Remote interaction using digital tools creates challenges for both the facilitator and participants compared to traditional interaction, but also opens up for possibilities. The future workplace and other institutions are expected to take advantage of these and combine the physical with the digital in hybrid solutions.
Remote interaction has increased lately, and is expected to become more important in our social lives and in work situations. This has largely been thanks to a quick advancement of connectivity and tech, which continues to develop continuously. This opens up for indefinite possibilities for remote interactions which are already tested and discussed today. Robotics can enable to walk around in places we are not able to access, and VR allows for virtual meetings where body language is included as well as other spatial aspects difficult to include in remote meetings today.
There is also a variety of situations and target groups for remote interaction such as medical exams at home, digital school environments or cultural experiences. The potentials are vast and the design needs to consider both the purpose and the user.
Remote interaction does not only include new technology. Many experience difficulty when creating interactive sessions as it is, and asks for support in planning remote meetings and events. What is the best fit for the user and purpose regarding available tools, how is interaction created in working groups, and how are participants engaged to interact? The ability to facilitate in a digital context is important to reach the goals of the session and avoid "digital fatigue".
Something we all need to remember is that technology and digital tools do not create interaction automatically, they only enable it. It is still the participants who are interacting. The digital maturity or physical situation of each individual influences the rest of the group, which is not experienced to the same extent in traditional settings where the environment is shared. The social interplay is ruled by social needs and norms, which are both constantly evolving and takes new forms through digital interaction.
There are both potentials and risks with remote interaction from a equality perspective. The technology can have direct or indirect impact, and other societal norms influence behaviour and prerequisites for remote interaction. By acknowledging these risks and possibilities the interaction can be designed to get the best of both worlds.
The expectation is that the digitalization of interactions will continue to evolve. Simultaneously we can see different people have varying needs depending on living situation, geography or digital confidence. Situations where some people are physically in the same room and other interact remotely (so called hybrid events) will become more common but should not result in an advantage for some participants. This puts pressure on technology as well as planning and facilitation to aid both contexts.
At RISE there is broad competence surrounding both effects of the digital contexts, the array of tools as well as planning meetings and events, technical development, test beds for technology and design, and research regarding interaction, behaviour and design. We are right now looking towards the future workplace and what prerequisites and requirements for hybrid meetings exist. RISE can also offer support in digital facilitation, as well as digital norm critique and inclusion.