Over the course of this year, there’s been a lot of ink spilled over what will happen when we get back to “normal.” Or how we should be dealing with the current “new normal.”

But shouldn’t we debate what’s truly “normal” in the first place? And when it comes to the way we work, the truth is that virtual work is nothing new. Even before our great 2020 reckoning, survey after survey proved that remote work boosted brand loyalty, productivity, and happiness with work-life balance.

Inspired by the surge in the remote workforce, we’ve compiled our top innovations for WFH life that help boost productivity and employee satisfaction and enthusiasm.

1. Change the Environment, Change the Worklife

With continuing lockdowns and shelter in place orders, employees looking to get out of their routine… should consider actually getting out of Dodge with popular van-share company, Kibbo.

As a start-up redefining what the workspace should (or could) look like, Kibbo is also reframing the idea of urban living. It’s a network of clubhouses — i.e. community hubs members can use to access WiFi, get groceries and provisions, and connect with a like-minded community. For those without wheels, Kibbo even offers top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, and for less than the cost of living in a studio apartment in a major city.

Especially for people who’ve ditched the commute, a change of scenery can be a breath of fresh air and a good way to refuel creative professional energies. It can be up to employees to decide if Work From Home should be Work From the Road.

2. WFH Life Can Still Include IRL Fitness

Virtual work produces real, tangible results — but a fitness routine can’t exist in a virtual world alone. After all, there’s a reason so many offices offer on-site fitness gyms as a special staff benefit. Physical activity can reduce stress, cut health care costs, and help employees power through any challenges that come their way.

FlexiSpot helps fill the void left by these gym closures with bikes that can be used in conjunction with height-adjustable standing desks. Missing spin class? No problem. These bikes are designed to be used for the home office with a compact, easy-to-use, and easy-to-store design. As a “neat” bonus, employees can keep their workspace tidy by moving the bike when not in use via easy-rolling coasters. No installation or tools required.

3. Add a Dose of Virtual Reality to Your Virtual Office

Virtual Reality headsets aren’t just a fun new gadget for employees to play with — although even if they were, that would be reason enough to employ the tool. VR is revolutionizing the way we do business. On a global scale, team members are spread across continents as well as conference rooms (both real and virtual). VR can help bridge the gap, providing a more seamless and natural-feeling user experience.

Leverage the tool and bring visual presentations to life. For example, construction companies and architectural or design firms could use VR technologies to “visit” projects on-site without ever leaving their office. From ground-breaking to ribbon-cutting and everything in between, this can save companies both time and money. And it works for all industries.

Perhaps the greatest impact that VR delivers is the human element, even in a virtual setting. As Tim Mauri, Director of Technology & Innovation at Johnson & Johnson described to Harvard Business Review, “I can high-five team members in virtual reality. After having had limited human contact for weeks, this is a convincing experience of being with other people and getting work done.”

Oculus is a leading brand in the VR space.

4. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: An Improved Headset for All-Day Wear

Headphones have improved since the 1980s. So should your office headset.

To that end, Sentien has developed an open, unobtrusive headset that leaves the ear entirely open for users to wear throughout the day. Resembling hook-over-the-ear headphones, these ergonomic devices were instead designed to rest on the cheek, in front of the ear.

With noise-cancelling microphones, the sound quality is pitch perfect. Finally, a Zoom meeting can sound even better than one in person.

5. Ommm. Foster Connection & Support Mental Health with a Wellbeing App

Even with all the innovations that make life easier, this year has been a rough one. The effects on many businesses have been hard to predict, adding to stress levels. Add to that: Zoom schooling and general burnout, being sequestered from friends and family (or stuck with them in too small a space), and learning how to juggle new realities. Some remote workers may be feeling the emotional and mental strain of the times, whether they are used to a more solitary WFH schedule or not.

Living Ashram answered this call by launching a special wellbeing app, designed to encourage connection and a renewed sense of purpose. Guiding users through specially-designed meditation practices such as mindful breathing, gratitude, and forgiveness, the subscription-based app also offers helpful resources like articles and videos.

6. Encourage Staff to “Like” & Recognize Other’s Work

We’re in the age of Instagram and other social networks, leaving us virtually hard-wired to crave “likes.” Think of it like the theory of Pavlov’s dog: when we receive a “like,” we’re now conditioned to work harder and more eagerly. The Japanese startup, Unipos, has recognized this and created a system to reward employee behavior.

Employees can “like” something a co-worker does and publicly acknowledge it by using the Unipos app to send peers a “bonus.” Similar to the social media model, these “bonuses” can be displayed on a company-wide timeline showcasing all messages staff have garnered. Hashtags can be added as well, ensuring more views and real-time positive feedback.

No matter if your team is scattered throughout your city — or the world, Sococo is always looking to revolutionize the way today’s workforce engages and connects. Learn more about building your own Sococo online office for work.