Ana Reyes, Ph.D., a remote work advocate since the ‘90s, knew what she wanted in a virtual world.
As an educator and organizational consultant, Reyes came up with ways to work from anywhere, connecting multi-cultural teams using software. She taught virtual collaboration and explored 3D immersive work as an affiliated faculty member at two notable universities. At New Worlds Enterprise, she coaches leaders and their teams across industries.
Here, she reveals how Virbela stacks up to earlier virtual environments, video solutions, and the real world.
How has Virbela influenced the way you work?
With Virbela, I can invite a wider range of interested people to meet with me in the virtual world, as long as they have a laptop and broadband. Virtual worlds are finally widely accessible for non-technical populations.
It’s the most user-friendly onboarding I’ve ever experienced in a virtual world.
Human concierges stand by to guide or direct. Because they have a live welcome upon entering, I feel confident inviting users to the platform. Despite its simplicity of look and feel, there’s a sense of shared presence in Virbela.
Now, nearly anyone can effectively participate in the educational and social experiences of virtual worlds—especially compared to earlier enterprise VR environments that became popular a decade ago.
Ana, you’re a PhD: Do you have any academic thoughts on how people interact in Virbela?
Until Virbela, virtual world software didn’t always work well across consumer platforms or adequately support business and learning uses. Tech frequently lagged, froze, or booted users off. Now, we can more easily work collaboratively and enjoy casual interactions. The fact that the technology has caught up with how people work is foundational for widespread adoption.
But first, from a cultural perspective, 3D-immersive environments and their social interaction cues have to be learned, just like any other new culture or unfamiliar physical place.
Secondly, over the last decade, I have experienced the many ways that individuals and groups treat 3D-immersive spaces, including Virbela, like physical space.
For example, when an avatar gets too close, another backs away. When avatars collaborate on projects or explore or play together inside these spaces, they tend to chat informally and bond.
These interpersonal cues translate even as Virbela offers social interaction that can be superior to the physical world.
You’re also an organizational coach: How does Virbela support some of your favorite leadership principles?
Our biggest problems as a human civilization in 2021 are global. Their solutions require inclusive, tech-enabled collaboration on a large scale.
Virbela humanizes dispersed collaboration and community building. A great variety of well-designed tools makes it possible to translate meetings, events, and informal networking from the physical to the virtual world.
By mixing work and leisure spaces, it’s easier to evolve tools and expand access for many kinds of common purposes.
How does Virbela help you create that kind of ground-breaking remote experience?
When it comes to online participation, the draws are compelling: a welcoming environment, easy onboarding and support, and simplicity of use.
We have many competing pulls for our online attention these days. Ease of use and a real-time capture of multiple senses—eyes, ears, and hands—helps keep people present in virtual worlds.
To engage participant communities, virtual worlds have to provide a favorable customer experience compared to their video alternatives. Video conferences can be exhausting, so Virbela has the advantage of feeling more like normal interaction.
What are your favorite Virbela features?
My favorite features are the ones that let you set up rooms or configure room tools with just a couple of clicks. In my office, I can choose desk and table arrangements. I can create a classroom in the boardroom or change voice and seating options in the auditorium.
For fun, my favorite features are the avatar animations—like handshakes— the power boat rides around the campus island and animated dancing in the music venues like The Virbela Speakeasy™.