On The Job As A Telecommuting Robot
On The Job As A Telecommuting Robot, A reporter has some funny experiences trying out a device for remote workers to stay in touch. My Life as a Telecommuting Robot, I was strolling down the hall to a meeting on a Wednesday afternoon when I suddenly blacked out, coming to a halt. Stopping by a colleague’s desk to say hello, I never saw the Nerf ball he aimed at my cranium. Later, when an editor absently patted my head as he passed by, I crashed to the floor.
Thus went my short, eventful life as QB-82, a wheeled, skinny robot that can reach a height of more than six feet. On the QB-82, my face and voice appeared via the robot’s 3.5-inch video screen. Using my laptop’s arrow keys, I navigated around the Journal’s headquarters-becoming a kind of chatty, whirring, stick-figure colleague.
Its maker, Anybots Inc., says such telepresence robots enable far-flung workers to collaborate with peers and log face time at the office-still crucial for getting ahead, recent studies have found.
As a remote worker based for years in Austin, Texas, the idea of being two places at once sounded intriguing. I communicate with my New York-based editors and co-workers via email, phone and occasional Skype chats, but maybe “botting” could be better.
A robot remotely controlled by Austin-based reporter Rachel Emma Silverman talks to New York-based colleague, Leslie Kwoh, right.
Over several weeks this summer, for a few hours a day, I used the QB to bot into the Wall Street Journal’s newsroom from my home office.
Rolling around on a Segway-like wheeled base, with a video screen and camera embedded in my “head,” I could see and hear my co-workers, who likewise had a portal into my home office life, complete with cameos from my kids and occasional barks from my dog, Bosco.