Thursday 22nd November 2018

Holograms were once a mainstay of science fiction, but in recent years, we’ve seen them enter our reality – from holograms of our favourite musical artists on stage, to hologram lecturers at universities. It is suggested that by 2020, the market for display holograms will be worth up to $5.5 billion. Clearly, holograms are expected to become a much larger part of our lives in the coming years. But what about in the workplace?

The rate of remote working is rapidly increasing, so could holograms help fill the gap left by our absence in the office? The idea might be appealing on the surface, but Professor Jeremy Myerson of WorkTech Academy, warns that the use of holograms in the workplace has the potential to be problematic:

Holograms have been popping up in retail, hospitality and transport environments as a digital adjunct to the service experience.In those contexts, holographic guides can be useful, and even fun. But we should proceed with caution in the workplace.

Work is already distributed and remote in many cases – people with the ability to work anywhere come to the office for human connection and face-to-face engagement, be that mentoring, training or project collaboration.Arriving at work to be greeted by yet another disembodied piece of technology – however ‘life-like’ –might run counter to what new thinking in workplace is trying to achieve, i.e. nature, authenticity, human interaction”.

While the argument against the impersonal nature of holograms should be noted, we can also see the technology that enables us to communicate more efficiently in the workplace will always have its place, even if it has its drawbacks – think video conferencing, and more recently, the use of AI assistants, both of which have had similar arguments made against them.

UK’s first live hologram call

Vodafone recently debuted the UK’s first live hologram call, using 5G technology, showing businesses what could be achieved in the near-future, with limitless possibilities for organisations with branches or clients spread worldwide.

It may not be quite face-to-face, but it is undoubtedly the next best thing, especially when you cannot physically be in the same room. As the workplace becomes more competitive, and noticeably, more global, collaboration and engagement between employees is taking centre stage. For a business to really succeed, relationships must be strong, and staff participation is key.

The future of the workplace

At the same time, the typical office is moving in different directions, with workforces separating and spreading, working in different areas, increasingly working away from the office. Perhaps the idea of communicating via hologram is the technological glue that will hold both notions together?

Will colleagues communicating via hologram provide an outcome that the humble telephone call, video call, or even email, cannot? Some workplace experts predict that VR headsets will soon replace workstations, and holographic communication will replace the humble teleconference or video conference.

The benefits are clear – wouldn’t we all like to feel like we’re in the same space as our colleagues who are thousands of miles away?

What’s more, the visual element of holograms beats all existing technology, as anyone who has ever attempted to describe an image over a phone call can attest! With the ability to visualise properly, even if separated by distance, colleagues have a better chance of achieving peak collaboration.

The capacity of holograms in the workplace should not be ignored, even if the concept feels alien to some.

Sunita Pachova, Business Development Manager I @SunitaUK

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