How Orca Scan use VR to collaborate as a remote team

Team Orca gathering for our daily stand-up meeting.
Team Orca gathering for our daily stand-up meeting.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was looking for technical solutions to bring people together. Remote working became the norm and we spent our time doing quizzes on zoom 🙃😬

We quickly accelerated to a digital-first world and companies around the world scrambled to make the most of the advancements.

As the world creeps towards a “new normal”, the Orca Team, like so many are experimenting with new ways of working for 2022 and beyond.

While an office can be a home from home, the pull of in-person working has been overshadowed by the benefits of a flexible workplace. Ultimately, supporting employees to find purpose and balance is what matters ⚖️

Staying ahead of the curve

Being a tech company we’re keen to be at the forefront of new tech and we love to experiment. After the lockdowns, we decided to keep our team fully remote, giving everyone the opportunity to work flexibly from anywhere they wished. This has enabled us to grow our team across the world and strengthened our ability to support customers globally.

Team members Sami (based in Saudi Arabia), Owen (based in England) and Veronica (based in Spain) taking part in dress-down Friday - VR style!
Team members Sami (based in Saudi Arabia), Owen (based in England) and Veronica (based in Spain) taking part in dress-down Friday - VR style!

We know the ‘water cooler culture’ is popular because it allowed people to brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. When this can’t be done in person, we knew we had to do it digitally and to be successful, it had to feel like we were one cohesive team no matter where we were working from.

VR technology has enabled us to bridge the gap between these two realities.

Virtual reality is an artificial environment created with software and presented to the user in a way that suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. While it’s been used for years as a gaming method, there is a new wave of VR technology that is enabling businesses like ours to collaborate in person, from anywhere in the world.

Milad, Veronica and John in our customised office in the Metaverse.
Milad, Veronica and John in our customised office in the Metaverse.

How are we working in the Metaverse?

While we’re already using tools such as Spatial Chat to connect with the team each day. The Metaverse is coming, whether we like it or not, so we decided to jump in headfirst. At the end of 2021, we invested in VR headsets for the whole team and began the transition into web 3.0.

It’s awesome. It really feels like I’m in an office with everyone!

We have found that VR has allowed us to come together as a team, all in one customised space. It has been invaluable for our sprint planning, team building and general collaboration… we even use it to wind down after a long day, playing team games on our headsets too - a great way to get out any team frustrations 👀

The experiences that come out of VR really help increase job satisfaction for me. That, in turn, helps me be more productive and focused when it comes down to doing work.

Teething problems

Of course, there were a few implementation issues. It was tricky to connect our current remote systems, Notion and Slack, which was essential for us to have true efficiency in the VR space. We tried several programmes before we settled with Facebook Horizon Workrooms.

Being a fully remote team, this transition also put a big onus on each team member to troubleshoot their problems themselves. Have you ever had to deliver tech support to your nan over the phone? It’s tricky and difficult to explain when you aren’t there to help and this is exactly how our team felt 🤦 It’s made us all experts in our own headsets!

Even our new mascot Bubbles gets involved in the VR fun.
Even our new mascot Bubbles gets involved in the VR fun.
I love itreally brings the team energy to life I don’t think you can put a price on that

Finally, the motion sickness… 🤢 It’s taken us a few weeks to get used to using our headsets daily, and we’re still learning our limitations and how we can make this technology work for us.

6 months later…

We’ve been using our VR headsets for around 6 months and it’s made a huge difference to how we work as a team. As a tool, it’s worked to bring us together and feel connected as a team - offering a new perspective to our company culture. We’re excited to see where this innovation will take us… 🚀

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