Receiving data from 2030

Hi, I’m Rosea.

I work as a junior supervisor of AI Content Creation for a global company.

One of the reasons why I applied for the position was that I wanted to relocate to where the company’s headquarter is located. Then the laws changed and now a job is no longer a valid reason to obtain a visa. It’s not too bad though, I like the city where I grew up, too.

I work out of a three bed flat, shared with two other roommates. Sometimes I wish my employer would support me in renting a spot in a co-working space, but the head office says there’s no budget for it.

Instead I invested some money into one of these super functional work pods that can be reassembled into a couch, a bed or even a small yoga area. So I often get up early and start my day with 10 to 20 minutes of yoga. It relaxes me and also fulfils the company guidelines for my daily exercise.

Even though I work from my small bedroom, I can’t complain – we have a beautiful virtual office. I love the interior design – It’s so bright and stylish! I have a big room for myself that I decorated with lots of plants and some family pictures to feel more at home. They are hanging next to the motivational company posters that remind me to give my best every day.

Some years ago everybody at the company still had their cameras on in meetings, but now we don’t really do that anymore. My avatar looks more professional and put together anyway and I don’t need to worry about what to wear, which is nice. However, at times the lack of real facial expression and body language makes me feel a bit like a robot and not like a human with emotions and feelings. No one ever recognises when I’m having a bad day and could use someone to talk to. But that might also be because I don’t interact or talk with people that I’m not directly working with. Our company AI, HeatheR, checks in with me every once in a while, but even though she tries her best, it’s just not the same somehow.

That’s why I really enjoyed our first company retreat last year, where I met my colleagues for the first time in real life since I started the job. I’m glad the head office believes that occasionally meeting in person is very valuable and enhances virtual collaboration.

The physical lunch breaks with my flatmates make my day. It’s so nice to spend some time talking and laughing together. That often ends up taking more time than my official lunch break, but I installed this super useful little tool: It will start to simulate my usual behaviour on my work computer roughly at 1pm, when I am supposed to be back. You have to make sure to update it all the time though – HeatheR is constantly getting better at detecting that sort of thing. She also tracks my general activity in the virtual office. Last month I was among the 20 per cent most productive employees, which unlocked some new features for me. Now I can choose from many new hairstyle options for my avatar.

When I started the job it took me some time to learn how to switch off after work. It even affected my sleep. But since I started pursuing a couple of offline hobbies I got much better at separating the two worlds I’m living in.

A colleague just sent me a link to join this secret encrypted messaging channel the other day. We started talking about the stuff we don’t like at work and someone mentioned some guys at another company that organised a virtual strike. Someone even attacked their company servers and got their virtual office infected with a virus. There are rumours that they are now negotiating better working conditions with the company. Maybe there is a way to change things for the better.

  • A001 _ Avatar hairstyle
    A001 _ Avatar hairstyle

    Current video call and conference tools already offer many digital personalisation options, such as virtual make-up or filters using face-recognition. These features will probably continue to play a larger part in the remote work experience as they get less and less glitchy. If co-workers are only seeing a digital image or avatar of each other for most of the time, there really are no limits as to how they could present themselves. For Rosea, her avatar functions as her work persona and is her visible identity in the virtual office.

  • A002 _ Work pod assembly manual
    A002 _ Work pod assembly manual

    With many people working from home, the design of furniture has to change, since even small homes need to have space for working areas. In this future scenario, Rosea is expected to work from home and has to use her small bedroom as efficiently as possible. The work pod is a big part of her life since it makes it possible to reuse the same space for many different purposes. During Phase 2: Search we found examples such as Jak Studio’s L20 sofa concept that doubles up as a private work pod.

  • A003 _ Virtual office plant
    A003 _ Virtual office plant

    With remote work accelerating physical offices could become obsolete and virtual offices could become the new workplace for many people. We can observe this for example with companies like WeTransfer openeing their first virtual office in May 2020. Rosea’s physical work location is at home in her small bedroom. So for her the virtual office is the only location that provides space for nice office decorations and a pleasant atmosphere. She decided to decorate her virtual office room with plenty of plants.

  • A004 _ HeatheR notification
    A004 _ HeatheR notification

    Since remote work takes place in a solely digital environment, activity tracking could play an increasing role in future remote work situations. We could see this happening with Zoom’s attendee attention tracking feature, which they had to remove in April 2020 after widespread outcry. On the other hand we can already find examples of anti-surveillance software like Presence Scheduler that shows how employees are finding creative ways of evading the company gaze. Rosea’s company AI HeatheR shows where this development could lead to in the future. Since her activity is being tracked in the virtual office, she tries to find ways to bypass this surveillance.

  • A005 _ Virtual motivational poster
    A005 _ Virtual motivational poster

    The company Rosea is working is focusing solely on increasing the productivity of their remote employees. They are taking advantage of the remote working environment by implementing this thought through many means. The virtual motivational office posters are a constant reminder for the workers to give their best.