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Hip Virtual Working Tools

August 25, 2008

I received a press release from eOffice last week about their new virtual conferencing center on Second Life. eOffice is a great concept: they provide hip office space and related services for mobile entrepreneurs. I am waiting patiently for their Boston office to take shape. 


While I am not a Second Life devotee, I did take the tour of the new conferencing suites. Wow. As someone who works as a flexible workspace evangelist, I was floored by the concept. Essentially, it’s NetMeeting on steroids. The problem is: it’s really hard to take avatars seriously in a business setting. I really love the idea, but I’m having a hard time imagining collaborating online with clients/colleagues while staring at their avatars. Picture this:

Forester released a report about this phenomenon in January 2008 (Getting Real Work Done in Virtual Worlds). The report predicts, “within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today.” Surveys also show that the technology just isn’t there yet. It’s a trend to keep our eyes on. 


Still, for solo-preneurs, flex-workers (whatever you want to call them) the tools that are out there to help you work from home (or from Starbucks) are amazing. It’s really not just about flexibility and portability. It’s about professionalism. For so long, working from home conjured up an image of someone in a La-z-boy with a D-D coffee in the armrest cup-holder.  Today’s mobile workers do things like:

  • Get their mail sent to swanky urban addresses, that then redirect to their homes.
  • Hire professional answering services (prices are coming way down).
  • Use services like Webex for online conferencing and collaboration
  • Use file-sharing and idea-workshopping tools such as Huddle.

Considering that more and more companies are allowing work-from-home or flexible-work arrangements (50% of Sun Microsystems employees work remotely), the investment and advancement of these technologies are considerable.  

I hope to take some tours of some virtual collaboration apps, such as Webex and Huddle in the coming weeks. Will report back.









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