For a long time, the District of Columbia was plagued by the (somewhat true) stereotype of people asking and being asked the age-old question: where do you work?
But over the last two years, that question has taken on a new form, extending not just to what company you worked for but where, physically, you spent your days.
While some want to resurrect the IRL office and others want nothing to do with in-person work, one local startup wants to merge a little bit of both. Frameable, an event tech company founded in 2021, is a designer of remote tools for use within and beyond the workplace. The company is entirely remote, though CEO Adam Riggs is based in DC.
Frameable is the creator of the workplace tech tool Frameable Spaces, formerly known as Rehive. It acts as a virtual office space for employees. Using this software, which is integrated with WebRTC, employees can hop into several workspaces — like a virtual lab, conference room, atrium and more — either by themselves or with others. Everyone can then see which room their coworkers are located in. Those in the room can also set a customizable status to say what they’re working on.
If someone from the company needs to reach out, they can either send a message or hop into the room for a brief chat before moving back out. That latter option mimics the way that you can pop into a real office, and the software offers a lock button for meetings that are private and not to be disturbed.
While his company does use the software in conjunction with other apps like Google Calendar and Slack, Riggs told Technical.ly that the idea is to remove friction in workplace communication.
“Most of our work life used to unfold in real life,” Riggs said. “We had a physical office that we went to, we didn’t have the same expectations of privacy that we have developed in the last couple of years because we’ve been forced to work from our own private space.”
Building the Frameable Spaces software, Riggs said, largely involved taking everything learned from the events business and bringing it to the virtual workspace. Frameable is currently about 20 people, so everyone stays on the same “floor,” but larger companies could use the software to host different departments on different floors and locations like an auditorium. The software, according to Frameable, was built with Vue for the frontend and Node for the backend. It runs on AWS with its selective forwarding units from MediaSoup.
In the Before Times, being in the office meant being paid to come to a physical space, be available and help out colleagues as needed, with no option to ignore messages or skip out on meetings. For some, even after two years of changing workplaces, it can still be difficult to rebuild that structure and ensure employee productivity. Having all of these options in the workplace and rebuilding an office virtually is key to making the booming remote work trend work, Riggs thinks. He hopes that the IRL office replication will help those who are hesitant to jump on the hybrid or remote office policies when it’s something that many new hires and current employees are looking for.
And while the friction of jumping back and forth between Zoom, calendar and messaging apps may be wary for some, he hopes that Frameable Spaces makes the transition a little more appealing.
“This is a very different way to work remotely,” Riggs said. “It’s a very normal way to work in person.”
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