Five lessons from working with a robot

We just spent three days running my first presence workshop since 2020. As one participant could not join (she was locked down in Vietnam) we provided her with a robot to participate. My first impressions are:

– She was able to participate more actively than I have seen from other hybrid options.

– Even in breaks, colleagues would “talk with her” (i.e. to the screen on which she was pictured).

– Most of the time, the battery was sufficient (although at the start of one day we had a problem following a power-cut).

– Sometimes others did manhandle the robot into a different position. On the one hand, this was an act of kindness (if somebody is speaking from one side of the room, they pointed the robot that way) on the other hand, if the robot feels like your body, I am not sure I would enjoy having people just pick me up and move me around like that.

– The whole thing stands and falls on the quality of the internet connection, especially as the robot moves around, and (without the user initially knowing it) can head into low reception areas.

In sum, certainly worth trying again, at least if it is somewhere with good internet!

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