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Since the pandemic began, many of us have been sorely missing meetups. Whatever our line of work, intimate get-togethers can be the backbone of productivity and creativity. You get a few people in a room, and you let the ideas and the discussions flow. Zoom offers a version of this, but it’s a pale imitation.

How can virtual meetups be imbued with the presence, dynamism, and richness of the real thing? How can virtual meetup groups enjoy an experience that isn’t just one more video chat? Through extended reality technology that offers a truly 3D experience.

Everyone is Missing the In-Person Get-Together 

There are many reasons that professionals and creatives need to conduct a small meet-up. Perhaps a marketing team needs to review and edit a slide deck as a group. Perhaps a group of designers or architects need to look over some physical designs together. Perhaps an emergency departmental meeting is required. Or perhaps it’s just Friday, and time for some end-of-week cocktails.

Whatever the reason for the meetup, a key ingredient is a sense of rich interpersonal interaction. It is the feeling of being there, in the presence of other fully formed people, that gives the situation its energy and its kinesis. We are hardwired to desire physical contact, and situations are more engaging and valuable when they contain this element. 

In the pre-pandemic workplace, this feeling sensation came baked-in. But not any longer. Video calls are a pale imitation of the mood and atmosphere of a meetup. 

In addition to Zoom fatigue, human interactions via video conferencing tools contribute to touch deprivation, a condition where the absence of physical contact leads to elevated stress levels, anxiety, and even depression.

Reinjecting the Real

Virtual meetups can’t fully mimic the physical experience (yet). But extended reality technology can bring us a lot closer than where most companies are at right now. 

For many months now, the majority of workplace interactions have been confined to Slack, Asana, and Zoom. These business solutions have been wonderful, giving people the ability and flexibility to work effectively from any location. However, these platforms can’t even come close to replicating the atmosphere and vibe of a small meetup. Virtual meetups confined to existing popular tools lack the sensory and experiential features that people value and crave.

In a setting like that offered by the SpatialWeb, companies and groups are able to access a powerful feature set that matches what people want from a meetup:

  • A dynamic 3D world. Three-dimensional virtual meetup spaces are dynamic and vivid. Rather than a flat webcam feed, they are a full 3D world. People know that once they enter, they can roam and explore like they can in the real world.
  • Immersive sensory engagement. Virtual meetup rooms and spaces created in extended reality spaces are immersive, engaging all of the senses. Interactive elements can be touched, spaces can be explored, and a 360-degree view treats users with visual depth. 
  • Embodied conversations. In social settings, people instinctively want as many social cues as possible. As well as someone’s voice, they want to see their movement, the direction they’re facing, signs of mood or reaction. An effective virtual meetup must include these rich interpersonal signals, not merely a grid of webcam feeds.
  • Impromptu opportunities. Small meetups thrive on spontaneity and creativity. Sometimes you need to gather around or whiteboard. Sometimes you want to move to a room with a different view. Rich, XR spaces allow for complex and flexible environments that can be rapidly customized to the needs of small groups.
  • The opportunity for fun and games. We’ve all had enough of Zoom quizzes. In a richer XR environment, the gamification can be much more adventurous. Host treasure hunts, play soccer, hop on video games together. Whatever the meetup needs to keep it fresh and firing. Remember: Research has shown that gamification at the workplace helped 87% of employees improve their productivity scores.

The Future of Virtual Meetups is XR-Based

Virtual meetup groups are here to stay, as more and more companies implement permanent remote work arrangements. Employees working from home or other remote locations are expected to double in numbers in 2021.

For virtual meetups to be truly effective, these must provide workers with the elements of a meetup that are so valuable in a physical setting. The advent of a remote work tech stack may have given workers the tools to connect, communicate, and collaborate, but virtual meetups through these channels just don’t give people a truly rich experience.

The SpatialWeb was built to combine the best of the 3D world with the best of the virtual. Harnessing the best elements of extended reality technology, the platform allows teams and groups to create environments that faithfully recreate a vibrant meetup feeling.

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