It's the 21st century – yes, virtual coworking is now a concept. Virtual coworking spaces provide many of the same benefits as physical coworking spaces but without being in the same place. Those who use a virtual coworking space get the sense of community and more without constant interruptions or having to go to a specific location. Most virtual coworking spaces even have virtual floorplans, so you can feel as if you are truly in the same office and even virtually knock on doors or go to a meeting.
In most coworking spaces, you physically go to the space to get work done, then sit at a desk and interact with people throughout the day, enjoying amenities, like coffee and printing. With a virtual coworking space, you work from wherever you are, such as your home, so you do not physically sit in the space or get access to coffee. You do, however, virtually sit at a specific desk in the virtual floorplan, go to virtual locations, like phone booths and meeting rooms, and get to interact with others in a virtual setting.
Many of the benefits associated with virtual coworking spaces are very similar to those of physical spaces. With a physical coworking space, you actually have people around you, so you do not feel lonely during the workday. With a virtual space, you get the same feeling even if you are working from home. Just pressing a button lets you interact with others, and you can view the virtual map to see where everyone is at a given moment in time.
Virtual spaces also make it possible to see what others are working on at any given moment or view where they are. For example, you can see if a group of people is having a meeting in the virtual meeting room or is taking a phone call in the virtual phone booth. Most virtual coworking spaces have customizable rooms, making it possible to let the others in the virtual world know what you are working on. This is particularly useful for those working on team projects, as everyone can stay on the same page.
One way that virtual coworking dramatically improves upon on regular coworking is the ability to interact with those who are on the other side of the world. It is physically impossible to share a coworking space if you are in North America and someone else is in Europe or Asia, but you can do this with virtual coworking. As such, virtual coworking allows for an extra layer of teamwork, even if you are nowhere near each other geographically.
Virtual coworking is already growing in popularity due to its flexibility, low costs, and the benefits mentioned above. Future coworking is likely to incorporate a virtual element, particularly as virtual reality and other technologies advance. There are already companies offering virtual coworking spaces and many others who use these services.
For example, Sococo gives you a virtual floorplan with avatars for each employee, so everyone can see where the others are and get an idea of what they are working on. People can still knock on virtual doors before entering a room or shut a virtual door if they do not want to be disturbed.
MyWorkHive lets those who work remotely interact with others, learning together and sharing experiences. It aims to help provide a sense of community to encourage productivity.
Arena does a similar thing by providing a virtual space for entrepreneurs to work with each other. They can discover new people with shared interests and assist each other. They have an online forum, weekly virtual events, personal introductions, and more.
As technology advances, specifically virtual reality technology, virtual coworking is likely to become even more popular. The number of virtual coworking companies has potential to grow, with many experts predicting that future coworking spaces will more than likely choose to include this type of virtual element.
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