Facebook pushes remote working into VR app

For those times when you just have to be in the room together

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Hello metaverse, I see you are getting closer! 18 months ago it was rare for many people to have the opportunity to work from home. Then, well, virus, and all of sudden it became the norm. Now, as we learn to live with Covid-19 the working world is split slightly between companies who prefer their staff in the office and those that either has flat-out said staff can work from home forever and those who are splitting the working week between home and office.

There’s still a huge proportion in the latter camp with many, many workers either not feeling comfortable enough to venture outside right now, or simply discovered a better work/life balance they would like to maintain in the future. . With this apparent, Facebook has accelerated into the space and released Horizon Workrooms – an app to power remote work collaboratively with the use of the VR headset.

Now if this all sounds off-putting because you don’t really want to be stuck alone in VR space with a cartoon avatar of Julian from Finance, worry not because Workrooms allows up to 16 people in Quest 2 headsets to join up in a virtual boardroom, and it seems up to 50 can join in if they are just joining via video or the web (another nice touch that can open up your meetings to potentially more than the main VR’d up contributors).

Now while the Quest 2 is currently off-sale due to a recall it is due back in stock next week with an expanded onboard memory offering, and we still think it is one of the best pieces of hardware to arrive in recent years for a whole host of reasons you will find in our review.

Now obviously this is Facebook and a lot of folks simply don’t trust the company to do the right thing, so much so the company has pre-emptively prepped a document that says: “Workrooms will not use your work conversations and materials to inform ads on Facebook. Additionally, Passthrough processes images and videos of your physical environment from the device sensors locally. Facebook and third-party apps do not access, view or use these images or videos to target ads. Finally, other people are not able to see your computer screen in Workrooms unless you choose to share it, and the permissions you grant for the Oculus Remote Desktop app are only used for the purposes of allowing streaming from your computer to your headset.”

Sounds legit then. There should be no suspicious instances of Susie from Marketing talking about a nice Latte she had and then everybody being bombarded with online ads for Nespresso for the next six weeks. That would be nice.

Rooms can be set up in different configurations, much like, er, real rooms so you can set the focus on presentation or conversation, and from what we have seen so far it’s all pretty cool. Hand-tracking is present and correct as is screen sharing and keyboard tracking.

So, how many people will use it? Who knows at this stage but it’s great it exists. As the traffic to our VR Chat pages suggests, there is a huge appetite for collaborative VR experiences so we will be watching this one closely.

Paul is a contributor to PC Guide, having covered news coverage, Raspberry Pi, Windows releases and peripherals - among other things - across the site.