New startup mimics in-person office with ‘virtual floor plans’

Remote working may be here to stay, but employees lack the connection and collaboration that comes from the physical workplace. A new business allows you to connect with colleagues without relying on Zoom or Slack.

TeamFlow has launched a virtual office platform that uses a spatial interface to bring employees together in a video bubble. Employers can create a virtual floor plan of their office space and move around in their pod. They can resume conversations and communicate more easily, mimicking the feeling of walking around a physical workplace.

“People, and especially new hires, are afraid to contact co-workers on Slack just to schedule a Zoom call to introduce themselves,” says Rafael Sanches, co-founder of Anycart, which uses the platform. “On Teamflow, you see someone’s face right next to you and it’s very easy to say hello. For some of our employees, it wasn’t until we started using Teamflow that they first met some of their teammates.

TeamFlow Virtual Floor Plan

While remote working has become normal for employees, the lack of in-person collaboration has been detrimental. A survey by Buffer, a social media software platform, found that 20% of employees rated collaboration and communication as the biggest struggle during the pandemic. Twenty percent of employees said loneliness was a big challenge when away from home.

Read more: Culture and Transparency Decided on Glassdoor’s “Best Workplaces” winners

This lack of collaboration impacts interpersonal relationships between employees and their managers: Paychex has found that more than half of managers believe that their relationships with their teams have deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

Read more: Relations between managers and employees are strained – COVID is to blame

Employers are trying to find a way to maintain a resilient and productive workforce as remote work extends through 2021. Thirty-five percent of workplaces do not have a firm plan to reopen their office completely, while 16% hope to reopen in the first quarter, according to a Conference Board survey.

“This crisis will accelerate flexible working. Now we have the ability to work anywhere, ”said Bryan Murphy, CEO of Breather, a provider of private workspaces. “Humans are social creatures and no one wants to be locked up alone every day, all day, without seeing others. There is the social aspect of work that people lack – they lack collaboration.

Its platform helps employees establish a hybrid model of working in person and at home. Users can book a room, just like they would with an Uber, says Murphy. Rooms can be booked from one hour to several months.

Read more: Afraid of going back to work? A private office space may be a safer alternative

“People use them just to have a quiet time away from their families when they need to be really productive or to make a customer call, or even in-person meetings where maybe the office is closed but they still have to. meet, “says Murphy.

As companies contemplate their return to work plans, offering a variety of options will help employees feel that they are still part of a vibrant and dynamic company culture. Whether in person or remotely, maintaining employee morale must be the top priority.

“Businesses are rethinking the role of real estate – we like to think of real estate as a place to come together and collaborate and get to know each other and share stories, so I expect to have more of that, but less of that. people sitting in endless rows of cubicles, ”says Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, an employee experience software company. “Communication is radically redesigned, and I like to think that what works for employees will work for the company. “

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