, hiding, and then jumping out from behind cover). To test networked object manipulation we loaded in more cubes which could be picked up, thrown and caught. This task is especially challenging as it involves the real-time networked position and ownership handoff of the objects.
With our virtual office, your conference call is now a brick-and-mortar2 meeting place, your six person room just became a seven person room, and I now have the ability to physically hand you that TPS report that you’ve been nagging me about. Go ahead, make some comments in the margin with your virtual pen, see if I care.
1 We know you’re out there somewhere…and we feel for ya.
2 “vertex-and-texture” meeting place is maybe more accurate, but doesn’t carry nearly the same ring.