Remote workers are heading back to the office—but some startups are working to make virtual offices the new norm.
- In an effort to create employee connectivity and engagement to remote jobs, a few companies are working to create virtual office spaces.
- Zoom is introducing a virtual office space called Zoom Spots that is set to launch in 2023 and other startups have been working on spaces as well.
- A virtual office startup Roam has a space that recreates an office building with each person logging on and lighting up their icon like they are actually in an office. The office has conference rooms, kitchens, and other spaces to socialize.
Why it’s news
Remote work has contributed to the biggest decline in employee engagement in a decade, according to Gallup.
Other research shows that the most effective teams engage often in conversation outside of scheduled meeting times.
In the years following the pandemic many businesses opted to go remote after finding that employees work the same if not better from the comfort of their own home.
Around 26% of U.S. employees work remotely as of 2022 and around 16% of U.S. companies are fully remote, according to Zippia.
Remote work is beneficial for both parties as the employer does not have to pay for a physical office space while the employee can work from home or anywhere they please.
One thing virtual workplaces lack—connectivity. In an office people see each other daily and are able to interact and have informal conversations, but with remote work that’s not possible.
In an effort to bring that feeling of being connected within the workplace many companies, including Zoom and other startups, are looking to create virtual office spaces.
Zoom is introducing a virtual office space called Zoom Spots that is set to launch in 2023 and other startups have been working on spaces as well.
A virtual office startup Roam has a space that recreates an office building with each person logging on and lighting up their icon like they are actually in an office. The office has conference rooms, kitchens and other spaces to socialize.
Employees have icons where they can show if they are busy or ready to talk and other employees can “knock” on their office door to chat. The office comes with other cool features like office pets you can add.
The cost is around $10 per employee per month—about half of what Zoom currently charges for its business packages.
The offices are created to make businesses feel connected while remaining online.
“The post-pandemic workforce will be hybrid moving forward, and there’s a stronger desire to create sustained connection and team unity,” says Gartner Inc. analyst Adam Prese. “The thing that makes a virtual office special is the interaction between people.”
Virtual offices are a new market that is quickly winning over investors and expected to continue growing in the near future.
Partner at venture capital firm IVP Jules Maltz was a leader of Roam’s recent $30 million investments and she expects many other vendors to get involved.
“The market opportunity is so big it will attract a lot of people trying to figure it out,” says Maltz.