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As the world continues to grapple with controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are weighing up how to keep their employees working safely. Do you let staff continue to work remotely? Or allow them to return in dribs and drabs, with rotas and social distancing?

The problem is, whatever approach you take, there are going to be flaws.

Sure, you can let staff return to the offices, and set up communal points for cleaning, rotas, one-way systems. But you're slapping a plaster over a gaping wound. Our traditional offices and meeting rooms were designed in a time before we realised that, actually, people travelling miles-and-miles for a single meeting might not be worthwhile.

How soon will we be returning to the traditional meeting room?

But, the thing is, people will have to return to the office because humans need that face-to-face interaction. It's unscheduled, unplanned conversations that spark ideas and innovation. And, as some people return and others don’t, this can lead to a sense of exclusion and disconnect from your colleagues and your company.

Finally, as you might have discovered yourself, having everything you work with, contained in a small screen on limited desk space, isn't actually the best or most natural way to engage with or visualise information. Plenty of people have noticed they're working longer. But are they working smarter?

We’re not the only people to think there’s potential and possibility to embrace change in the light of COVID-19. Deloitte thinks so. Fortune thinks so. Bill Gates thinks we can make things better and more efficient than they were before. Adam Grant in The Economist thinks we can improve everything from increasing job satisfaction to creating more ethical leadership.

So, what we should be thinking about is not just how to make our offices compliant with social distancing, but how to maximise their use and space. What we should be thinking about is working smarter and working better.

And that's why, for so many companies, Igloo is working on installing immersive technology. We’re building new spaces, or retrofitting existing spaces to be places of ideation, creativity, visualisation, and collaboration.

And what makes it particularly suited for the now and forever is that it’s ideal for having a few colleagues within the room while others video call in, represented with a life-sized montage of faces.

Imagine all your data and apps around you. Easy to visualise. Moving everything on your 2D screen into a 3D space. And that makes things easier to collaborate on, chat over, see, brainstorm, and discuss.

Dr. Kerstin Sailer, speaking in The Guardian, signed off her column on reimagining the office post-COVID with “We can surely make it through more months or years until we have a Covid vaccine, but we should not sacrifice the idea that we will all meet again regularly in a space, a space that provides the best design possible for people to share a sense of togetherness and purpose.”

Three people inside an Igloo immersive workspace.
In an Igloo immersive workspace, your tools are on the walls around you, with remote colleagues dialled in.

And we absolutely agree. That new meeting space is an immersive space. A space that can allow us to collaborate in new ways, without our tools and apps restricted to a small screen ahead of us. A hybrid physical-virtual workspace where colleagues can meet in real space, welcomed whether they’re calling remotely or in-the-flesh.

The old meeting room is defunct. Instead of keeping it on its last legs, let’s think about how we can replace it.

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