Remote workers using robots

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Many moons ago, I was sitting in an airport talking to a co-worker and I said, I really wish someone would invent teleportation or figure out a way of bending distance so we don’t have to spend a large portion of our lives flying.

He looked at me and said, Before that happens, we will have avatars that we can log into from our computer at home and control in a remote location. At the end of the day, instead of getting on an airplane, we will simply hang ourselves up and log-off.

Recently, I realized how close we are to doing this when we started to use a robot to solve a distance problem.

What is the problem we were trying to solve? Bob is a product owner for Company A. He temporarily relocated to a different city in order to support his wife’s new 1-year contract position. Bob has a wealth of information about Product X and rather than lose that, Company A decided to find an alternative way of keeping Bob engaged on the project team.

The proposed solution was to start using this Double Robotics robot. Essentially, Bob remotely logs into the robot and controls it from his computer. The robot in the office (who we’ve named “Little Bob”) then zooms around to stand-ups, meetings, sessions, and to talk to people when needed. He appears on a monitor at the top of the robot.

I have to say, it is a huge success! The robot has become a part of the team and has minimized the impact of the product owner working from a remote home office. His knowledge and personality is still with us and there’s been no drop in productivity that we’ve seen. If anything, there is a new but interesting dynamic on the team.

After first meeting Little Bob, there was a wow-the-world-is-changing moment for me when I was cleaning up a room after facilitating a session and the robot zoomed into the room, did a quick look around, and said I have this room booked for a session. I couldn’t argue. He definitely “had” the room and I was sold on the concept of using robots from that point onward.

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