How to Travel for fun, not work: Advice for Working Remotely

If you were to read 1920’s telephone advertisements, it would sound very familiar to what we’re hearing about virtual reality now. “Aladdin’s lamp transported its owner from place to place in the twinkling of an eye. That was thousands of years ago - and the lamp was only a myth. But so wonderful that the story has endured to this day.”

Despite being marketed just as a business tool at its inception in 1876, the telephone reached mainstream consumers within just a few decades. In the 1920’s, the telephone took a sudden change of direction - it was sold as a device made to connect people. Thoughts and vocal characteristics of humans were literally transported via electrical current. We wouldn’t see another revolutionary step forward in communications until the invention of the internet.

Fast-forward to the 2010’s, where we’ve finally seen the first generation of practical and affordable virtual reality technology. Through it we’re able to digitally transport people to any environment we can build and render in real-time. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you have a decent internet connection. The ability to interact remotely within the digital presence of others is a now a reality.

One of the great benefits of developing software for productivity, has been the ability to constantly be using that software while developing it. At Doghead Simulations, we meet inside of our VR collaboration software, rumii, on almost a daily basis. Any bugs or shortfalls of our own software immediately become obvious, because after all, we are using rumii to develop rumii. As the saying goes, “We’re eating our own dog food.”

Working remotely has immediate benefits of eliminating a lot of the exhausting travel that can take a toll on your physical and mental health. By replacing cross-country and international business meetings with virtual meetings, companies also going to save a lot of business expenses. Because of this, most will likely think about all of the travel they can eliminate when they’re able to effectively work remotely. While this might be true, there’s actually a lot of freedom to travel and living abroad when you’re able to eliminate travel for work. After you’ve freed yourself from the need to work in one particular location, start considering where in the world you’d want to work. As long as you can find a decent internet connection, the world is yours.

Seattle Startup Week

DogheadSimulationsSEAStartupWeek

We are excited to announce that we have been invited to Pitch at IBM SmartCamp at the Galnvanize workspace in downtown Seattle and will also be demonstrating our VR Collaboration software, rumii, at PlutoVR as part of Seattle Startup Week November 17, 2016! Pitching our company never gets old; we always welcome the chance to share our vision for the future of work and how it allows for real collaboration between team members through the power of virtual reality.

Talking about our company, Doghead Simulations, has become second nature to us since we’ve been giving the pitch practically non-stop since VRVCA Beijing. It never gets boring or old to explain that companies spend $1 trillion annually on travelling their teams around the world. The looks on the investors faces are always priceless when hearing that.

We know that our virtual reality software is solving real world problems that haven’t been faced by the workforce before. Factors like globalization, outsourcing, and progressive culture shifts such as “Future of Work” are generating distributed team members all over the world and creating interactions between people who go whole projects without ever meeting each other in person. In fact, 45% of IT teams work remotely around the globe, not including other industries.

While it is awesome that we have the technology to communicate and work with people across the country and across continents, it simply isn’t keeping up with the demand that humans have for instant, interactive, and vibrant collaboration. That is why virtual reality is catching on so quickly and why we have harnessed its capabilities for true distributed team collaboration.

Virtual reality is the tool, but how it is used for business is they key. Our company is made up of team members who not only face the challenges of working remotely, but they are industry leaders who understand how virtual reality works and the hardware that displays those environments work. We have suffered with our customers using Agile and Scrum remotely, a methodology and framework that was developed to be used in a co-located environment. However, remote teams still use this methodology because it has been proven to be the most effective in iterative, timely development of products, software, and process - so much so that 89% of businesses use Agile project management methodology to build products or improve customer satisfaction.

We invite the challenge. We crave the opportunity. We hope to see you at one of the events this week!

Demoing rumii at VRVCA, Beijing.

Demoing rumii at VRVCA, Beijing.

Collaboration Tools are Killing the Office

Photo Credit wocintechchat.com

Photo Credit wocintechchat.com

We all gathered around in the office for our weekly product review meeting. In this meeting we review software updates, enhancements we wanted to make, and share any other ideas or news to the team.

We started at the kanban board where a few User Stories were posted. "I think we should make the font stand out more", our environment artist said, clearly pointing to the header text that read To Do, Doing, Done. "Agreed, we should also make the board itself look more realistic", said another. Everyone gathered around the objects mentioned. It was clearly understood by the team what needed to be done. We were all seeing the same bugs and goofiness that goes along with software in real time but in virtual reality.

"Wow. I just realized I spent the whole 40 minutes without looking at my phone!" said our CEO, Mat.  In a world where we look at our phones up to every 6 seconds, this was amazing. It has been proven again and again that we can't multi-task. To be truly productive at something we have to focus 100% effort on it. Here we just spent 40 minutes in a meeting together fully engaged and participating. That is the power of virtual reality. It's fun, like a game in the sense that we can move our avatars around and interact with objects without gravity getting in the way. Here in lies the key to productivity, letting the people be people.

There are plenty of articles, techniques, and tools out there to make sure we focus on our work instead of drifting off to Facebook. Some say to focus on a task for 20 minutes before taking a break. We can download software that blocks our internet for a set of time so that we aren't tempted to drift from our work. A quick Google search for “collaboration tools” came up with the following lists:

  • The 20 best tools for online collaboration
  • 7 Free & Easy-to-Use Online Collaboration Tools
  • 5 Types Of Office Collaboration Tools: Which Is Right For Your Team?
  • 20 contemporary enterprise collaboration tools
  • (as we speak Dropbox just emailed me 6 productivity hacks for you to try now”!)

Feeling overwhelmed yet?

What are we supposed to do with 7, 5, and 20+ collaboration tools? At which point do these tools start to create chaos instead of communication? We believe that your team only needs one form of collaboration: your team themselves. They only need the space to do it in. That's why we created our virtual reality office work space, rumii, and found that was all we needed to stay engaged and productive as a team.

Is your team interested in cutting the clutter and getting straight to the point? Email us at Contact@dogheadsimulations.com to get started today.

5 Spooktacular Secrets Revealed at Seattle VR

SeattleVR Halloween

Halloween is a time to dress up in costume and pretend to be somebody or something else other than ourselves. It’s a day when we can transform our world into a different reality with makeup, costumes, and extra fun food like “Mummy Meatloaf”. This isn’t so different from virtual reality, where we are able to set aside the problems we face in day to day life to have fun and do things a little differently. This past week two of our team members, Mat and Tony, went to Seattle VR’s Halloween Meetup. Read below to what they learned and saw at this spooktacular event!

What drew you to the Seattle VR meetup (besides the Halloween party)?

Mat: It’s a great place to meet like-minded people who are as passionate about VR as we are. It was also a great way to live our VR Avatars in real life!

Tony: I really wanted to see what our peers in the area were up to. VR is such a small community at this point but it's growing like crazy, I feel like we really need to support each other to continue to grow. It's awesome to get feedback from everyone else in the business and the amount of virtual reality knowledge that's crammed into one room is a pretty great thing (and free beer).

Who was someone interesting you met?

Mat: Hands down those people would be Eva Hearse @downtohoerth and Amber Osborne @MissDestructo. Two very wonderful ladies influencing the VR industry.

Tony: Oh yeah, definitely Eva and Kayla Didier @kayladidier they both put on the @seattlevr meetups and they're doing a fantastic job. Also, Woody Floyd over at Vectorform. That guy is great. We met up with him at Altstadt afterwards and had a great time.

What were the types of devices used to demo VR?

Mat: The HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR.

What was the best costume you saw?

Mat: There was a dude walking around with a piece of paper pinned to his shirt that read “404 Error - Costume not found.” Genius!

Tony: I liked Woody’s costume. At first I thought it was terrible, until I found out his name is actually Woody! He dressed up and his name is Woody. Best example I've seen of being yourself for Halloween.

Will you be at the next Seattle VR meetup? 

Mat: Absolutely! We love these meetups and always meet the most wonderful people.

Tony: I am 100% going. You get to demo all kinds of cool things people are putting out, you can geek out with a bunch of people all about VR, and you get to meet a ton of people that you can become friends with and have the potential to collaborate with.

 

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @dogheadsims for the next Seattle VR event!

Virtual Reality: The Missing Link to Digital Transformation

What does it take to compete in today's market? What steps should companies be taking today to ensure their relevance tomorrow? Last year we started hearing that businesses need to be concerned with aim towards digital transformation. Digital transformation is an organization change process which values creation, competitions, and interaction with customers. It is a concern for all industries as it makes us think how we can use new digital tools to transform business processes.

Virtual Reality is a digital technology that enables digital transformation. Virtual Reality (VR) is a change process disruptor because in VR you interact with the virtual world in the same way you do outside of it. VR forces innovative thinking as to new ways it can be used for customer interaction and creativity. It weeds out those who cannot adapt to the new ways companies do business through these types of virtual tools, so that only the ones who can see value in the tools to transform business are left. Virtual Reality is the type of technology that companies need to take advantage of in order to stay relevant and compete.

Unfortunately, not all companies are able to see a digital transformation technology when it presents itself. Some of the challenges that can keep a business from recognizing this opportunity are:

Lack of Impetus

  • Skepticism of emerging technologies
  • Lack of awareness of digital opportunities and threats

The best way to move past skepticism of emerging technologies is to set up mini experiments within the company. Most software vendors provide a trial version. Set up teams in advance and brief them on the goal to test the viability of the technology. Have teams come up with key ways they want to test the technology for how it can help their business. Running these experiments will also help to identify the opportunities and threats that come along with them.

Using Virtual Reality for instance, you may set up two distributed teams. One in an office in Detroit another an office in Tokyo. Tell the teams you want them to test running their daily stand up in VR for one week. Then ask them, while they are using the software to note what they like and what they don't like about it. Also ask them to identify other opportunities to use the software. You may find that the teams are more engaged in their stand ups since they are "in person" together.

Unclear Business Case

  • Lack of justifiable economic business plan
  • Use of marketing experiments

The number one business case for using virtual reality in the enterprise is this number: $1 trillion. Companies spend $1 trillion dollars annually to co-locate distributed teams. That's $1 trillion dollars that could be spent towards research and development, sustainability practices, employee enrichment programs, and more. Virtual Reality implementations cost less than traditional teleconferencing tools. A Typical Cisco on site implementation can run north of 25k per end point. With that the team is still stuck at that location, staring at a large screen. Virtual Reality cloud-hosted VR platforms are cheaper because they run on a per use licensing model which are flexible to a specific company’s needs.

It's not just the upfront cost of using these tools that companies have to think about. It's the long term effect of not using the right tool for the job. Companies spend so much money to co-locate their teams because people work better when they are in the same space together, congregated around the same whiteboard and reading each other’s body language. VR allows those team members the same experience without wasting time and energy travelling.  

Digital transformation is anything that allows enterprises to become more streamlined and faster to better compete in the market. To do this, companies must automate as many tasks as possible to reduce friction. One of those tasks in travelling for work. Time, energy, money, these are all tasks that take away from a business focusing on its core competencies. By reducing these barriers, companies can focus their energy on what keeps them competitive in the market instead.