A graphic of avatars sitting around a virtual table, with a video call taking place on the screen in front of them.
Horizon Workrooms. Image: Facebook

Facebook is trying to replicate the office with a new VR workspace

19 Aug 2021

Facebook subsidiary Oculus is trying to let workers feel as if they are in the office with a new VR platform.

Oculus, Facebook’s virtual reality business, has created a new platform to enable workers to replicate the traditional office experience, albeit virtually.

The new feature, called Horizon Workrooms, can be downloaded for free by Oculus Quest 2 users and account holders.

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According to a blog post by Oculus, the Facebook team has already been using the platform as they work remotely themselves.

Horizon Workrooms boasts several VR features and product tools that could come in handy for teams, especially if they are finding remote work difficult.

While a Quest 2 headset is required for the person who initially sets up their team’s Workrooms account, anyone can join from then on through VR or dialling into the virtual room from their computer by video call.

The Workrooms web app also syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook. Guests can be invited to join Workrooms calls by receiving a shared meeting link.

Up to 50 people can appear on a call, or 16 people in VR together, with participants appearing virtually on screen as if in an actual meeting room.

Users can adjust the room’s layout to fit the size of the group and they can also share files and sketch ideas in real time using the product’s virtual whiteboard feature.

Workrooms also lets users converse in real time, and Facebook said it has improved Oculus Avatars – a tech feature that was launched earlier in the year – to make colleagues feel as though they are actually together in a room chatting.

Once users enable hand tracking on their devices, they can also use their hands as their primary input method, rather than controllers, to make the experience feel more realistic.

Facebook bought Oculus for $2bn in 2014, and two years later it began shipping the Oculus Rift, which was mainly targeted at gamers.

The Oculus Quest 2, which was launched last year, marked the company’s first foray into the workplace market.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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