Bottom line: Teams working remotely lack informal meetings to talk about interesting things not related to work.
We need a software tool to fix it.
How does it usually work with teams that work in the office? As soon as there is an occasion (for example, Christmas or a birthday, or some commercial achievement) we buy canapes, sushi and fruits, we put them on different tables, we gather everyone in the office on Friday night, everyone wanders between the tables for fruit or canapés, and join different groups to chat. And everyone likes this, as it's always nice to talk to good, smart people in an informal setting.
We need to replicate the same experience for a distributed team.
Why is Skype or Zoom not suitable? We have gathered 25 people at Zoom, and at any one time only a minority is speaking and everyone else is bored. It is bad, it is not teamwork, but quite the opposite: next time everyone will find an excuse not to appear at a boring event.
How could you get people in and out of small groups and have a good conversation like in real life? This could be done, for example, by creating different "rooms" in Zoom (this idea is described in detail here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-run-a-zoom-cocktail-party-and -tiene -best-classes-conferences-and-meetings-also-dc2c5b58f8be). But there is another problem: in offline meetings, people enter and leave the groups with a natural and clear social permission: go find another meal. But this doesn't work in case you jump from "room" to "room", so you have to force people to change rooms, or many people may find themselves in boring discussions without a polite way to leave and without an easy way to find a group with an interesting topic.
How could this problem be solved in an online meeting? For example: we have a large space (for example, any huge "room" at https://hubs.mozilla.com/, such as Parthenon) with support for positional voice chat (the further away the avatar is, the quieter it will be voice), along the perimeter of the "room" we organize some interesting artifacts (low polygonal, to reduce delays), such as a photo exhibition (for example, any inspiring collection from https://www.flickr. com / photos / flickr / or your own old "fun facts" photos). So they all came and went, not to eat, but to see the exhibition. Those who are bored can easily say, "I will take a walk, check out what else is in the exhibition, see you" – walk and join another group, like in an offline meeting.
Mozilla Hubs are almost right for this idea, but they are not perfect.
The good thing about Mozilla Hubs:
participants do not need to prepare, they do not need to install software (for Windows, macOS, Linux), Mozilla Hubs works in any browser without add-ons, on PCs and smartphones;
Participants do not need to register, they just have to follow a link like https://hub.link/abcdefg at the indicated time, and they are already at the party.
But we have brought 25 people together in Mozilla Hubs and there are core issues.
- All those who do not play 3D games in the first person (mainly girls) have a hard time navigating; instead of communicating, they get stressed because they don't understand where someone is, how to reach them, how not to look. the floor or wall, and so on. They would be much more comfortable in a simpler interface: isometric or dimetric, as in The Sims.
- Due to the first-person view, there is a strong emphasis on primitive avatars, but not on communication and not on the participants' webcam video. Video from webcam can be easily shared on Mozilla Hubs, but newbies project it somewhere in the sky or on the floor, other people push these videos and it was easier for people to talk without any video from webcam.
- Mozilla Hubs lags behind on slower devices or makes coolers hum like an airplane.
Is there any software that solves or can be adapted to solve the problem of virtual group meetings, which have the advantages mentioned above, but without the disadvantages mentioned (a platform, a game engine, a game mod, anything)?