What is it?
As physical movement becomes more difficult and more expensive, companies such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Crayola are setting up virtual offices and virtual meetings rooms to allow employees to communicate and interact. This is happening in other spheres too. In education, students are downloading lectures so they don’t have to show up in person, while cyberspaces are also being used for training purposes and data storage.
Virtual meetings can reduce carbon footprints. Digital meetings can also be stored, or even downloaded onto an iPod or computer, so that they can be ‘attended’ at a later date. Remote data back-up and secure storage is also emerging as an opportunity within the home.
Virtual meetings are not carbon-free (they still use electricity) and having an avatar attend a meeting can mean that people miss vital clues such as body language. Equally, doing away with physical office space entirely is possibly a bad idea because there is still a need for people to physically interact if you want to achieve any meaningful sense of community.