Hello, I’m a robot: how technology is changing remote working

Hello, I’m a robot: how technology is changing remote working
3rd March 2017 handh

We’re sure you’ve heard of Siri. Familiar with Sat-Nav. You’ve probably even heard mention of Pokémon Go. But what you probably haven’t heard much about is the ability to transplant your head onto the body of a robot, so that you can literally roll around on wheels.

Okay we’ll admit, we’re exaggerating a bit there. While science hasn’t yet thrust us into the era of Doctor Who-esque Cyberman technology, the latest fusion of robotics and augmented reality has given rise to a new development in the world of work, which allows us to literally ‘become’ robots.

The new telepresence Beam machines – developed by technology firm Suitable Technologies – have given a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘remote working’. The company recruits employees from all across the world, yet none of them actually step foot inside an office. That’s because the new technology allows them to digitally ‘beam’ a live visual feed of themselves onto the ‘head’ of a Beam robot – essentially a TV mounted on stilts and trundling around on wheels!

From the comfort of their own homes, these employees can do all the things regular employees do without actually being there physically. Here’s a solution which brings remote working to the office, reducing employee isolation without encroaching upon the personal freedom it serves to support.

For some people, the thought of interacting with a bunch of pixels on a TV screen on stilts might seem rather strange. But even though it sounds like something from the realms of science-fiction, it’s essentially just Skype on wheels. Many of us use apps like Skype and FaceTime on a regular basis in the workplace, and we’ve been using webcams to communicate since the ancient history of the digital age all the way back in 1994.

Remote working is at its highest level ever, and technology has played a big part in that. Are we getting close to the stage where employees will start to expect remote working to be a standard employment option? Perhaps.

And while we may not all be ready to roll out Beam robots into our workplaces, it’s worth remembering that there is lots of research demonstrating that remote/home working is actually more productive.

One thing’s for sure: the trend towards remote working is likely to maintain its momentum. Giving us lots to think about in terms of how we’ll continue to keep these groups of employees engaged and connected in the future!