Concept: Students from Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden developed Hej device to help employees combat loneliness felt because of work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. They collaborated with Switzerland-based software company Logitech for the development. The solution provides remote workers to feel the presence of co-workers by offering easy social interactions via the platform.

Nature of Disruption: Hej provides employees to get an abstract visualization of their colleagues and enables communicating with them both visually and verbally. It offers a social environment for users to make them feel as if they are in the office. The users can set up the Hej device at their convenience to work and allows connecting with their coworker’s devices. The solution consists of an in-built motion sensor to monitor the movements and provides an unobtrusive visualization of the colleagues. The employees can interact with each other through conversations via microphone and speaker, waving or signaling. It provides Focus mode feature that can be used when users want to work in silence and don’t want any distractions. The users can avail Hej’s interactive surface to make video calls with the team. Hej solution thus motivates employees to maintain a healthy work habit and create a sense of solidarity among workers.

Outlook: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic most companies have opted for work from home, though it came with many benefits such as convenience and safety, people started to feel loneliness. This has affected their performance due to a lack of motivation, which often can lead to various health issues such as depression. Heji provides an interactive platform to help employees to communicate with co-workers as if they are in the office. The platform offers a friendly inviting design that facilitates exchange and bonding between co-workers.

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