Towards a Practical Virtual Office for Mobile Knowledge Workers

  • Eyal Ofek ,
  • Jens Grubert ,
  • ,
  • Mark Phillips ,
  • Per Ola Kristensson


As more people work from home or during travel, new opportunities and challenges arise around mobile office work. On one hand, people may work at flexible hours, independent of traffic limitations, but on the other hand, they may need to work at makeshift spaces, with less than optimal working conditions and decoupled from co-workers. Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to change the way information workers work: it enables personal bespoke working environments even on the go and allows new collaboration approaches that can help mitigate effects of physical distance. In this paper, we investigate opportunities and challenges for realizing a mobile VR offices environments and discuss implications from recent findings of mixing standard off-the-shelf equipment, such as tablets, laptops or desktops, with VR to enable effective, efficient, ergonomic and rewarding mobile knowledge work. Further, we investigate the role of conceptual and physical spaces in a mobile VR office.


virtual reality; virtual knowledge work; virtual office work; mobile virtual reality.


Eyal Ofek

Eyal Ofek is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research lab in Redmond, WA. His research interests include Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR), Haptics, interactive projection mapping and computer vision for human-computer interaction. He is the Specialty Chief Editor of Frontiers in Virtual Reality, for the area of Haptics and an Assoc. Editor of IEEE Computer Graphics and Application (CG&A),, co-chaired the 19th ACM SIGSPATIAL 2011, and on program committee for several leading conferences. Prior to joining Microsoft Research Dr. Ofek obtained my PhD at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has founded a couple of companies in the area of computer graphics, including a successful drawing and photo editing application (Photon-Paint ) and developing the world first time-of-flight video cameras (ZCam). Eyal’s research and development videos can be found on YouTube.

Jens Grubert
Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Jens Grubert is Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the Internet of Things at Coburg University. He has more than 10 years of academic and industrial experience in fields such as human-computer interaction, mixed reality (MR), computer graphics and computer vision. His research interests include supporting future knowledge work with MR and multimodal and mutli-device interaction in MR. He is an avid supporter of interdisciplinary work.

Michel Pahud

Michel Pahud is truly passionate about researching and prototyping innovative breakthrough experiences that inspire product groups. His interest is ranging from productivity applications, video conferencing, to education. He has a very strong background in computer science and engineering (hardware and software), a lot of original ideas to create experiences that solve real-world problems, and a unique ability to combine technologies together and prototype very quickly. He created 32 high impact prototypes between June 2006 – June 2007 at Microsoft among other things. Dr. Pahud joined Microsoft in the US in March 2000 and has a Ph.D. in parallel computing from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Mark Phillips
Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Mark Phillips is an Architect, an architecture researcher and a Professor for experimental Space at Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts and was Interior Design Director at ORANGEBLU building solutions (former Wilford Schupp Architects and ZSP Architects) and mori projects.

Per Ola Kristensson
Cambridge University

Per Ola Kristensson is Professor of Interactive Systems Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College. He is interested in designing intelligent interactive systems that enable people to be more creative, expressive and satisfied in their daily lives. His PhD thesis was on gesture keyboard technology for touchscreens and in 2007 he co-founded ShapeWriter, Inc. to commercialise this technology. He was the Director of Engineering of this company until it was acquired by Nuance Communications in 2010. ShapeWriter was selected as the 8th best iPhone application by Time magazine in 2008 and won a Google Android ADC50 developer award in the same year. He did his doctoral work at the Institute of Technology at Linköping University, Sweden and at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, USA (Ph.D. Computer Science 2007).

New Future of Work 2020, August 3–5, 2020
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Enhancing mobile work and productivity with virtual reality

As people work from home, new opportunities and challenges arise around mobile office work. On one hand, people may have flexible work hours and may not need to deal with traffic or long commutes. On the other hand, they may need to work at makeshift spaces, with less-than-optimal working conditions while physically separated from co-workers.  Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to change the way we work, whether from home or at the office, and help address some of these new challenges. We envision the future office worker to be able to work productively everywhere, solely using portable standard input devices and immersive head-mounted displays. VR has the potential to enable this by allowing users to create working environments of their choice and by relieving…